‘Always Here, Side by Side’ in the Java Music Club

It’s a typical Thursday morning in early September at the Village of Glendale Crossing in London. Main Street is buzzing with activity as team members and residents hum back and forth. Conversations and laughter float in and out, while a small clothing sale is set up in the library attracting passersby.

In the Lambeth neighbourhood upstairs, the familiar jingle of the Java Music Club theme slips beyond the doors of the country kitchen. Inside a group of ladies surround a long table, singing songs and chatting intermittently on the subject of ‘expectations’.

Team member Erin Seldon has facilitated the Java Music Club since it was first introduced to the village more than five years ago, and she leads the discussion today. Many of the residents around the table have been regulars nearly just as long, happy to come together in the spirit of mutual support that defines the program.

And it is a support program, at its core. The scripted questions cover a range of topics and encourage residents to share memories from their past and feelings they may have about where they are today. There is no judgment, only shared understanding, and between bouts of conversation, familiar songs tap into the heart of each group member.

“We’re always here, side by side . . . and we love you just the way you are,” come the lyrics from a song, and it seems appropriate.

Cathy Quick is here this morning with her mother, Kay Capitano. Kay lies flat in a mobile chaise, present beyond words, connected through the smile that crosses her faces at times as the others sing.

Kathy tries to be there for every Java session she can, for she understands the value in connecting her mother to other people in an interactive program. Kay may sleep during part of the sessions, but “sometimes she comes out with some things and we all laugh,” Cathy says. “It’s good for her and it’s good for everybody.”

Music, Cathy points out, resonates with her mother, and even if she seems disconnected her toes will start tapping when a song can be heard for inspiration. Around the table on this morning, Kay may not sing or offer verbal answers to the questions, but she is an integral part of the group, and her fellow residents see her in that light. The expectation is that she, like everyone gathered in the country kitchen this morning, will be exactly who they are in that very moment; that respect for each individual is one of the Java Music Club’s great pillars of understanding, and it’s why the program impacts lives in positive ways throughout every Schlegel Village.