Dr. Lucia Knoles, Professor of English at Assumption College, enthralled her audience in the Saxe Room of the Worcester Public Library on December 3 with her presentation of Telling Our Stories is What Saves Us: Why Autobiographies, Oral Histories, and Family Stories Matter.
In addition to her position at the College, Dr. Knoles is an advocate for the needs of nursing home residents and is a licensed Long-Term Care Ombudsman for Massachusetts. One of her outstanding professional accomplishments has been the establishment of a s Roundtable at a local assisted living facility. The roundtable is based on several fundamental principles. These include the following: everybody has a story; everybody has a right to have her/his story told; by writing our stories, we continue to learn; by sharing our stories, we become a community, by passing on our stories, we give our families the gift only we can give.
Dr. Knoles began this project hoping that a few individuals would find the process useful and meaningful. At its start the group had only four participants. However, it has developed into a very successful undertaking. Three roundtables were used to accommodate all the individuals who wanted to share their stores. Today the Eisenberg published two books.
Dr. Knoles said, "I think the roundtable gives participants a sense that they are using time, rather than using it up. Writing in the privacy of their own apartments or discussing stories in class, engages people's minds and allows them to produce something they can be proud of ... I think sharing their autobiographies has made it possible to see what connects them is more important than what sets them apart from one another..."
Dr. Knoles also talked about her recent year-long sabbatical which she used to improve the quality of people's lives. She attended a seminar in Dignity Therapy and trained volunteers at the Jewish HealthCare Center to assist hospice patients in writing autobiographical statements to leave their family and loved ones. She has has also worked with the daughter of an Alzheimer's patient, teaching her s life using words and pictures. Dr. Knoles has been working most recently on two six-month autobiography classes at Christopher Heights in Marlborough and Whitney Place in Northborogh. She is collaborating with Dr. Joel Popkin of St. Vincent Hospital and Reliant Medical Group and his medical team on this project. The medical team is surveying the participants of these classes in an effort to ascertain whether their participation in autobiography writing projects help to improve their medical, psychological, and cognitive functioning.
Dr. Knoles’talk ended with an enthusiastic and engaging question and answer session. This free seminar was part of WWHP’s ongoing commitment to present quality programs free of charge to the greater Worcester community, and the mission of WWOHP to create community s stories.