By Kysa Anderson Daniels
Residents of metro Atlanta assisted living facilities are learning about history, creative writing, Girl Scouts, politics and an assortment of other topics, thanks to a thriving community partnership with Georgia State University’s Perimeter College.
Rick Lindner, fine arts and humanities department assistant chair and associate professor of communication, started the Perimeter College Speakers Series in 2012 when asked to recruit fellow faculty members to visit assisted living residents near the Dunwoody Campus to deliver brief presentations related to a course they taught, a hobby or other area of interest.
Since then, the speakers series has grown to include three sites: one at Berman Commons Assisted Living and Memory Care in Dunwoody and others at Somerby and Village Park senior living centers in Sandy Springs and Peachtree Corners, respectively.
“It’s a fun way of giving back to the community,” Lindner said of the speakers series. “It shows that we care about the community and that Georgia State isn’t just here to care about ourselves.”
Perimeter College faculty and staff offer more than a dozen, hour-long presentations annually, covering a wide variety of topics. The speakers series has even attracted the attention of members of Perimeter’s leadership team, such as associate dean of fine arts and humanities, Dr. Laurent Ditmann. He has visited Berman Commons several times, presenting a series of talks entitled “Life for my Family in France during World War II.”
Perimeter financial department business manager and former Girl Scouts troop leader Susan Fitzgerald shared a talk called “The Girls Scouts Today,” during her assisted living presentation.
“Not many men attended, but it was big among the women,” Lindner recalled, lightheartedly. “And, she even brought some Girl Scouts cookies to share.”
Amanda Bunder works with Lindner to schedule guest speakers at Berman Commons. She says the residents appreciate the opportunity to hear from Perimeter faculty and staff.”Our residents enjoy the variety of intellectual lectures that the Georgia State professors have to offer,” Bunder said. “Every topic is so different from the next, which makes it all that more exciting for them. It shows our residents that there are many people in this world who care about their generation and want to share their knowledge, as well as learn from them.”
Mark Eister, director of military outreach at Georgia State University, is a speakers series regular, sharing his knowledge about the origination of Memorial Day and Veterans Day, among other topics. Last November, speaking at Berman Commons, Eister took a lighter approach with a talk entitled “Clean Comedy and Current Events.” He said he always tries to add a little laughter to his talks and that the residents really enjoy hearing about what’s going on in the world.
“I am not a standup comedian by any stretch, but we sure had a good time laughing — at myself mostly — and enjoying our time together,” Eister said.
The speakers series “provides a chance for us to personally connect and give back to such an important segment of our population, those who came before us, yet are still with us,” Eister said. “It allows us to revere and honor them, letting them know that they are still important and cherished.”
Lindner is looking for more faculty and staff willing to participate in the speakers series.
If you’re interested, email your speaking ideas to Lindner at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 770-274-5549.