Art of Aging: 'People and Stories' brings seniors together through reading

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Art of Aging: 'People and Stories' brings seniors together through reading. Watch the report from Tamala Edwards on Action News at Noon on September 27, 2018.

The People and Stories organization has been using books to create community for more than forty years.

Every Monday, Patricia Smith moderates and leads a literature discussion group in Trenton, New Jersey. When we met with them, they were sharing their thoughts on a novel called "Women with Big Eyes."

"I love to read. I love group discussions," Smith said.

This People and Stories program is called "Crossing Borders with Literature," and it's a mix of seniors from Trenton and Princeton.

"You have all the ladies sitting around the table and everyone has an opinion," says group member Elenora J. Frederick.

"Every now and then we can relate our personal selves to what we're reading. And that makes it even more interesting," says Carmen Noble Brown.

Smith says the diversity and growth of the group are what make it unique.

"They are, you know, labor workers, city workers, whatever - state workers. But once we included the Crossing Boards with Princeton, Lawrence and where ever they were coming from, we had the people who were professors, the people who were teachers," Smith said. "And then you have different races coming together. It's great."

"There is no division because in the end everyone is hugging, kissing and you know we're eating," she said.

And relationships built over a shared love of books are now much bigger than that.

"It's a collective here, a really tight-knit group... We go to dinners together outside of this," Smith said.

Smith first started working with People and Stories decades ago, but took a break when she became a school principal. Now that she's retired, she's back.

"I see Pat as a master teacher. She knows how to get people to respond. It's incredible," said group member Jacqueline Saba.

For Pat Smith, People and Stories is a great second act.

"It just gives me so much joy. It gives your life some type of meaning," Smith said.

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