WARWICK – (July 15) Once upon a time people gathered around campfires or, in more recent times, on their front porches where stories would be told over and over. Somewhere, however, that art of storytelling was lost. But thanks to the skill and dedication of Bill McGinty a multi talented activities aide, storytelling is alive and well for the residents of Mount Alverno Center.
Mount Alverno Center, a New York State approved Adult Home with an Assisted Living Program, is part of the Warwick Campus of Bon Secours Charity Health System. The facility shares that Campus with St. Anthony Community Hospital and Schervier Pavilion, a skilled nursing facility.
McGinty is a retired high school teacher, world traveler and scholar with five degrees including a doctorate. He is also an artist, musician, singer and storyteller, all talents acquired while growing up in his native Ireland at a time when people lived without electricity and were expected to provide their own entertainment.
Every Friday as many as 40 residents gather in the activities room to hear well-crafted stories told by McGinty.
There is one, for example, about a 14-year old girl in 1834 who becomes an American hero after saving shipwrecked sailors in her rowboat. Another, “Ellen the Dance,” is about a farm girl who becomes an Irish champion dancer but, after loosing the use of her legs in an accident, overcomes her anger and bitterness when a young boy with disfigured legs teaches her the joy of life.
That last tale prompted one resident to suggest that McGinty, who is also an accomplished artist, paint pictures to go along with his stories.
“The residents are very avid listeners,” said McGinty. “They were also brought up listening to stories on the radio. But I thought the idea to paint pictures to go along with the stories was a good one and that’s what I do now. And they love to see what I’m coming up with next.
McGinty explained that the activities program at Mount Alverno is designed to keep the residents both physically and mentally active. And all programs at Mt. Alverno Center are designed to meet the psychosocial and physical needs of the residents with activities that are not only enjoyable but are also intended to improve their health and quality of life.