How Wake Robin residents are mastering storytelling

Published: Nov. 29, 2022 at 11:25 PM EST
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SHELBURNE, Vt. (WCAX) - Stories are handed down through generations and the best ones are well-told. Now, the residents at Wake Robin in Shelburne are learning how to share their legacy.

For the first time since pre-COVID, they’re offering those living at the senior living community a story storytelling class. The instructor, Susanne Schmidt, says since this is an older crowd, what they have to share is especially interesting.

“People are looking for ways to feel connected,” Schmidt says. She spent years telling and listening to stories as a mental health counselor. Now, she helps people to share their own publicly. “I love to spend time with people who have lived experience,” Schmidt continued. “That’s what storytelling is all about.”

It’s also what makes Wake Robin the perfect place to teach others how to share their own stories. Stories they’re working on range from happy memories to tragic incidents.

“I like telling stories,” said resident Jim Wick. “I just may not be good at structuring them.”

Throughout a month-long class, Schmidt will help participants to tell a 5 to 7 minute story that’ll make an impact.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said participant Bob Woodworth. “I and my family enjoy family stories. This is a good opportunity to sharpen one’s skills.”

“It helps us understand we all have backgrounds different from the present,” said Ann Page. “By sharing it and opening up the door for other people to share it, we become a stronger community.”

While those participating say they’re excited to sharpen their skills, they’re also excited to listen to their peers. “We learn from one another. We learn from our stories,” said participant Bernie Rubenstein. “It helps us think about our history and important aspects in our lives.”

“We learn about people’s different lives and what’s meaningful to them it’s really pretty wonderful,” said Judy Rosenstreich, who is taking this class for a second time.

Once the class wraps up, they’ll be holding a story slam event. People will be able to attend to hear the final products.