Summary of the April 6, 2017 Gathering
Maryland Community of Practice
for Leaders of Village and related programs
The statewide gathering of the Maryland Community of Practice met on April 6, 2017 in Annapolis at the Department of Aging. We gathered to focus our shared learning on our Spring topic to discuss how community leaders working with older adults can strengthen their capacity to be genuine and authentic leaders in the face of vulnerability. Our intention was to review some of the challenges that frequently occur in later life and introduce some activities that might be useful to helping communities foster deeper personal connections using pair and small group activities. Creating strong bonds of connection among each other is important to establish safe and trusting relationships when more challenging life events arise.
Maureen Cavaiola began the day with an update from the attendees and a question about how each participant discovered or found a connection with their local Village program. We discussed letting go more broadly than just the ideas of decluttering and letting go of possessions, clutter, larger homes, but broadened our conversation to discuss letting go of roles, relationships and various losses and changes. We wondered how these learning and life experiences shape our leadership style, foster deeper wisdom, assist us in becoming more sensitive and aware leaders.
We then introduced the thoughts of Parker Palmer on Community and Brené Brown on Vulnerability. Carol Cober presented on the concept Parker Palmer introduced that it takes a deeply grounded leader to foster trust from people. The group discussed ways that later life can require a letting go process, and the importance of leaders of senior programs to develop the capacity to be fully present with people during times of challenge and difficulty.
We reviewed how the challenges and wounds acquired over a lifetime and the challenges and physical illnesses faced in later life require the skillful development of advanced coping strategies and intimate connections with close others in order to be steady and cope with grace. This is true for active leaders, emerging leaders and program participants. The group indicated it is important to respond to the challenges of others to be present, helpful and to show up to help-while maintaining boundaries, and helping in a way that is mindful of empowering the other person.
We discussed volunteers and paid helpers as resources. The variation in program models across our state includes some fee-free, all volunteer models, some programs connected to host organizations as also other programs with paid part time staff providing coordination supervised by Board leadership. Members revealed the usefulness of various resources, both paid services and fee free resources, for example 12-step programs that can coach on learning to be courteous and practicing kindness. Several members who live alone noted the ways living single presents some unique vulnerabilities.
Carol introduced several introspective or contemplative activities. We had an opportunity to try out 5 different creative activities in small groups. We tried out a balance of reflective writing and journaling activities, reminiscence, and some Vision Board and visual arts activities. Participants explored these contemplative tools both individually, in pairs and in small group discussions.
We then returned to the larger circle to reflect on what was learned by combining personal reflection and insight and then sharing it with others. Many were surprised at how energizing it was to be invited to recall personal recollections and then exchange them with others.
We broke for lunch and continued with the planning for the rest of the year. Our lunch was created by Maureen and was awesome, salmon and wild rice, vegetarian roll-ups, tangerines and home-made cookies. Delicious! Awesome thank you to Maureen for healing food!
We discussed the upcoming National Village to Village in Baltimore this November. We are also in the process of reviving the blog, seeking a “blog master” or intern and some supportive data base-list management helper.
The we set “rough approximate” dates for a Gathering in the summer and our Fall Meeting in December. Notice for the next 2 Meetings:
- Save the date(s)- We will be offering a special workshop day of Nourishing Leaders over on Kent Island this summer. The exact day is still under discussion so pencil in July 25, 26, 27.
- Save the Date for our next business meeting which will be December 5,6,7 ( exact one to be determined asap). We will include a review of the Village to Village event in Baltimore November 6,7,8 and do an Annual review of all our Statewide programs.
We received regrets from several regular attendees who had conflicts and other commitments, and they were missed.
We are grateful for your work as an Innovative Thought Leader!
Maureen and Carol
-Addition: list of sites of Maryland participants for our new attendees noted below:
-Updated site list of participants* Please note some are county-wide, some are towns some are neighborhoods, and some are evolving and in further development
-Programs in 13 Maryland Counties
Anne Arundel-Annapolis, Severna Park, Bay Ridge
CHAI, North Baltimore, Catonsville MCC, Rolland Park
Kent County, Chestertown
Montgomery * over 40 in development, listed are those who have participated in Cop events
Olney Home for Life
Greater Farmland Senior VIllage
Sandy Spring-Aging Well With Friends
Greater Stonegate Village
Prince Georges County: Bowie, Greenbelt, Hyattesville
Talbot County, Easton
4 County program- MAC, Salisbury; Wicomico, Worcester, Dorcester & Somerset counties)