TILL Living Legacy participant, Sally

TILL Living Legacy Project

Toward Independent Living and Learning's mission is to create community-based residential, vocational and support services to help people reach their full potential and attain an optimal quality of life. 

In 2013, I worked with TILL Founder and President Dafna Krouk-Gordon to develop the Living Legacy Project, an oral history-based project to document, preserve and share the life histories of individuals with developmental disabilities living in community-based residences managed by TILL.

TILL's Living Legacy Project was developed as a response to both the challenges faced in creating enriching training opportunities for Human Service Professionals and to family concerns about retaining the histories and knowledge of their loved ones.

In the pilot phase, I worked with four families to document their stories through oral history interviews and photos from personal archives. From these sources, I produced a 50-minute video and focused discussion guide, challenging Human Service Professionals to view the world from a different historical perspective through the stories and experiences of the families and residents they serve.

This training was provided to staff throughout TILL, and was also presented to students in the Massachusetts Urban Youth Collaborative Program, as well as Department of Developmental Services executives, service providers and family members.

Toward lndependent Living and Learning received the 2015 Providers' Council lnnovator of the Year Award for TILL's Living Legacy Project, at the Massachusetts Council of Human Service Providers' 40th Annual Convention on October 19, 2015. (A short/sweet video produced by the Providers' Council for the Awards Ceremony can be viewed here.)

As a direct response to the impact this project had on TILL staff members, individuals and families, I have worked with Dafna to embark on a new phase, designed to provide residential teams with tools and training to teach the value of preserving their families' and residents' stories and inspiring them to create their own program's Living Legacy. In July 2015, I trained two TILL staff to conduct oral history interviews with the families they work with; in 2016, I will edit interview materials into a short film to be shared with the families, current staff, and with new staff when they join the team working with these individuals and families. Stay tuned for more updates on this "DIY" phase in 2016.