Adopt-a-Grandparent Storytime hosted at Vincentian Home
Tuesday, December 3, 2019 | 12:01 AM
Ingrid Kalchthaler started a Nov. 25 Vincentian Home program by stating her intent to “show that the world continues to be a beautiful place,” despite news headlines to the contrary.
Kalchthaler, Shaler North Hills Library’s (SNHL) youth services coordinator, led nearly 30 senior care community residents and six children attending the Adopt-a-Grandparent Storytime with songs and rhymes.
Songs like “If You’re Happy and You Know It” and The Wiggles’ “Shake Your Sillies Out” got the group moving.
“It makes you move things that you want to do and can’t do,” resident Catherine Brecht said about the sessions combining light physical exercise in a fun environment.
“Remember that time you left your knee at the library?” Kalchthaler teased, as she sang Brendan Parker’s “Body Parts” song. She encouraged attendees to place pretend bubblegum pieces on their body parts, correlating with the song, lest they leave behind their limbs, digits and noses.
“I love it. It brings backs memories,” said Sister Lorraine Marie Ferlin, Vincentian Home resident and former kindergarten and first-grade teacher. “I exaggerate it (children’s stories) like she (Kalchthaler) does. She’s wonderful with the kids, and they mimic everything she does.”
Sumi Saylor, 4, enjoyed performing “The Wheels on the Bus” the most. Her mother, Kaori, brought her to the event because Sumi has visited a senior care center in Japan, where the family resides part-time, when not in Franklin Park.
Kalchthaler also read Zachariah OHora’s “Stop Snoring, Bernard!”
Jude Hazard, Vincentian’s communications and marketing director, thinks multigenerational programming is mutually beneficial for senior citizens and youths.
“Enhancing the quality of life for our residents in all aspects of their lives, whether it’s spiritual needs, mental needs or emotional needs, is our top priority; it’s our mission. It’s what we’re all about, so these types of programs, in our minds, are just as essential as a robust clinical program or a spiritual care program, that all of these elements come together to help them live their best life.”
While employed as Bethel Park Public Library’s youth services head, Kalchthaler developed the “Adopt-a-Grandparent” initiative with Mary Mullen, senior adult services librarian. They realized they shared similar goals of reaching patrons beyond the library’s confines. Mullen visited people at nursing homes and provided home delivery services of library materials, and Kalchthaler, meanwhile, frequented schools and developed children’s programming.
Through their outreach, they discovered a need for the program upon witnessing people only interacting with others of shared ages and backgrounds.
She and Mullen spoke about Adopt-a-Grandparent Storytime at the Public Library Association’s 2008 conference in Minneapolis.
“It was absolutely terrifying and exhilarating,” Kalchthaler said.
Joyce Mangis, who works in the SNHL Children’s Department, has partnered with Kalchthaler since September to offer the program at Vincentian Home. They will start a program at 10:30 a.m. Dec. 16 at Kane Community Living Center in Ross. Visit shalerlibrary.org for future dates.
“We try to make it very clear that we are not talking down to anyone of any age, but we are really there just doing something jointly, and if you want to sing along to a little kid song, well look at me. I’m up there with a big pink hat on and who doesn’t love a good ‘Wheels on the Bus?’
“We found in Bethel Park when we visited many memory care facilities, that people who perhaps could not remember something more recent were reminded of their childhood or the time during which they were parents or caregivers. And it seems to bring an incredible amount of joy.”