On Sunday, August 22nd, 2021, Pat and Donna Surface performed for the residents of Carefree Living in Ely, sponsored by the Spiritwood Foundation.
Residents gathered outside to enjoy live music, something that they were unable to have in their community for over a year.
Pat and Donna are committed to penetrating the barriers that engulf the aged with vibrant musical performances. Along with performing their multi-media shows in theaters, they have performed at nursing homes, assisted living communities, memory care facilities, and Veterans Homes for many years.
In March of 2020 that all stopped.
While Pat and Donna were shut down (and shut in) for over a year, they focused on a way to deliver live performances to seniors without having to be there in person. They call it the Senior Living Network. (More here)
There are thousands of senior living communities, nursing homes, memory care facilities, and Veterans Homes around the country - with more than a million residents residing there.
Although the challenges of the pandemic initiated the pursuit of this initiative, the Senior Living Network is a solution not just for these unprecedented times, but the future. The fact is, even without a pandemic, seniors living in housing facilities sit and wait for diversion. For senior community residents, activities and family visits are important ways for them to feel socially connected. Visitors and entertainment link them to the outside world. Even in the best of times, senior living communities can feel isolated.
This makes music programming more important.
When senior communities and facilities locked down in 2020, all services and programs were suspended. These restrictions created a sad, isolated, and lonely environment, with lasting ramifications. Social isolation and loneliness are major risk factors that have been linked to poor physical and mental health. The Senior Living Network will provide interactive programming that seniors can participate in and enjoy.
Pat and Donna, along with other performing artists, will be recording hundreds of live, multi-media performances to build weekly shows for seniors - everything from musical variety and gospel shows to peaceful, calming Boundary Waters Wilderness shows and interactive seated exercise and dance shows. Every week communities will receive fresh new shows, but the library of shows will always be available to view on demand. Over time this library will grow - The Senior Living Network will be like Netflix for seniors - a subscription entertainment service - providing a variety of pre-recorded, live performances designed to engage, entertain, and spark memories. There will be unlimited access to a variety of programs designed specifically for seniors.
In order to accomplish this, Pat and Donna had to build a studio with a giant green screen to make 'movie magic'. Through generous donations to the Foundation for this project, a studio now exists. The Spiritwood Foundation is continuing to accept donations to continue operations until subscription sales start coming in. (Donate here) With those funds, the Spiritwood Foundation can continue to do its work in our community, and beyond. This work includes:
Minnesota Veterans Homes: They fund musical performances, trips to the lake, and other activities. They also fixed the broken hoist at Veterans On The Lake so wheelchair Vets can get on the fishing boats.
Northwoods Partners of Ely: They have been ongoing contributors to their Caregiver and Memory Care Programs for years.
The Rocco Michael Passaretti Grant Program: They award grants to non-profits working with Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia.
Minnesota Memory Care Tours: They sponsor free concerts at assisted–living facilities, nursing homes, Veterans Homes and senior residences in MN.
Caregiver Assistance Programs: They gift money to non-profit organizations that supply home-care assistance to caregivers struggling to keep afflicted loved-ones in their homes.
Community Alzheimer’s Needs: They gift money to non-profit assisted living facilities and nursing homes for upgrades to their properties, such as gazebos for the residents.
They also sponsor benefit concerts, silent auctions, and other fund-raising events for families in financial need that are dealing with Alzheimer’s Disease.
Donna Surface is the director of The Spiritwood Foundation. The Foundation was created in 2004 by Pat and Donna when Donna lost her dad, Rocco Michael Passaretti, to Alzheimer's Disease. Their mission is to elevate the quality of life for seniors.