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06/04/2018 01:44:36 PM


Some of the CBH teens participated in the NEXT DOR program this year, visiting with residents of Berman Commons Assisted Living and learning their stories. View this video summary of their year:

Participants also wrote essays about her experience in the prgoram. Hannah Laing's writing was chosen as the winning essay and she was given a scholarship to participate in a summer camp program.
CBH gratefully acknowledges Legacy Heritage for inviting our school to participate in its Better Together Program.  This inter-generational program fosters meaningful relationships between schoolchildren and seniors.

Hannah Laing's Essay:

Most Important Thing in the World By: Hannah Laing
“Don’t spend your life accumulating things . Spend your life doing things that are meaningful. Trust me, it’s worth it.” This is what Gail Skolsky said to me when I first interviewed her in winter of 2017. A group of teens at CBH had been interviewing residents at the Berman Commons for a long term film project about the lives of the residents. I first met Gail on a Sunday afternoon at the Berman Commons, a jewish senior home. We would visit the home once a month and each time I would see Gail she would always invite me up to her room and ask me how I’d been, what new was happening in my life, and if I had any new hobbies. She was soft spoken, but she said what she meant and meant what she said. She had agreed to let me interview her for the film project we had been working on. When I would visit her we talked about any and everything; our favorite foods, and animals. She would tell me about her childhood, her parents, how she became a teacher, her favorite artists, and about how she lost her brother a little over two years ago.

When I visited Gail in February, I realized that for a moment she had forgotten who I was. Maybe she thought I was her daughter, or her grand daughter because when I was leaving to go work on my essay she hugged me, kissed my forehead and said “ Love you, see you tonight at dinner” and ushered me out the door. Later, when I was leaving the building, I went to say goodbye, and she remembered me. At first I hadn’t realised what had happened, so as you can imagine, I was confused by the whole conversation. At the time, it was difficult to understand what Gail was talking about and I hadn’t really known what to do. This made me realise something. Sure, Gail didn’t remember who I was, but she treated me with the same respect, kindness and affection she always had while talking with me.

Looking back through notes I had taken while interviewing Gail, I came across a small note circled in pen. In January when I had visited the Berman Commons, Gail's daughter was also visiting. She asked if I was the one interviewing her and told me about Gail, about some details of stories Gail had forgotten, and then she explained to me that Gail has Dementia. Gail was much younger than most of the residents at the home and I had always wondered why someone her age was at an assisted living home, she couldn’t have been older than 50 or 60. After my visit in February with Gail, I kept thinking back on everything I had learned about her and from her. At random times at school, or with my friends, or even doing homework I would think about how Gail had always acted. How whoever she met she would greet with the same love and tenderness as she would greet her own daughters. How she would, even in her darkest times, be kind to others. Even though she didn’t enjoy being at the home, and didn’t even want to be in Atlanta, she never took it out on others. It also made me think about how even though Gail can’t remember some parts of her life and sometimes who she is, it never changes the core of who she is as a person. No matter how well or poorly she remembers herself, she treats others with the same respect and kindness. Because you shouldn’t spend your life accumulating things, rather, you should spend your life doing meaningful things. That’s what Gail does, she shows strangers and friends the same kindness she shows her family. She treats everyone as if listening and talking to them was the most important thing in the world she could be doing.

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