As a brand-spankin’ new employee at Friends Fellowship Community (FFC) and resident to Richmond, I have never been treated or felt like an “outsider.” Everyone—residents, co-workers, and community members—has made me feel welcomed, accepted, and valued the past few months, so I hadn’t stopped to think too long about being an “outsider.” It may sound cliché, but it is just nicer here at FFC! Thank you all for making me feel at home. I would like to share a reflection with you on the Special Performance by Caroline Klemperer-Green and Carol Lou Woodward on Saturday, May 20th. Frankly, I really had no idea who Caroline Klemperer-Green and Carol Lou were, and what they mean to our community. Of course, I had seen several musical performances of a similar nature in other facilities over the years and enjoyed them, but I certainly wasn’t expecting to have my socks knocked off during their performance… which is exactly what happened. Before I move forward, it needs to be said—Melissa Baxter deserves a huge pat on the back for arranging this event and providing us all with the elegant experience that Caroline and Carol Lou flawlessly delivered.
Cat’s out of the bag. Leading up to the performance residents were shamelessly buzzing about it and everyone I talked to seemed to have some personal connection with these two ladies. PEOPLE NOT AFFILIATED WITH FFC WERE CALLING TO INQUIRE ABOUT ATTENDING. At this point, I concluded that Caroline and Carol Lou were not your average pair. I couldn’t wait to meet them and witness their talent with my own two eyes, and eagerly anticipated Saturday all week.
The big day. When I came in on Saturday, the community room was set with 73 chairs and while the piano tuner gently tweaked it to perfection, residents from all over campus were anxiously awaiting the arrival of our special guests. Hair was fluffed, makeup was applied with special care, outfits were polished and poised, and not a single person at FFC that day was unaware of our afternoon treat!
Flash forward. Around 1:30 Caroline arrived outside of the Community Room and residents could be found making their way to the event. The Life Enhancement team was busy at work making sure everyone who needed assistance to the program were taken care of, as there were far too many planning to attend to delay the process any longer. As I rushed around from hall to hall, assisting residents, I found myself overwhelmed by the pure excitement that could be felt all around me; it was palpable, intoxicating even.
Curtain call. It should be noted that by1:45 Melissa, Sharon D., and Tammi were pulling chairs from storage, as it was evident we weren’t prepared for the number of people pouring into the Community Room. By 2:00, it was packed wall to wall and I was thankful Jeff Baxter wasn’t there—surely this room had reached max capacity, and still, more slipped in as…
No introduction necessary. The room quieted as Melissa eloquently introduced our special guests, who clearly needed no introduction. We then took a moment to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Carol Lou, who selflessly chose to spend a good chunk of her special day with us.
Now, for your feature presentation… The clock read 2:08, and after Caroline briefly addressed the crowd, they began to play. As I watched and listened to the incredibly talented pair dig into their first song of the set behind the screen of my iPhone, I was moved almost to tears. In this indescribable moment, I locked eyes with a good friend and knew I wasn’t alone. It was a total “you have to see it to believe it moment”—the energy in the room was soul touching and gave me goosebumps, the good kind. Unsurprisingly, the voluminous crowd didn’t miss a beat, and chimed in almost instantaneously (did you all plan this??), singing as one, to the dynamic duo’s natural harmony.
Mind, body and soul. In an attempt to take in the magic that engulfed me, I gave the room a once over. Over 110 people were in attendance, not including the Life Enhancement team, other employees, or the dynamic duo. To describe this event as merely “special” is a hugely gross understatement. Caroline and Carol Lou captured the best parts of us in that room: feet were bouncing off the patterned carpet, hands were tapping legs that couldn’t stay still, lips were moving seamlessly to tunes we know and love. It was a delightfully captivating, engaging, and moving performance that will stay with us all far into the future. This memorable experience was one for the ages—an experience this outsider will remember forever.
Lessons learned. The lovely performance Saturday reminded me that it’s not about the brick and mortar that surrounds us all or the material things, rather it’s about connection, community, shared experiences and love that makes life worth living. Fortunately for us, FFC is rich in connection and shared experiences. Fortunately for me, I am reminded of this lesson almost daily through my interactions with you all, making me fall more in love with my job and FFC each passing day.
Merci beaucoup de dames, reviens bientôt. Thanks for bringing us the love, Caroline and Carol Lou! From all of FFC, we are so grateful you both took the time out of your busy schedules to spend the afternoon sharing your talents with us! Every individual present left the performance with happier hearts, lighter minds, and smiling faces. You will always have a place with us at FFC, please visit soon 🙂
by Jennifer Dibert