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CHD’s Hawthorn Elder Care awarded grant by NEA

December 26, 2011
SPRINGFIELD — The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) recently awarded CHD’s Hawthorn Elder Care program a $10,000 grant to fund performances of “Talking with Dolores” a one-act play that takes a serious look at depression and suicide among the elderly.
The award is part of NEA’s Challenge America Fast-Track program, which supports extending the arts to underserved audiences. The funding targets elder Latino audiences in both Massachusetts and Connecticut. CHD is one of only 162 organizations nationwide to receive this award.
The grant allows CHD to take the successful play and expand its influence to a larger audience. “Talking with Dolores” tells the story of Mo, an 85-year-old widower who considers his life while talking to the portrait of his late wife. At the end of the performance the audience is engaged in thoughtful discussion.
Dee O’Connor, a public policy consultant on aging and long-term care, wrote the one-act play to bring attention to the issues of elder isolation, depression and suicide.
Jim Callahan, vice president of CHD Hawthorn Elder Care said, “We’re thrilled about the grant award because we will be able to reach more people with an important message.
“The play tackles serious issues, but it does so in a very creative way. More than anything, it’s an effective way to get the community at large to talk about issues that are often times uncomfortable to discuss,” he continued.
Since 2010, the play has been performed live for audiences in Massachusetts and Connecticut. The NEA grant will make it possible to schedule additional performances of “Talking with Dolores” in both states. In addition, the grant enables Hawthorn to fund “Hablando con Dolores” a Spanish-language production of the play.
An earlier grant from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health provided for taping a performance at WGBY, the Public Broadcasting Station in Springfield. That performance resulted in a DVD, which is available to groups that work with elders — councils on aging, visiting nurse associations, elder service agencies and colleges. Copies of the DVD are available by calling CHD’s Hawthorn Elder Care at 439-2165.
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