A return to Sydney offered Lara Ritch the opportunity to connect with the wisdom, passion and insight of the older generation as part of a new social media storytelling project.
Walk the halls of each of our Montefiore Residential Care campuses, and you’ll see a display case outside each room, known as a memory box, where each resident can display their most treasured items, from souvenirs collected in their travels to precious photos of family past and present. These boxes allow residents to stamp their identity on their new home, and give staff and visitors a starting point for conversation and engagement.
They were also the inspiration for Lara Ritch, who following her family’s return to Sydney after 12 years abroad, had been spending time with residents through the Junior Friends of Montefiore playgroup at Randwick with her daughter Hannah (pictured). When COVID-19 hit, and visitors and community groups were no longer permitted onsite, Lara wanted to volunteer in some way to stay connected to the residents.
Drawing on her background in design and experience volunteering with older people in the USA, Lara began working on ideas with Community Engagement Project Manager Leila Aron and the Moments in Time project was born.
Above (from left): Maurie Zamel, Randwick resident; Shirley Margolin, Randwick resident
“I’m a huge fan of the storytelling blog Humans of New York,” Lara explains, “and I started thinking about how we could use images and digital media to help create a meaningful connection with the community.”
As in-person volunteering was suspended, Leila helped to facilitate Zoom interviews for Lara with residents at Woollahra, Randwick and Hunters Hill. Lara used each person’s mementos as a prompt for them to share significant moments from their past.
“I was worried the screen would inhibit the residents when sharing their stories and emotions,” says Lara, “but I was wrong. We all enjoyed the feeling of connection and I loved being transported to a different time.”
Starting in October, the images and stories that Lara has collected over many hours of conversation will be shared across Montefiore social media channels, and she feels the timing is ideal.
“If there is anyone I want to learn from during these uncertain times, it’s those who have survived war, immigration, economic hardship and loss,” Lara says. “They have come out stronger and with an incredible zest for life, and I want to be surrounded by that energy.”
The four stories here are just a taste of the moments in time captured as part of Lara’s project.
Above (from left): Del & Paul Tomchin, Woollahra residents; Klara Gamarnik, Hunters Hill resident