By Jim Nelson | July 13, 2023
Each senior living community values and cares for its residents. Each offers an assortment of programs designed to enhance the opportunities for its residents to enjoy life to the fullest. Vi (pronounced vee) has turned that around by shining the spotlight directly on its residents, turning them and their rich stories into a podcast that even has a home on Spotify.
To learn more about Vi Living’s Resident Archives podcast, Senior Living News checked in with the man who envisioned it, Vi’s VP of Operations, Darrell Baltimore.
SENIOR LIVING NEWS: What was the inspiration behind creating the podcast?
DARRELL BALTIMORE: I feel honored to be able to develop relationships with our residents where they share memorable stories of special times from their past or stories of what they are doing now in the present to lead a fulfilled life. I got the inspiration for this in my first role as an Executive Director in the early 2000s. I was humbled by some of the stories residents told me that left me in awe. Everything from a resident who was part of the first Navy Seals Team during WW2 to another resident that starred as Henry Fonda’s little sister (Ruthie Joad) in the movie Grapes of Wrath. Her name was Shirley Hanson. Among other films in which she appeared as Shirley Mills are Young People and Miss Annie Rooney, both starring Shirley Temple. She became a female pioneer in selling data-processing services in the 1960s and became the first female president of the Data Processing Management Assn. in Los Angeles. She became vice president of marketing and public relations for Management Applied Programming, a major data processing center. I felt lucky to hear about these success stories and felt that these should be shared. I think others would enjoy hearing these and thought of a way of capturing these in small bites.
SLN: How do you find, and decide on which residents to guest star on the podcast?
DB: It’s open to any resident that has a story to tell. We reach out to the Lifestyle Directors in our communities because they have the most interaction with residents in a casual setting. We ask them if they know of any residents with interesting stories or who would be good candidates. As the popularity grows for the podcast, we are getting more and more residents who want to share and take part in the podcast.
SLN: So how does the podcast work?
DB: The residents share a personal life story that is important to them. We keep each podcast to three minutes, max.
SLN: Who hosts it?
DB: The podcasts have been hosted by Tony Galvan (AVP of Living Well/Lifestyles). As we move into upcoming seasons, I will share the hosting duties with Tony.
SLN: How many residents star in each episode?
DB: So far, it’s been predominantly individual residents, but we’ve have had three couples participate.
SLN: Do you have a favorite or particularly memorable episode? If so, can you talk about it — who was the resident, and why is it your favorite/most memorable episode?
DB: My favorite so far is from Jim and Carolyn Schoonover from our Hilton Head community. They share their love of scuba diving. Diving is how they met. Jim was an instructor, and Carolyn was the only woman in the class. She received her certification under tough conditions, and they both were attracted to each other and tied the knot. They’ve made it a family affair by having all their children become certified divers.
SLN: What’s your favorite part of the overall podcast?
DB: I like the fact that the residents take pride in sharing, and I think it reinforces their self-worth. The stories our residents have are treasures that should be shared.
SLN: What’s been the resident and staff reaction so far?
DB: So far, we are seeing more interest by residents to share their stories. We are also able to track usage and downloads. We’ve had more than 2,000 downloads, [and] we started the podcast on March 6th.
SLN: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
DB: As more and more residents are generous with their personal stories, I would like to see this podcast outlast me. Without this podcast, we would never know these personal and moving stories. I think it’s a way for our residents to show the world how special their lives are, and it gives the residents a voice. We all like to be listened to.
This article was initially worked on by former SLN editor Caroline Chan.