Katie Mann
December 18, 2013

img_1152It is interesting to witness what happens when giving gets set in motion. When one gives, who receives? 4th Wall’s idea was to brighten up the day of some residents at a nearby Sunrise Assisted Living facility. The instructors worked for weeks with the students of the Down Syndrome Guild on learning Christmas carols; complete with motions, jingle bells, and reindeer hats.

So did the residents receive their gift?

The residents did enjoy themselves and sang along, but I believe the students are the ones who really benefited: they loved performing in front of other people than family and friends. To perform in front of an audience is the true manifestation of theatre. You should have seen how their faces lit up as they jingled their bells and “ho ho ho”-ed to smiles and applause.

So the students received the giving?!

Not quite.

img_1155Afterwards, the parents thanked me saying, “I think I benefited more than the kids did.” To see your child performing his/her heart out, when doctors told you they would never live “a normal life,” to consider the road they have traveled –like all parents– to usher their offspring into adulthood. This experience brought light on how far they have all come and nothing warms a parent’s heart faster.

So the parents received the giving?

Not quite.

Two years ago this April, I sat with my mom in a different Sunrise Assisted Living as she ushered her mother out of this world. 4th Wall was not formed, and even if it was, my Grandma was not processing new ideas. But I saw how Grandma Z’s face lit up every time a dog, a clown, or a singer performed at Sunrise. And now here I was helping to cheer up some other residents’ days. Through my company I co-founded.

So I received the giving?

Not quite.

screen-shot-2013-12-18-at-10-02-12-amUpon living in this true full circle moment the tears could not be stopped. The memories of Grandma Z remain strong in my heart, at the performance I felt an overwhelming sense of pride, sadness, and happiness. Thankfully, the parents of my students rallied around me offering tissues (thanks Terri), encouragement, and hugs. And that’s when it really hit me: No one person benefits from giving. It is given, received, and gifted back again. With the right intentions and lots of joy, everyone in the circle is impacted. The residents. The staff. The instructors. The students. The parents. Me. What a wonderful (albeit soggy) evening in this season of Christmas to remember the power and influence of giving.

screen-shot-2013-12-18-at-10-09-20-amWatch the video of the students performing here.