If you’ve been following along with my story, you know that I have been talking about storytelling and writing our stories. I’ve discussed the tools that are available to us to write those stories and why they’re important to share. All of this has been about creating your Legacy Project. In this blog, I’m going to share a little bit about what a Legacy Project is, how they can look different, and what you can do with it once it’s complete.
Personal Storytelling: Memory Collections
By my definition, memory collection in a Legacy Project is allowing everyone in the family, plus the extended family, friends, and anyone else who wants to contribute to write memories and share experiences about a specific person or event.
Let’s say you wanted to collect memories about your grandmother who has passed away. You want to collect her stories and memories others have about her. As a family, you decide what questions to ask, and then the call goes out to ask for submissions to those questions. That way, everyone is able to contribute to the memory collection.
You can also do a memory collection for family members who are still here with us. Perhaps as a 50th wedding anniversary or 90th birthday, when everyone is gathered, you can collect memories. And because that person is living, you can record her memories and get a first-person perspective in addition to the family’s thoughts and feelings.
Legacy Project in Long-term Care
In a long-term care facility, the Legacy Project can be used as an activity. It can be in addition to bingo or art as a layer on top of that, or it can be in place of those activities. Activity directors, aides, and staff can have this in their back pocket for residents to do without a whole lot of prep work or expensive materials.
In a residential situation, the Legacy Project can improve the quality of life for residents and staff as well as the work environment and culture of the entire facility. It changes the conversations between staff and resident and between the residents themselves. Suddenly, they’re talking about things so much deeper than they might have without the Legacy Project. They’re making connections, which is so important as we age.
The Legacy Project in Physical Form
Once you have compiled your stories and memory collections, it’s up to you how the final product looks. Working together, we can put it into an actual book that is a custom heirloom for your family. You can then purchase as many copies as you would like to share with loved ones. The book is produced on a non-commercial basis, so we don’t purchase an ISBN or sell it anywhere else. This is just for your personal use.
A Legacy Project Example
One great example of how legacy can be implemented is Dream Chasers. It’s sponsored by Don’t Stop Dreamin’, a nonprofit that is part of Quality Life Services in Western Pennsylvania. In the project, volunteers work one-on-one with residents in care facilities owned by Quality Life Services. These are usually university students paired with seniors. This model was my dream three years ago in my basement. I wanted to be able to train others, encourage and support them to create relationships with the elderly to help them tell their stories.
That’s what I get to do now, and I have been grateful to do it every semester with this group. We’re heading into our fourth semester, and I am thankful, blessed, and ecstatic to do this work with them. Stay tuned to this blog to keep learning how you can implement the Legacy Project in your life or in the lives of those you love.