Thank You Thursday: More Than Words

I regularly hear about organisations that are doing some incredible work in the world, and the group featured in today’s blog is no exception. It’s one that has stood out to me since I first heard about it, perhaps it was a result of my love of reading and writing, or perhaps it was the fact that I have had some wonderful relationships with the elderly people in my life.

This Thank You Thursday we’re fortunate to have one of our dear Fish friends and associates, Laura Keily, share with us her passion for and involvement with a small Melbourne-based charity, helping reduce the feelings of isolation in aged care homes and truly reveal the value of our community’s seniors.

Have you ever thought about the story of your life? The story you are writing each and every day? What about the stories of those around you; family, loved ones or grandparents? Beyond Words, is a small charity helping people in aged care facilities capture their life’s memories, one unique story at a time. After reading Tuesdays with Morrie it was more than just a coincidence that I stumbled across this organisation – a mission to enable people in aged care to write their life stories; I was immediately hooked.

Laura receiving her graduation certificate after volunteer training, with Beyond Words team members, Carol and Wendy.

With their vision to develop communities where the life stories of older persons are valued and celebrated, I began my journey. I completed comprehensive training, meeting like-minded volunteers and the passionate women running Beyond Words, Carol and Wendy. These ladies work tirelessly to keep this much-needed organisation alive.

Beyond Words was established in 2012 as an independent not-for-profit initiative. Clients tell their story in their own words; a fun and inspiring activity that helps them reflect on their life. This process allows clients to record memories and personal stories, while also passing on meaningful information.

This short piece from the Weekend Today Show provides more insight into what we’re doing at Beyond Words:

New Picture (5)

During my weekly sessions with Mavis* the value of the program was evident, she enjoyed talking about her life and recalling memories both past and present. I could see the changes in her, along with a beaming sense of pride as she reflected on a wonderful life.

“I think you’re marvelous, truly marvelous. This experience has been wonderful, just lovely.” Mavis*, 92yrs

I’m immensely enjoying my time volunteering with Beyond Words. Listening to stories of love, laughter, tears and triumph has been an honour and a rewarding experience for myself, and my clients. Research shows that the biography process makes a positive contribution to a client’s quality of life. It amplifies the benefits of life review and personal growth, while offering deeper insight, enhancing communication, healing relationships, and supporting grief and bereavement. While all clients are presented with a copy of their story, it is often more about the process: the reflection and journey, than the completed biography.

I’m looking forward to learning more incredible life stories with my next client in 2016 as I continue my volunteering with Beyond Words.

This Thank You Thursday, words alone cannot describe the great work being carried out by Beyond Words. Giving seniors an opportunity to record their life story is rewarding and valuable not only for them, but for their families and dedicated volunteers like Laura; it is, quite simply, beyond words. A big thank you to Beyond Words and their volunteers for making a difference in the lives of so many.

See you in the pond,

The Fish Chick.

*Name has been changed to respect the privacy of the client and image is used as representative of clients of Beyond Words, not of one particular person.

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