A beautiful multi-generational partnership was created when Repair the World’s Executive Director, Lily Brent had a flash of insight about the COVID-19 virus. “As Repair has pivoted its work to adhere to social distancing norms, we realized that so many older adults in Atlanta have lots to teach us about resilience. They’ve weathered crises, ranging from the Great Depression, and The Holocaust, to war and immigration, and now a global pandemic. This seemed like the perfect moment to collect oral histories from older adults who are currently homebound and isolated, and who have incredible stories to share,” Lily Brent said.
As Repair began to strategize about making it happen, The Breman Museum was a logical partner and Executive Director Leslie Gordon was thrilled to help. “We have over 100 highly-trained volunteers, many of whom are retirees, who we rely on to give tours to 13,000 school children yearly. During the pandemic, we can’t open our doors and they cannot lead tours, see their friends, or share their wisdom. This was a brilliant way to keep our key volunteers engaged. Federation’s Amy Glass connected us with Repair the World, and with AgeWell Atlanta and suddenly, L’dor Va dor: Oral Histories of Resilience was born.
Three different programs collaborated on L’dor Va Dor. Jennifer Curry, AgeWell Atlanta’s Information & Referral Concierge/Manager, introduced volunteers to AgeWell Atlanta so that they can direct older adults to 1-866-AGEWELL for assistance if/when they need it. She also helped volunteers appreciate the common challenges faced by many older adults – including COVID-specific scams. Jennifer Reid, who manages volunteers at The Breman, helped establish guidelines for how to match interviewers and interviewees. Ben Alpert became the point person at Repair the World to oversee volunteer training. The project was ready to roll.
So far about 15 interviewer matches have been made. The hope is to generate a surge of stories about life during the COVID-19 pandemic, a singular event in history,” Jeremy Katz, The Breman’s archivist said. “This oral history project will be integrated into The Breman’s existing archive of more than 1,300 oral histories documenting Jewish life and Holocaust survivors who settled in the region. They will be transcribed, catalouged, and made available online so that future generations can learn how the Jewish community overcame the challenges of COVID-19.”
If you’d like to become an interviewer, sign up here.