Wind Crest Residents Write About Their Life Experiences -- and Publish

HIGHLANDS RANCH, CO (January 6, 2014) -- Once a week, members of  the Wind Crest Writers' Group  gather to share their work with each other and bond over words. At least 22 writers sit around four tables forming a square and nod their heads as each person reads into a microphone and makes their words come to life. You don't have to be a professional writer to join the group; in fact, many members didn't start honing their craft until they moved to Wind Crest, a retirement community in Highlands Ranch, CO. There is a suggested word count for their writing --  usually no more than 500 words -- so that everyone has a chance to share. "It feels safe to express yourself fully and honestly," Beverly Balter says of the group. There is no critiquing of pieces, nor is there constructive criticism; rather, it's a place to be one with words -- his or her own and each other's. For the Writers' Group, writing and reading become an interactive process. To get the group started, there's a topic each week, but the writers aren't limited to this topic alone. Topics range from a concept like "porch memories" to a word like "never" to an action like "waiting." Mary Cooprider, the facilitator of the group, introduces the topic and keeps things moving along so that the hour and a half is filled with the spoken word. Occasionally, the group will have a lesson, like the time Garrett Ray led workshops on the qualities of newspaper writing and how that can make any type of writing---poetry, prose, or nonfiction---more accessible. Garrett wrote for the Littleton Independent and taught journalism at Colorado State University. Since moving to Wind Crest, he says he's been focusing on writing. Garrett recently shared a heartfelt piece with the group about meeting a "celebrity." He was on a local press bus to meet Hubert Humphrey in 1964, when he unexpectedly met renowned Washington Post reporter David Broder. Broder was known for genuinely listening and being interested in every person he met, whether "senators, county chairmen, schoolteachers, receptionists, or unemployed machinists," Garrett says. Garrett eulogized Broder in his piece: "Before that night was over, I got to shake Hubert Humphrey's hand as he boarded a hotel elevator. But the celebrity I have remembered and admired for nearly half a century was that quiet reporter who wanted to learn something new." Members of the group write mostly personal stories. Jeannette Albersheim has chronicled her memories as an American Red Cross nurse in France during World War II, where she put a single piece of Big Red gum on 1,000 patients' pillows just to bring them joy.  All of Albersheim's lively American Red Cross stories are now on the Web at http://redcrossatwar.blogspot.com/  . Edie Collins wrote a story about her conflict when a visitor from Korea brought a cowboy hat and toy gun as gifts for her children, which challenged her beliefs about not letting her children have toy weapons. And group member Gene Corrigan selects several contributions each week to add to a growing archive on the Wind Crest residents' web site. The group has published several collections of stories as booklets for Wind Crest visitors and residents to enjoy. Just before Christmas 2013, several hundred residents enjoyed a well-received program using "Holiday Memories" writings contributed by members of the Writers' Group and produced by the Wind Crest Readers' Theatre Group. This year the writers plan to study and write short dialogues for production by the Readers' Theatre actors. Members of the Writers' Group would tell you that being within a group of writers validates not only the writing but each person's