By LANCE CRANMER firstname.lastname@example.org
COLUMBUS, Ohio – It’s a place to sing, to socialize, to feel comfortable.
Designed with the intention to provide support for loneliness and depression across the long-term care spectrum, Java Music Club has been a continued success across National Church Residences’ facilities.
“Ever since our clients were presented with the Java Club, our clients have fallen in love with it,” said Kimberly Johnson, the Life Enrichment Leader at National Church Residences Center for Senior Health North in Columbus.
She said that one of her clients told her that, “This group helps me come to an understanding about my life, and makes me appreciate my mom more and more.”
Currently there are multiple Columbus facilities offering Java – including CSH North, Avondale and Commons at Third, among others.
“I’ve been doing Java for about a year now and the experience has been very rewarding,” said ThaiShann Fain, the Employment Coordinator for Commons at Third, a permanent supportive housing site in central Columbus. “I was asked to assist a case manager, that’s how I got involved.”
Thai’s Java Club is a smaller group that comes together on the third Wednesdays of each month.
“We’ve had the same residents come and participate in Java and they seem to love it,” she said. “We laugh, we cry and sometimes shout ‘Amen!’ when it gets too good. But most of all we come together for a good time.”
As participants eat lunch, Thai begins the meetings by telling club members that what they talk about in Java stays in Java, and that everyone is welcome to share their thoughts and feelings.
“Java is a place where you can let your innermost thoughts out and no one will judge you,” she said. “The topics that are chosen seem to mirror what some of us are going through so we sing and discuss what is on our minds.”
At Commons at Third, the Java Music Club morphed from its original form when the Willis Group, an international risk advisor and insurance company, got involved.
“The Willis office in Columbus wanted an opportunity to give back,” said Brian Foy, Vice President of the Columbus Willis office. “We all made the decision, this is our chance to give back. The National Church Residences location (Commons at Third) is two minutes from our office. It gives us a chance to bring some lunch and meet some new friends.”
Brian said a group of around 10 Willis staffers attend the club, now known as the Willis Lunch Bunch and Java.
“We’ve enjoyed the company and we look forward to continuing it in the future,” he said.
After the club gatherings begin with an introductory song, the topic of the day is announced and members get a chance to open up and talk.
When it’s an individual’s turn to speak, they are handed an aboriginal talking stick.
The topic during this particular session was helping others and what have members done in the past and what can they do in the future to accomplish this.
“You know you touch someone when everyone in the group starts crying,” Thai said. “Neither the residents or the folks from Willis have any idea what topic will be chosen, but we have been blessed to pick the right topics and it seems to be at the right time for most.”
After everyone has the chance to speak – some speak at length, other choose to simply listen – the music books open and everyone joins in for a song.
Each Java Music Club is different. But each one operates under the same guiding principle listed in the books: “To share our experience, strength and hope, to support one another and have fun.”
While the group at Third has around a dozen people at each meeting, Kimberly said that an average group at CSH North is around 40.
“We had to make our groups larger,” said Amber Adkins, the Center for Senior Health Site Manager at Avondale, in the northwest Columbus suburb of Dublin. “Clients have shown great interest in listening to each other share stories, thoughts and feelings. Singing is a huge hit around Avondale as well.”
With the success of Java at so many National Church Residences sites, plans are in the works to expand the program to three other sites in Ohio, North Carolina and Georgia.