AREA NEWSThe Northern Westchester Examiner

Drum Hill Seniors Write and Read Their “LIFE STORIES

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Drum Hill Senior Living hosted a “Life Stories” reading and cocktail reception featuring writer/residents last week.

Drum Hill Senior Living hosted a “Life Stories” reading and cocktail reception featuring writer/residents, aged 70–98 on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Drum Hill Senior Facility. Participants of the “Life Stories Writing Workshop”  read from their book “Life Stories” which includes selections of their original writing — stories, essays and poetry related to their life experiences. Cindy Beer-Fouhy, workshop facilitator, introduced each of the senior poets and writers who shared  their work out loud.

Drum Hill Senior Facility is located at 90 Ringgold Street in Peekskill.

Participants from Drum Hill included:  Martina Bole; Lenny Harris; Frances Manacher;   Dorothy Margolies; Thomas P. McConnell; Marguerite Norgren; Bob Pierce; Margaret Pierce; Doris Pope; Edith R. Shapiro; Miriam Smith;  and Sara Weinstein.

Attending the reading were residents of Drum Hill, family and friends and members of the City of Peekskill’s Common Council – Deputy  Mayor  Drew Claxton, Councilwoman Marybeth Mcgowan, and Donald Bennett Jr.  

The stories, essays and poetry at the reading represented a small portion of the work completed by students in the Drum Hill Life Stories Workshop.  The twelve students, who met weekly for 90 minutes for 20 weeks, wrote diligently every week and completed more than 90 pages of stories.

According to Drum Hill Resident Edith Shapiro, “Twelve of us registered for this course not knowing what to expect. Some of us are in our 70s, many are in our 80s and several residents are in their 90s. In the first class I wrote a poem! How did this happen? I never wrote a poem in all my years.  These classes have changed my life at Drum Hill. I feel good about myself and my newly discovered ability and I look forward to each class.”

Shapiro’s story “Looking Back” recounts memories of her childhood in Munich as a Jew when Hitler came into power.   She writes,” Looking back, I think it was the start of being a survivor…” Her story describes her immigration in 1938 to the US, her work as a chemist at Sloan Kettering and at IBM as a biochemist at the Research Center, her challenge as a person with hearing impairment, and her work as an advocate for hearing loss.

With all of this, she writes,” It has been a good life. I have no regrets.”

Frances Manacher, 98, is an award-winning visual artist who had work exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art and the Jewish Museum of New York. Among her many written works during the class, her piece “What I Have Learned” explains how she became a painter as “Most things happened by chance.”

“One day, sitting in my garden in the country, a summer resident passed by and looked at my work and asked if he could bring a NY man to see my artwork. The man came and looked and offered me a show in his prominent gallery. He was a famous former European dealer from Germany and working with the New York Museum,” she wrote.

The  writings in  the  book  are responses to essay and poetry prompts and discussions on topics including: First Time Memories;  My Mother’s Kitchen;  A Scary Experience; Transformational Moments;  Advice to My Teenage Self;  Spring Memories;  Unsent Letters;  Friendship ; A Part of my Body Which Most Represents Who I Am; The Things We Keep;  and other topics.

Participants in this workshop have been courageous and honest with their words and have written from their hearts.  Their experiences, written and recited out loud, evoked memories and inspired others to write about events and feelings long forgotten.

“As a group, we laughed, shed tears, and applauded each other’s accomplishments in life and on the page.  We learned about our similarities and accepted our differences,” said Beer-Fouhy who created the workshop and believes that, for seniors,  writing  has the potential to stimulate the memory, spark the imagination and keep cognitive thinking sharp.

Beer-Fouhy added that she is grateful to Melissa Deak, Drum Hill Activities Director and Kathy Herrmann, Drum Hill Executive Director, for supporting the workshop and for valuing the importance of a writing workshop for residents of Drum Hill.

“Melissa and Kathy understand the importance of introducing creative activities to our elderly population to help to sharpen mental capacity, physical abilities and the senses, boost self-esteem and encourage positive social interaction,” she said.

The writing workshop will resume in fall 2012. For information about the writing workshops for seniors, contact Cindy Beer-Fouhy at

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