As the resident population changes in my retirement community, I have noticed as the activities director that certain programs seem to die a natural death. Of course as the activities director, I think that if it is a program that has been successful in my community in the past, that I should do everything in my power to keep it going. Over the course of time, I have learned that this is flawed thinking. Sadly, I find that bridge, bingo and crafts seem to be headed in that direction. Don't get me wrong, there are still people participating in these activities, but the group members are doing exactly what is happening in the entire community - aging in place and the activities need to change along with those who are participating in them.
I have a very small group of ladies who participate in the crafts program. No one wants to be in charge of it, no one wants to say they like or dislike a suggestion from the woman who has stepped into the leader's role, and they each have their own area of expertise that they want to stick to. It is hard to run a group program like that. I've offered to find an outside instructor to lead them in weekly projects, but they are not interested in buying any supplies and my budget is not set for an instructor and the supplies.
There are a few things that this group does well and they have chosen to stick with a simple version of a crafts group. One is that the group hosts a craft sale when we have our community open to the outside community at election time. For their sale, the sell items that they have made during the year, items that are donated to them (white elephant items and jewelry) and baked goods that the residents donate the morning of the sale. The proceeds from the sale pays for their operating costs and they also make a donation to a fund that helps residents throughout our organization who have outlive their resources (due to no fault of their own). This event is what they work towards all year long.
The other thing that the crafts group does during the year is make small gifts and cards for the residents who do not get out of their apartments. They send the gifts and cards for almost every holiday to let the resident know that the community is thinking about them. Cards are made from used cards that residents donate during the year. Click on the link to see a video on how to reuse greeting cards and also another neat website is at Skidoo. Blank greeting cards are also made available for residents to use. They pick them up from our front lobby desk for free and are encouraged to send them to our residents who have been sent to our nursing home. This is another way that our community's residents remain in touch with residents who they don't see every day to say they care.
So, no, it is not a typical crafts group as you or I would see it, but it works for the ladies in the group, and for my community over-all. Who knows what the future holds. Maybe a wonderfully talented, energetic, willing and able resident will move in and change the way the activities are in our retirement community, but until then, "if it is not broken, don't fix it!" Let the residents in bingo, bridge and crafts lead you to success.... their way.