Last Wednesday, we completed our second week of a four-week life story class at the OMI Senior Center.  I can’t even begin to describe how inspired I felt when I left the class that morning.  It was so amazing to hear the stories that the seniors were sharing — life in the Philippines during World War II when Japan invaded; moving to England alone at fifteen years old not knowing any English; home and family that the church provided; and more.  It was not only educational for me, it was also an important reminder that life has so many possibilities.  I’m excited that this Wednesday, we’ll actually start recording some of these stories on video.  We’ll share more video highlights over the next month.

In the meantime, here are some pics from our class last week:

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We gathered with a group of seniors today at the Castro Senior Center for a community event to celebrate with three seniors, whose stories were videotaped as part of the Golden Voices life story class.

The audience smiled as photo highlights of travels to Egypt, pictures of ballet performances, and baby pictures of the life story class participants were shown on screen. Short video clips told stories of the seniors meeting her husband for the first time after his return from the Pacific Theater, lessons learned from a distinguished career as a professional ballet dancer, and being inspired by world travels to become an actor. Here’s a shortened version of the video:

Watching the videos spurred the seniors to ask the students more questions. As one attendee said, “You might sit near one of them and never know that they have these fascinating stories. We sometimes don’t think to ask.” Betty Trooper-Naftaly, one of the students in the class, added: “I’m glad I’m doing this. It’s a great way to pass down our stories to future generations.”

We couldn’t have said it better.  We at Famento developed this project to celebrate the life stories of seniors in our community. It was really exciting to see the energy and smiling faces in the room.  It sounded like a conversation that just started.

We look forward to having some of the seniors join us in one of our future classes.

Special thanks to the Castro Senior Center for hosting the class and our event, our co-sponsor San Francisco Department of Aging and Adult Services, Gold Partner Cypress Lawn, and Mi Zhou who graciously volunteered to take portrait photos of our life story class students.

Some photo highlights from the event:

life story class students castro senior center event

life story event

friends chatting at life stories event

life stories

chatting at life stories event

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Shades of San Francisco

In preparing for an upcoming project by Famento, I recently learned about the “Shades of San Francisco” project at the San Francisco Public Library.  Susan Goldstein, the city archivist, told me about their ongoing efforts to collect photos and interview residents in different neighborhoods.  The photos really give you a glimpse of how San Francisco has changed over the years.  You can check them out for yourself here:  http://sfpl.org/news/onlineexhibits/shades/shadesinfo.htm.  I especially liked the “Street Scenes” section.  They’ve also interviewed the residents for the stories behind these pictures.  Unfortunately these aren’t online, but you can probably find them in the main branch of the library.

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