Monday, October 13, 2014

Bridging the age-gap?

Someone one said age is only mind over matter. If you don't mind, age doesn't matter!

Students at the Cleveland Institute of Music who live among a much older generation of neighbors in the Judson Manor Senior Center are proving this. They pay no rent. Not even a penny. Instead, they perform monthly recitals for their elderly neighbors. And they also build lasting friendships.

For example,  CIM graduate student Marissa Plank, a flutist, is now in her second year living at Judson. Her neighbor is 93-year-old Clara Catliota.

"It gives us joy. My gosh, it's lovely," Catliota said. "We've all had wonderful children and they're gone now. Children grow up and go to school and then go. Mine are spread out all over. But to live with young people and learn from them again is a whole new dimension to life."

CIM and Judson began the intergenerational residency program in 2010. The musicians have their own apartments, but often join residents for coffee and practice in the facility's ballroom and lobby. Plank said it's been great to make friends with people who are roughly her grandparents' age. She was close to them and both died not long ago.

Caitlin-Lynch.jpgCaitlin Lynch, viola, and Mary Vanhoozer, piano, students at the time at the Cleveland Institute of Music, perform for fellow residents at Judson Manor in 2010. 
"I've heard people say that they think old people are boring, but they are actually so much fun. They say what they think," said Plank. "I feel like I'm the one that's lucky, getting to hang out with them."

She tries to make it to morning and afternoon coffee gatherings. She's been invited to dinner by several residents.
"When you actually start speaking to them, you find you have a lot more in common than you'd think," she said.
Catliota said she's enjoyed all of the students who have lived at Judson, but she bonded most closely with Caitlin Lynch, a violist and one of the first students to live at Judson.

"She happened to live here on the sixth floor one door away from me. We see them come and go and we'd talk and we kind of bonded because she's easy to bond with. She's very outgoing and loving," said Catliota.

Lynch was dating at the time and told Catliota she wanted her to be in her wedding. "Cait said, 'I want you to be my flower girl' and I said, 'Honey, I don't want to spoil your wedding.'"

The date was finally set for September 27. Catliota was invited and told "to bring as many people as a I want to." But Salem, Oregon – where Lynch is from – was a long way to go. So instead, Lynch is coming to her.

"I thought, if I can't go, why can't we have the little party here at Judson? We all loved Caitlin so it can be a party for everybody," said Catliota. So Caitlin and her husband Tim Mauthe were feted after their honeymoon by her former "roomies" at Judson.

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