Healing Centered Activities for Our Seniors

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By Zeki Salah
Chicago Peace Fellows Intern

Elderly people are often at risk of loneliness and social isolation, and these problems were only exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. As many community organizations pivoted towards virtual services and as seniors were asked to isolate themselves as an at-risk group, three members of the Chicago Peace Fellows saw a need to reach out to elderly people in the South Side and support their needs. Dr. Pamela Phoenix of Phoenix Life Solutions, Gloria Smith of The Black Star Project, and Dawn Hodges of the Imani Community Development Corporation partnered together as part of the Chicago Peace Fellows Mutual Aid Collaborative to launch a project titled: Healing Centered Activities for Our Seniors. The project focused on the traumas of seniors and aimed to provide them with opportunities to connect with other people, discuss their emotions, and share their stories.

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Above: food drive organized by the Imani Community Development Corporation.

Healing Centered Activities for Our Seniors provided senior citizens with healing circles and one-on-one discussions with community leaders so that they could have a platform to make their physical and emotional needs met. As part of the project, seniors were given Reiki, taught breathing techniques, and instructed in yoga so that they could stay active during the pandemic. The Peace Fellows involved aimed to bring attention to the importance of elders and their need to process traumas in the hope that healing them would also benefit family dynamics and the broader community.

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Above: Healing Centered Activities for Our Seniors relied on communal support from the collaborating partners.

The project also held drives for seniors, asking what their needs were and providing them with supplies that ranged from cleaning products to cosmetics. This service delivered food and sanitary products to seniors with limited resources and mobility so that they could clean their homes and have healthy meals. However, seniors also asked for things that could help raise their self-esteem such as wigs, cologne, and ties. The program provided these cosmetic items as well to help seniors feel more confident and dignified. By addressing seniors’ wants and needs the drive was able to support their physical and emotional well-being.

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Above: Dr. Phoenix created a knitwear & crystal healer calendar to raise money for services supporting seniors’ physical and emotional well-being.

The Chicago Peace Fellows’ Mutual Aid Collaborative provided the project with the funds and connections to facilitate virtual workshops and organize drives. Seniors were connected to the project through the collaboration of Dr. Phoenix, Gloria, and Dawn’s organizations. Seniors often have difficulties finding organizations or platforms that will support them, so the three organizations associated with the project were able to pool together a group of seniors that would benefit from their help. Their collaboration also connected the partners with a network of food distribution partners so that they could find specialized items for the seniors.

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Through establishing a network of shared contacts and resources, Healing Centered Activities for Our Seniors was able to address a wider population with more supplies and services. Fellows involved in the project plan to use their new connections to continue providing services to elderly people in the South Side.

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