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Brooksby Village celebrates Diversity Month

Dynamic programming encompasses full range of human experience

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July 10th, 2017
Geraldine Tasco chairs the newly formed Diversity Committee at Brooksby, an Erickson Living community in Peabody, Mass.
Geraldine Tasco chairs the newly formed Diversity Committee at Brooksby, an Erickson Living community in Peabody, Mass.

Diversity Month at Brooksby Village gets bigger every year.

Each March, Brooksby’s community members and staff put together an array of Diversity Month offerings to explore diversity using the widest lens possible. In 2016, Diversity Month included 20 events. This year, the Peabody, Mass., Erickson Living community hosted nearly 40 events in just 31 days.

“There was quite a buzz around campus throughout the month of March, both from residents and staff,” says Rev. Chad Kidd, Brooksby’s pastoral ministries manager who oversees Diversity Month planning. “It was a full, fun, and educational month celebrating diversity in its broadest sense.”

What’s your story?

Kidd opened this year’s dialogue by sharing one fact from his own background.

“If all you knew about me was that I grew up in the south and used to say ‘y’all,’ it would be easy to define me based on that single story from my life,” said Kidd. “When I think about diversity, I can’t help but think that each of us are complex human beings. It’s impossible to truly engage people without hearing all the stories that make them who they are.”

Kidd challenged residents and staff to approach each other with the mindset that everyone has multiple stories.

“Let’s celebrate diversity this month by truly getting to know what makes us all diverse: our stories,” he said.

Diving deeper

This year’s Diversity Month programming saw the return of popular events from previous years, including ‘Tasting Brooksby’s Diversity,’ where Brooksby’s chefs prepared food from around the world; a drum circle; an Irish music concert; and a performance by Brooksby’s Jewish Choir.

Diversity Month also probed current events and issues faced in popular culture.

“Our programming delved deep this year,” says Kidd. “Our residents wanted to take on the subjects of interreligious dialogue; race; LGBTQ issues; and -isms or phobias, such as racism, homophobia, ageism, and Islamaphobia.”

One event was an interactive race and role-play workshop, where participants learned how to respond to racism “in the moment.”

There was a showing of the film Gen Silent and accompanying discussion with staff from the LGBT Aging Project.

Brooskby’s pastoral staff led a two-part dialogue about the Christian and Jewish faiths.

“We had films, dialogues, workshops, concerts, and original programming created in Brooksby’s own television studio,” says Kidd. “It was an incredible array of Diversity Month offerings that we created and celebrated together.”

Healthy discussions

Joan Metcalfe moved to Brooksby in 2006 from Minnesota to be closer to her three daughters who live in Massachusetts. She’s attended Brooksby’s Diversity Month events in years past but says this year’s Diversity Month was “just exceptional.”

“By far, it was the best Diversity Month we’ve ever had,” says Joan. “People have come to Brooksby from all over the world. I love that. It’s so nice to be a part of a community that’s alive.”

Joan says she appreciated this year’s deeper look at sensitive topics.

“We’re all trying to keep up with the world as it is,” she says. “It’s healthy to talk about what’s going on around us.”

The visual displays around the community also inspired Joan.

“I love the flags from different countries that line our walkways during Diversity Month,” she says. “I also liked the world map that traveled to each clubhouse. Residents and staff put a pushpin in the country of their origin, so we could see the variety of backgrounds represented here at Brooksby.”

Newly formed Diversity Committee

As March began to wind down at Brooksby, the community’s interest in diversity programming did not.

“Residents were inspired to form an ongoing diversity group to continue these discussions all year,” says Kidd.

Geraldine Tasco chairs the newly formed Diversity Committee. Geraldine moved to Brooksby in June 2016 from Stoneham.

“One month out of the year is not enough to celebrate diversity,” says Geraldine, a mother of two with a master’s degree in mental health who’s currently studying for the exam to earn her social work license. “We’re learning to embrace each other, to celebrate our differences, and to acknowledge all the ways we are alike.”

The Diversity Committee meets monthly to plan events and discussions centered on the topic of diversity.

“We want to keep the energy alive that was sparked by our March celebration in a rich and meaningful way all year long,” says Kidd.

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