Every person has a story to tell; some have more opportunity to share theirs than others do.
Sometimes the elderly get overlooked for a variety of reasons, but a local photographer is giving the public a chance to get to know a handful of Harford County residents who are also clients at the Medical Adult Day Care at Harford Community College.
The portraits of 14 clients in the program of Family and Children's Services of Harford County will be showcased in an exhibition called "Portrait of Care," which opens today (Wednesday) at the Liriodendron Gallery, 502 W. Gordon St., in Bel Air with an opening reception from 5 to 7 p.m.
The exhibit runs through Feb. 19 and the gallery is open Sundays, 1 to 4 p.m,. and Wednesdays, 1 to 7 p.m.
The photographs were taken by Irna Jay, who, with her husband, Peter Jay, was a one-time editor of The Aegis.
"I'm a long-time supporter of Family and Children's Services but I'd never been to the Adult Day Care Center. A few months ago I was invited for a tour and I was really impressed with the place," Irna Jay, who lives in Havre de Grace, said. "I was very interested in the clients; I thought they'd be great to photograph."
The Harford Artists Association & Gallery, a non-profit co-op of Harford County artists, has moved to Armory Marketplace, the refurbished garages behind the Bel Air Armory, and plans to open to the public this Friday, Nov. 4, at 11 a.m.
By Staff report
Nov 02, 2016 | 6:30 AM
Accompanying each photograph in the gallery exhibit will be a brief biography of each client; they are being put together by Dave Snyder, spokesman for Family and Children's Services, who said it's been an eye-opening task.
"Being able to put these biographies together, just talking to these people – sometimes I feel like it's easy to look at vulnerable elders and think 'I hope they're doing OK' and kind of feel sorry for them," Snyder said. "I've found out they've lived super-interesting lives that have taken them all over the place. I just find it incredibly interesting."
He points out 81-year-old Mary Powe, who grew up in Washington, D.C., and raised six children on her own. After working for the Department of Defense to support her family, Powe pursued a career in nursing, eventually become a nursing liaison.
"She had a secondary passion for being a nursing assistant, working in a nursing home part-time because she wanted to provide quality care for seniors. Now it's kind of come full circle because she's in our care," Snyder said. "Her daughter said she took pleasure in helping people in the final years of their lives; now we can do that for her."
Then there's Bill Herr, who at 91 is one of the oldest clients. A carpenter by trade who saw action in the Battle of the Bulge, loves the center's craft projects.
Other clients, he said, say they like the socializing, seeing their friends and smiling and telling jokes and activities that often relate back to what they used to do.
Also included in the exhibit are photographs of Peg Burgard, 91; Dennis Forman, 71; Bruce Foster, 64; Charles Fox, 63; Betty Hamm, 58; Ken Hartman, 87; Dennis Kalwa , 65; Deb Lehner, 59; Bernard Redd, 68; Viola Robinson, 84; Dona Stern, 80; and Margaret Stevens, 73.
Medical Adult Day Care is part of the non-profit organization Family and Children's Services, which provides assistance to family, children and elders in the Baltimore area. The organization has been at Harford Community College for three decades.
The photo gallery, Snyder said, gives people insight not only into what services the Medical Adult Day Care Program provides, it lets them see the people being served.
"We can do things like go to resource fairs, hand out fliers, but this gallery is kind of like a small window into the people we can help every day," he said.
Once Jay took the photographs and showed them to Family and Children's Services, they wanted a way to showcase them, to draw attention not only to the clients, but to what the Medical Adult Day Care does.
"We appreciate Mrs. Jay for taking an interest in us. She has a long career in photography. She saw what we were doing and thought it was something she would want to showcase through her talent.
"I wanted to give publicity to the medical adult day care. People don't know it's there, it's a great place," Jay said.
In addition to helping the clients, it gives their caregivers – who are often family members – a much-needed break.