Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Let Front Porch Help You ... Create Your Own Path

Happy New Year! With 2014 upon us, now is the perfect time to plan for the future. At Front Porch we can help. “Creating Your Path” is a step-by-step tool to help you identify the obstacles that might stand in the way of you living the most fulfilling life possible, and to help you move from where you are today, to where you want to be tomorrow. May 2014 be a productive year – a year during which you Create Your Own Path. Start Here

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Share Your Passion! -- These Folks Did ...

At Front Porch we believe in passion, we love passion and encourage everyone to express their passion. It’s a great, healthy way to live. As Front Porch’s director of communications it was my pleasure to organize the very first Front Porch Share Your Passion! Contest this year through my department. In doing so, Front Porch residents, employees, board members and donors were asked to submit a two-minute video or a two-page essay expressing their passion or someone else’s passion that inspired them.

Earlier this year we featured the Share Your Passion! Contest winners on the Front Porch web site. The contest proved so popular that others at Front Porch submitted Share Your Passion! videos after the contest was over. Here are just a few ...

A Passion for Art -- by Julie Weaverling

A Passion for Genieology -- by Tony Teems

Be sure to check back to this blog from time to time for more videos.

— Mike Martinez

Monday, November 11, 2013

Let's Honor Our Heroes This Veterans Day

In memory of our Veterans, a unique celebration took place at Villa Gardens Retirement Community in Pasadena. Renowned photographer Tom Sanders unveiled stunning portraits of the more than 40 World War II and Korean War veterans currently living at Villa Gardens.

Prior to the unveiling, veterans were recognized for their service and sacrifice in a special ceremony attended by friends and family. 

Please take a look at the Front Porch Facebook page, www.facebook.com/frontporchcommunities for photos or the Front Porch web site videos page for a Salute to Our Veterans.

Today, all of us at Front Porch salute veterans who live and work at our communities as well as those serving or those who have served around the world.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Front Porch Employees Enjoy Volunteering at San Diego Senior Olympic Games

This summer, Front Porch began a two-year Silver Sponsorship of the San Diego Senior Olympic Games. Also known as the San Diego Senior Games, activities are Olympic-style events such as archery, badminton, bowling, volleyball, track and field, basketball, and tennis as well as non-traditional events like pickle ball, wheelchair dancing and more than 30 others.

The San Diego Senior Games Association is a community-based organization whose mission is to: "Encourage senior adults, aged 50 or older, to carry on vigorous lives by developing and maintaining high levels of physical activity and mental fitness through regular participation in sports, fitness, and health education activities."

As part of Front Porch’s sponsorship, many employees had the opportunity to volunteer at various events. Overwhelmingly, those who volunteered had a rewarding and inspiring experience.

Here is just a small sample of their experiences. http://www.frontporch.net/publications-and-resources/videos

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

See the Person ... Not the Age

At a recent team meeting of the Organizational Advancement Group at Front Porch, our meeting leader posed a question that seemed perfect for the end of summer:  How does our summer vacation time with family and friends relate to the work that we do at Front Porch?  

There were some very interesting and thought-provoking answers.  Ross had been salmon fishing with his family on the mighty Columbia River in Oregon and spoke about patience and perseverance in all we do.  Nancy attended her daughter’s dream wedding at an old friend’s farm and was amazed at how many hands and hearts together made the planning and the event itself special and shared.  Keith reflected about watching his sons grow and conquer new skills year after year (like surfing) and how significant changes happen over time that we might not notice day to day.  Rob spoke about his family trip to Bruges and how exploring new vistas, and being open to the unexpected can create great experiences and lasting memories.


When my husband and I traveled to Scotland to research his family roots a few years ago I was immediately drawn to an advertising billboard campaign titled, ‘see the person … not the age.’

