Providence Healthcare newsletter helps seniors connect

By 
  • July 27, 2009
{mosimage}TORONTO - At 82, Bernard Scanlan has a new job. Known as “roving editor” of Around the Houses, the Providence Healthcare resident newsletter, Scanlan can be seen roaming the hallways of the Cardinal Ambrozic Houses of Providence, on the lookout for a good story.

On this day Scanlan is all smiles, with black notebook and gold pen in hand, looking eager to get started on the next article.

“I love doing it,” said Scanlan. “I never turn down a good story.”

A year ago, Scanlan joined the 288 residents of the Providence Healthcare seniors’ home. The father of eight and 20-year sales veteran says since he’s volunteered with the newsletter, it’s been “a whole new ball game.”

He’s “almost on a first name basis” with many of his neighbours. And the rewards of a simple “Thank you” from those he’s profiled provide him with a sense of accomplishment.

The eight-month-old bi-monthly newsletter is the first at Providence Healthcare to have residents’ input and involvement in its story ideas, reporting and writing.

This is key, said Sr. Mary Anne McCarthy, director of mission and values, because it reflects Providence’s core values of independence, a sense of belonging and the sanctity of life.

Newsletter editor Cindy Martin tries to keep the editing to a minimum to allow the resident reporters’ voices to be heard and preserve the “flavour” of the stories.

One of those voices is new columnist Jack Scriven. In “Jack’s Corner,” Scriven provides an outlet for sharing with others the lessons he’s learned over the years.

“I have good memories,” he said. “I’ve had a fruitful 91 years.”

Scriven also turns nostalgic: “The world is closing in on us. We love to talk about what happened before.”

And it’s his love for writing, talking to people and meeting new friends which makes his volunteer work enjoyable and worthwhile.

It’s these kinds of connections, McCarthy said, the newsletter hopes to foster. 

The newsletter also has a practical purpose by keeping residents informed of the latest news, like the lively performance of the “Sparkettes” at the St. Patrick’s Day party or Youth Corps founder Fr. Tom McKillop’s new book, Friendship of Second Innocence.

The book is a collection of letters and journal entries between McKillop and Black Like Me author Howard Griffin.

The publication has been so popular that the number of published copies has nearly tripled from 100 to 250.

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