In 2010, Kathleen Growney-Lorenzo and Terese Manfredi-Hill decided to blend their passions of recreation therapy and art to create their own business. Known as “Art for the Young at Heart,” the program has grown exponentially and is well known among numerous facilities in the Rochester area. From senior living communities to nursing homes to hospitals, the program focuses on bringing the benefits of painting to older adults, no matter the level of expertise or cognitive abilities.
With a growing program, Kathleen realized she would need more helping hands. One individual in particular that joined the team was Kathie Rumley, a middle school art teacher for 33 years. “I think what art gives you is an open-ended solution to a problem,” Kathie explains. “It’s good for facing challenges, for socializing, for decision making, and for recalling past experiences.” At St. John’s communities, the program is now in its 5th year and continuing to grow in popularity.
For residents at St. John’s Home, the one-on-one interactions and small group setting has made the program even more special. For now, the program is offered on two different neighborhoods, and each month is a different theme. Residents explore various images to replicate and a sketch of the image is provided before the fun starts. Generally, there are two teachers helping to guide each resident through his or her own artistic journey.
“I think people in long-term care have a challenge and one of those challenges is being independent,” Kathleen explains. “This program gives them more independence and also helps them focus on something other than what’s happening around them.” Therapeutic recreation specialist, Alicia Montalvo, agrees. “The teachers allow residents to express themselves and explore their own creativity. With a little help, they create masterpieces and it makes them feel so good.”
At St. John’s Meadows, the program has also gained positive feedback. Resident Karyl Friedman has been attending classes from the beginning. “We work with at least 100 different kinds of brushes and each brush does something different. We have fun, we create, we make new friendships, and we love what we do,” states Karyl. Not only do the residents have fun creating with one another, the final products are nothing short of extraordinary. In fact, an art exhibit will be on display in the St. John’s Meadows Market Café for all to see.
For future goals, Kathleen and her team are constantly thinking of ways to benefit the needs and wants of those they serve. “If you can connect with them in some way, there is nothing like it. There are no words to explain how they feel when you connect with them,” smiles Kathleen. Likewise, Kathie agrees. “You realize that someone really got something out of it.”
"Our goal is to provide the opportunity to pursue, create, and develop artistic works and an appreciation for art. Classes are centered on the elements and principles of art, also know as the 'ingredients' of art, which are driven by the individuals' unique interests and background." -Kathleen Growney-Lorenzo