GENESEO, N.Y. – SUNY Geneseo students have resurrected The Memories Campaign at the college (formerly Heard @ Geneseo) to continue the organization’s legacy of documenting the lives of senior citizens in the region.
The campaign recently celebrated the release of its newest life profile, or “chapbook,” of the well-known alumna and community member Patricia Malet Fennell ’65.
The campaign has its roots in the Edgar Fellows (Honors Program) Senior Capstone project of Christopher Roth ’11.
“His idea was to build a connection between Geneseo students and community seniors based on the value of his grandparents’ stories,” said Casey Vincelette, head interviewer for the project and a senior English and communication double major at the college.
The interviews allow the community’s senior citizens to reflect on their lives, contributions, and achievements.
“We have really cool seniors in the community,” said Vincelette.
Since Roth’s graduation, the idea has transformed into a student-run organization complete with a constitution, executive board, and operating procedures. The club partners with the Departments of English, History and Anthropology to recruit students. Wes Kennison from the Department of Languages and Literatures is the new faculty advisor.
The college stores approximately 30 chapbooks in its archives. It represents a piece of history that the college is committed to preserving.
For the newest chapbook, Fennell invited student interviewers to her cottage on Conesus Lake, which she proudly calls “my little piece of heaven.” She was impressed with how friendly the students were, and was pleased that today’s students have a genuine interest to meet and learn about others in the community.
When Fennell received her own copies of the chapbook, she felt a wave of pure joy.
“I am giving this as a Christmas gift to my entire family, and also to the friends pictured as a remembrance,” said Fennell, who is the campaign’s unofficial community ambassador and mentor.
“I want to open that door a little bit to help keep the project visible,” she said.
Fennell recently helped host a G.O.L.D. workshop at the college and will make a presentation at an upcoming Geneseo Rotary Club meeting to increase awareness of the project.
“Whether they have lived here their entire lives and seen a ton of changes, or have lived all over the world, it is terrific to share our elders’ stories and show that they are valued,” said Memories Campaign Editor-in-Chief Holly Gilbert, a senior economics and English double major at Geneseo. “We hope to continue this proud tradition into the future.”
Students and others in the campus community interested in participating in the project should email Vincelette.
News release written by College Communications and Marketing intern Kitrick McCoy ’18.