You’re helping elders share their life stories

You’re helping elders share their life stories

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An elder man smiles joyfully while holding two mallets and playing a drum

David smiles as a calm, rhythmic sound fills his room.

Across from him, CATA Faculty Artist JoAnne Spies gently strums a metal drum. “Listening to this music is so soothing,” he says. “It makes me think of my health. I can feel it resonating through my body. Going through all the tension and pain. It’s healing.”

Your support is bringing music, poetry and art to elders like David at nursing homes across the Berkshires. Through CATA’s Art Cart program, a team of CATA “troubadours”, led by JoAnne, go room to room, inspiring elders to share their memories, life stories and talents.

In the next room, JoAnne greets a woman named Helen. She listens as Helen shares stories about her family and life as a young woman. A moment later, JoAnne is playing guitar, singing along and bringing Helen’s stories to life through music.

“The Art Cart brings me to places in people’s hearts where joy resides,” says JoAnne. “You see the difference immediately. People light up and say ‘you’ve made my day!’ For someone who might be down, who feels like a drooping flower, it lifts them up like you just gave them water.”

Elder man in a wheelchair with a woman holding a guitar
Your support is bringing music, poetry and art to elders like David at nursing homes across the Berkshires through CATA’s Art Cart program.

Thanks to the generosity of people like you, the Art Cart has been forging meaningful and often therapeutic connections for elders in our community for over twenty years— including those with Alzheimer’s and dementia— as well as patients in rehabilitation. Now, because of your support, CATA’s outreach has expanded to welcome two new troubadours: Jeannie Laurin and Wes Buckley.

“CATA’s visits are a true miracle,” says a nurse at one of the six Berkshire Healthcare settings that CATA serves. “It gives residents the chance to truly be elders— people whose wisdom is heard, respected, and treasured.”

For resident Julie, the Art Cart visits are a highlight of her week. As soon as she hears JoAnne play her steel drum, she sits up in her wheelchair. She’s instantly transported:

“I’m somewhere else on an island,” she says. “This is the music behind me. And the scene in front of me is breathtaking.” She smiles. “It fills me with a joy I can’t even explain.”

“Listening is a big part of it,” says JoAnne. “I ask about their work, their life. Then I listen with my whole heart. And that changes people.”

As JoAnne gets ready to leave for the day, she sees Helen again, rolling her wheelchair down the hall. “Did you hear it?” she exclaims to another resident. “She wrote me a song!”


Your support helps elders like David, Helen, and Julie find joy and share their life stories.

We can’t do it without you! Donate to CATA and make a difference today!