Everyone remembers when they hauled a treasured possession to school and told their friends why they loved it so much? Well, now they have the chance to share on a whole different level with Show & Tell for grown-ups.
The public is invited to bring old photos, letters, family mementos, or even an ancient artifact to show and tell the stories behind these items. Personal Historian Eileen Kent and Owner/Director of Stories of a Lifetime will host the event at the Oneida County Historical Society, 1608 Genesee Street, Utica, NY 13502 on May 10, 2014 at 1:00PM.
Grown-up Show & Tell events are happening across North America and abroad in partnership with the Association of Personal Historians (APH). Anyone is welcome to join in the fun and become part of the conversation. Perhaps it’s an old letter parents wrote to one another during the war, maybe an instrument or treasured personal item/artifact passed down through generations The possibilities are endless. Participants don’t have to show & tell – they can just look, listen & enjoy. It’s sure to evoke memories, laughter & tears.
It’s free, fun, and the stories will warm the heart and remind you of the joy of stories!
The Mission of APH is to support its members in recording, preserving and sharing life stories of people, families, communities and organizations around the world.
Procrastination is not an option. Memories fade. People die. APH envisions a world in which the story of every person, family, community, and organization is recorded and preserved.
Stories of a Lifetime was created in 2005 with the mission of helping individuals, families, businesses and organization preserve their history as a movie.
The magnet hanging on the side of Eileen Kent’s silver Honda Accord bares a slogan that leaves some room for interpretation- one more tempting than the others depending upon proximity to the holidays.
“I shoot your relatives so that you don’t have to,” it reads, with a simplicity that could cause the casual observer to wonder if they’ve stumbled across one of the FBI’s lazier sting operations.
Fortunately for overbearing mothers-in-law and ungrateful children everywhere, the accompanying graphic of a smoking video camera grants the solicitation a definitive (and some might argue important) distinction. Kent isn’t in the business of ending stories, but immortalizing them on video for generations to come.
Her Utica-based business, Stories of a Lifetime, creates a visual record of the hobbies, treasures, and people of Central New York. Over the course of several interviews, Kent compiles footage that is edited and intercut with photos and snapshots, integrating stolen moments with living, breathing history.
Over the course of her now eight year career as a personal historian and videographer, Kent has worked on a variety of projects ranging in scope and scale. She’s created family and business histories, pet tributes and memorials, and home and collection inventories for insurance purposes. Her busy schedule has kept her leaping from one life narrative to the next.
“Most people think nobody wants to hear their story. They think ‘I don’t have a story, I’m just an average person.’ Almost everybody says that, but everybody has a story and I’m very good at convincing them of that,” Kent said.
She put that theory to the test during a 19 year career as a councilor at the Women’s Consultation Center, where she learned how to navigate the highs and lows of people’s personal narratives.
After a comparatively brief stint working at a senior activity and resource center, Kent joined the Association for Personal Historians, an organization devoted to condensing individual histories and using them to fill books, photo albums and the occasional silver screen.
While Kent was certainly no stranger to words like “lights,” “camera,” and “action,” it had never occurred to her to string them all together before. Prior to joining the APH, she had a been a technological holdout who only purchased a computer to view photos of her first-born granddaughter. Becoming a personal historian and professional videographer meant spending retirement money on a camera, lighting equipment and editing software- an investment rewarded with four months devoted to tutorials, trials and errors.
“I look at my colleagues work and it drives you to become better. We have a video share every year at conference where people will offer a five minute or a seven minute clip to share with the people who come to video share and some of them are just so inspiring and so phenomenal when it comes to technique that it really makes you feel that big by the time you leave,” Kent said.
Despite becoming increasingly tech savvy, Kent believes that it’s her former career as a councilor that has lent her a competitive edge. Many of her clients are reluctant to have old wounds opened on camera or are unprepared for the emotional toll collected on trips down memory lane. Documentarians have traditionally maintained a strict division between subject and auteur, a line where emotion begins and ends in front of, not behind, the camera. Kent favors a more hands-on approach.
“Sometimes you can get into tender territory and you have to know by listening very carefully whether to pursue or back off… You can’t just pack up your equipment and say ‘thanks very much, bye now,’ if you left an open wound there. So you need to know what to do there and if necessary how to refer them to get the help that they need,” Kent said.
She recently worked with a reluctant senior, a natural-born storyteller who preferred to limit his gifts to family functions. After his daughter in-laws finally coerced him in front of Kent’s camera, she couldn’t get him to stop talking. The end result was a mini-series worth of personal anecdotes, a five disc recap divided between his childhood, career, and loves.
