MILR Outreach Program Takes the Arts to the People

2010-2011 Issue 1

Bringing Stimulating Programming to Seniors’ Residences

“When are you coming back?” When Harry Shapiro and other MILR volunteers take their art, music and theatre presentations and performances on the road, that’s a typical question they hear. What better testimonial to the effectiveness of MILR’s Community Outreach program? Over the past 10 years, MILR volunteers have taken a little bit of McGill to sites all over the island of Montreal, the South Shore and even as far away as Lennoxville.

Recently, Outreach chairman Shapiro gave a talk on the life of George Gershwin at the Westmount One residence, combining biographical information, videos, and of course Gershwin’s memorable music. Shapiro draws on his vast musical knowledge as well as his experience giving similar presentations regularly in Florida and on cruise ships.

This fall, fellow volunteers René Welter and Morty Ellis will present on other musical themes, including classical music. More contemporary areas to explore might even include ABBA, the Swedish pop legends. Other Outreach participants such as Ann Weinstein and her Golden Stagers take musicals and drama to people who may not have the means or mobility to make it downtown for the regular programming.

The most popular of these one-hour programs are definitely the arts-based ones. “Whether we cover art, music or theatre, our audiences love it,” says Shapiro. “We call it ‘edu-tainment,’ as it’s a lighter approach than our typical MILR format. It really helps us connect with a new audience, and we often reconnect with past MILR members this way too.”

Shapiro, his fellow Outreach programmers and coordinator Gloria Harding have big plans to take the McGill and MILR experience to more residences, and they are only limited by the number of volunteers. “The demand is growing, and of course the senior population is expanding, so there are many opportunities for us. A top priority now is to find francophone volunteers to help us make inroads into primarily French-speaking residences.”

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