During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when many were sheltering in place, Ermadean Wilcox took note of a white chair outside of her apartment at Concordia Village Life Plan Community, in Springfield, Illinois. This chair was a means of communication – her mail was placed here; meals, snacks, and treats could be found here; Bingo cards, puzzles, and other activities were left here. One of those activities was a writing prompt that encouraged Ermadean to write a poem about the white chair outside her home and her longing to see it gone so she would know then that world returned to normal.
These writing prompts were created and shared by the Concordia Village Lifestyle Enrichment department to engage residents. But the outcome of the prompts became much more than any of them could have imagined when the best submissions were brought together and published as a book.
“I was rather excited!” said Yvonne McCullough, another Concordia Village resident who contributed to the book. “I never did anything like this before. I have something in a book!”
Yvonne submitted several pieces to the book. One of them was about her and her husband’s, who is a retired Lutheran pastor, assignment to a congregation on the Saskatchewan prairie in their first year of marriage. Upon their arrival to the congregation, the parsonage was still under construction and let’s just say that some of the temporary housing options the kind church members suggested were interesting!
Concordia Village resident and book contributor Bill Sherrick was more skeptical when he heard that their writings were going to be published.
He thought, “Well maybe.”
He was pleasantly surprised when the book was published and enjoyed reading the finished book.
Bill contributed a murder mystery piece to the book. He participated in responding to the writing prompts to provide a diversion for his wife who had memory problems. These writing prompts gave them something to do that was fun and different.
Yvonne participated for a similar reason: Something stimulating to do while sheltering in place. The writing prompts are one example of the many activities provided to residents at Concordia Village, and now that sheltering in place is no longer required many of these activities are returning to in-person gatherings, meetings, and get togethers.
One recent get together at Concordia Village was especially exciting. To celebrate the book publishing, Concordia Village hosted a book signing. Residents and guests were able to purchase a copy of the book – with proceeds going to residents in need of assistance – and many of the authors were available to sign the book. But the real celebration is that this resilient community came through a challenging time safely and had something to show for it.
When looking for an ending for the book, appropriately titled Life Inside the Chair, Ermadean provided a second poem. This one focused on the white chair being folded up and no longer needed as life returned to normal.
To learn more about Concordia Village, including how to set up a tour, visit the Concordia Village web page.