“He was a natural storyteller but often got very emotional and would get embarrassed by that and so we kind of had to stop and talk about ‘that’s OK. That only means that you feel deeply about something. There’s nothing to be ashamed of,’” Kent said.
She truly values the mission of the APH and the opportunity that it has given her to tell stories and preserve history for generations to come.
“We’re just trying to save stories. We actually say we’re saving lives one story at a time,” Kent said.
The greatest compliment to her craft came when she attended the wake of a former client. Kent arrived to find the video she had made playing in the background and was immediately greeted by one of the man’s sons.
“You’ll never know how much Dad loved that movie you made,” he said. “He would play it and make us watch it over and over.”
Business Through the Ages
Eileen Kent secured her own place in history sooner rather than later. She helped plant the seeds for the Mohawk Valley Business Women’s Network, an organization of women business owners and entrepreneurs that provides support, advice and assistance to one another in the business community.
She was teaching a course dedicated to helping women start their own businesses.
“That core group of women had so much fun in that course they refused to leave and they created a network that went on and met once a month for the last 30 years,” Kent said.
She was a member of the network for 20 years while she had her counseling practice and returned again after she became a videographer.
“It’s a wonderful, wonderful empowering group for women,” Kent said.
“As we proceed towards our 4th anniversary of airing our show, we are extremely proud to feature a female person in our community who, when she lost her job, applied herself in learning video editing and stuff and has become an authority in the field of Personal Historian. There’s no holding back women in today’s economy. Give them an idea and it’s theirs.. Have you thought about the field of Personal Historian. You are going to enjoy the program for this Saturday, May 26, 2012 at 10:30 AM EASTERN.”
Articles Regarding the Video Project Eileen Produced
Stories of Oneida County’s senior citizens makes video premiere
UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) – Riveting stories of fascinating lives were on display Thursday at the Parkway Senior Center in Utica. A video presentation telling the stories of three senior citizens who live in Oneida County put a face to some of the people who live in the region. “Everyone has a Story: Stories of Oneida County Seniors” premiered at the Parkway Senior Center in the City of Utica Thursday morning. The presentation is a collection of stories about local stories and each tale is unique, and certainly not run of the mill. They tell tales of the character of the people who make up the Mohawk Valley. “It’s important because one of the “isms” that still remains in our society is ageism, and we forget what they have to offer,” said Dr. Kathleen Bishop of the Oneida County Office for the Aging.
Picente: Parkway Senior Center Features Inspiring Stories of Local Senior Citizens
Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente, Jr., today announced that an inspiring video featuring the life stories of three Oneida County senior citizens will have its premier on Thursday, May 3rd, at 10 a.m. at the Parkway Senior Center in Utica. The video was developed by the Greater Mohawk Valley Community Elderwellness Council, Inc, a non-profit affiliated with the Oneida County Office for the Aging/Continuing Care.
“The men and women who are Oneida County’s senior citizens have not only lived through some of the most dramatic times in the history of our society and our nation, they have also lived lives rich in the everyday heroism of people who overcome barriers and inspire others with their ability to overcome challenges that would defeat others,” Picente said. “This video tells three stories, but I know there are thousands more to be told. I hope that seniors and their families can attend this event and see this video to develop a new understanding of the richness and perspective our senior citizens bring to our community.”
Picente noted that the public is invited to the premier of the video documentary “Everyone has a story: Telling the stories of Oneida County Seniors for AgeNet” to be presented at the Parkway senior Center, 220 Memorial Parkway, Utica, on May 3rd at 10:00 AM. Picente said that the Parkway Senior Center requests that those planning to attend RSVP to Philomena Amodio 315-768-3603 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The video will focus on the life-stories of three (3) older individuals: a female World War II Pilot living in the Lutheran Home; an older adult with intellectual disabilities from the ARC of Oneida/Lewis Chapter: and a member of the Parkway Senior Center each with a fascinating life story to share.
The Creative Aging and Arts Committee in collaboration with the Oneida County Office for the Aging/Continuing Care’s Aging and Special Population Committee produced the video through the generous funding of The Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties. It is the first video specifically produced for the AgeNet Digital Health and Wellness Resource Library, shared currently by six sites in Oneida and Madison Counties. AgeNet has been made possible through the technology provided by VIZIONefx who created the digital platform used by the Community Elderwellness Council and participating senior center locations.