Annemarie Thompson, a senior biology major at TCU, founded Crafts & Conversations. Its objective is to connect students with seniors at Trinity Terrace, a Fort Worth retirement community, through fun crafting projects and conversation. Thompson says, “While a plethora of issues have been exposed by the pandemic, I was struck by the problem of social isolation within retirement communities. My grandfather lived his final years in a retirement community where he struggled with loneliness. Due to safety restrictions that have limited outside visitors, loneliness and depression have only been exacerbated. Crafts & Conversations was made possible with the help of the Experiential Projects to Impact the Community (EPIC) grant, which provides up to $2,500 for pre-health student-led projects at TCU.”
Trinity Terrace residents have shared how much they enjoy hearing from students, as many residents are TCU alumni or have Horned Frog connections. “Students have loved getting to know each other over Zoom and learning from the residents' rich stories of the history of Fort Worth, from Magnolia Street and Bass Performance Hall to retellings of TCU alumni escapades,” Thompson says.
Every craft revolves around a monthly theme. For instance, the February meeting centered around Valentine's Day. The students and residents painted hearts on mini canvases to make a mural entitled, "Although we were far apart, we were together at heart." March focused on personal growth for spring by painting and decorating succulent pots. April's craft activity was painting watercolor stationary so that participants could write handwritten notes to family and friends.
Carol Stanford is a resident at Trinity Terrace and a member of the TCU Silver Frogs, an extended education program for people over the age of 50. Stanford has participated in the Crafts & Conversations classes on Zoom, and she says, “I think they've learned that just because you're 'old' doesn't mean you can't be interesting. I told them about going ziplining in the Hill Country last month. (Checked that off my bucket list and ready to go again.) I've enjoyed hearing about what they're doing in school…I also have enjoyed doing the crafts together.”