Friends Fellowship Community (FFC) is an expansive but tight-knit group in Richmond, IN with varying levels of care available to residents. FFC began offering OMA at their location in September 2015 and their program has continued to grow and flourish over the past few years. Melissa Baxter, FFC’s Director of Life Enhancement and OMA Coordinator, has worked tirelessly with her team to recruit volunteers and to ensure the continuity of the OMA program is maintained. FFC has fostered partnerships with several local schools, including Earlham College, Earlham School of Religion, Indiana University East, Ivy Tech Community College, and National Trail High School.
Like many other OMA sites, Friends Fellowship has done a phenomenal job of implementing OMA. What sets them apart from other sites is their lofty goal for the future. FFC is currently reaching for new heights; they hope to open spots in their program for individuals in the broader Richmond community. Ultimately, they would like to further develop their leadership team and volunteer base in order to establish OMA at satellite locations at other local sites.
“I’m old, but when I’m with you [volunteer], I’m young!”OMA Artist
We interviewed Melissa Baxter (Facilitator Class of ’15) about her experience as an OMA Facilitator:
Which art project has been the most successful at your site?
“It is difficult to determine THE most successful art project! Some of our best are those that have absolute fail-free coverage of color and textures. We have experienced a high degree of success overall with Inkblot, Tie Dyed Rice Paper, and Chihuly’s Macchia Bowls.”
Since you began implementing OMA, what are the most important lessons that you have learned? What advice would you give to new OMA facilitators?
“One of the most important lessons I’ve learned while implementing OMA is patience. I don’t mean that lightly. I mean true bona fide hold-your-ground patience. Never let up. Volunteers take a while to recruit. The general public is not yet educated much at all in terms of dementia and what people with dementia CAN DO. The next most important lesson: MAINTAIN THE PROCESS OF OMA. Use the manual and be true to the process of the program. Sure, it takes patience and persistence, but the payoff is immeasurable.
Jeff Baxter, President of FFC, echoes Melissa’s advice:
“One piece of advice I would share with anyone considering adopting OMA is to commit to, and insist upon, following the process as designed and taught in every detail. Otherwise, the program will become diluted, leading to a compromise of quality and integrity. Discipline to the values and principles of the program will pay off in ways unforeseen.”
“Watching my partner’s confidence and opinion of her art brought tears to my eyes. She has given me a new perspective on life. Working with her was an incredible gift.”FFC Volunteer
Does your site have any exciting future plans for OMA?
We are anxiously awaiting grant news from our community foundation –Wayne County Foundation. We are striving to grow our school partnerships and open several spots in our OMA sessions to non-Friends Fellowship Community residents. This will mean a greater community impact on education and service.
“It’s like I have my mom back! This is amazing; she hasn’t been this alive in a long time.”Daughter of OMA Artist
Congratulations to Friends Fellowship Community for their passion and persistence in building bridges through age and cognitive barriers through art!
Friends Fellowship Community has graciously offered to host campus visits for any prospective OMA facilitators. Contact Melissa Baxter for more information.
(765) 962-6540 ext. 488 firstname.lastname@example.org