It was compelling on many levels.  First, I learned that the anti-ageism awareness campaign is funded by the Scottish government (‘to embrace the changing population’ and to help ‘foster a greater understanding of the contributions of older people to society’).  The message itself is far-reaching and dramatically clear and simple.  An almost blindingly bright white wrinkly billboard that draws your attention poses this question in small black lettering on the corner of the billboard, “Notice how being wrinkly makes you more interesting?”  Another white wrinkly billboard reads:  “Why don’t you notice people with wrinkles too?”  And then this one after the campaign begins to garner great notice, “This is proof you can have wrinkles and still do a good job.”  Each billboard has the website identification: seethepersonnottheage.com

In reading the evaluation of the campaign (including ‘before and after’ surveys) it seems that the campaign attracted a lot of media attention in the country and consciousness was indeed raised.

Here at home I am always surprised and saddened when I hear and see ageism.  It is pervasive and saps the spirit of everyone in the community.  I groan at the tired ‘old’ jokes in the media.  Like most of us at Front Porch I see the beauty and uniqueness of individuals of advanced age.  They are champions of life to me. Most have extraordinary stories to tell.  Many are bold and fearless in their later years and have much to teach the rest of us who impatiently dismiss the extraordinary possibilities of later life. 

I love the Scottish campaign and its simple and clear message.  It is a great challenge to all of us to ‘See the Person … Not the Age.’ 

-- Lee Ratta

Monday, June 24, 2013

My Passion for Movies

I love entering the dusky movie theater and finding my seat in the center, where I can look straight ahead and
see the full width of the screen.  (I take my movie going seriously.)  I prepare for the engrossing movie experience by silencing my cell phone, putting my purse to my side and nestling into my cozy seat.  As the lights lower all the way down, a hush comes over the audience and the movie begins. Soon I no longer see the people around me but just the light from the screen.  The 30-foot screen teleports me to another world.

We probably agree that some movies need the big screen, surround sound experience that a home theater cannot provide (or at least not with my budget).  For example, with the James Bond movie Skyfall, feeling the intensity of the blasts and action especially during the opening extended, chase scene across the roof tops of Istanbul.  And In The Impossible, a movie based on a true story, seeing the tsunami wave as a larger than life vision, as it probably looked to the people who experienced it first hand, and hearing only the noises of the raging water and Naomi Watt’s character’s screams of pain and calls out to her children as she is repeatedly pulled under water and beaten with debris. 

A darkened theater and large, well projected movie also allows for the true intention of lighting and cinematography to be seen.  In the opening of Lincoln, the darkness, dreariness of the time in the expansive Civil War are captured as the camera slowly pans to reveal Lincoln’s softly lit, concerned and attentive face.

But even for the less visually stimulating movies, I prefer the removal of my own distractions.  In a fast paced world encouraging multi-tasking and not taking a moment for oneself, I find watching a movie in the theatre an enjoyable focuser.  At home, I may pay bills, eat dinner or share commentary while watching a movie. For subtitled movies such as The Intouchables, a French film based on a true story, that does not bode well.  Without my undivided attention, I could have missed some of the comical exchanges between the two main characters as the inexperienced caretaker reminds the quadriplegic employer of the simple joys of life that he can still experience or the caretaker’s nonchalant look as he naturally tried to hand the phone to his employer, not seeing him as a quadriplegic but as a friend.   

A movie theatre also provides the unique electrifying energy from a full, appreciative audience.  It is a testament of a quality, captivating, smart film that it can take an audience, of a few hundred at a time, on the same emotional ride.  As in Argo, a movie based on the true story of a 1980 CIA operative, even though we all knew that the Americans safely escape Iran, when they attempt to go through security to board the plane, the audience was silent and captivated.  I could feel the anxiety and concern of the whole audience, all holding our breath and tensing up and the simultaneous sighs of relief as the plane took-off.  I assume that in some theatres they even unanimously cheered during that scene.

I enjoy how movies are not purely a form of entertainment; they can be a vehicle to educate and/or force attention (give full focus) on hard to watch subject matters.  In a theatre, I cannot escape the movie (another reason for my center seat preference) nor press pause or stop to take a mental or physical break.  Zero Dark Thirty, a 157 minutes long movie based on the true story of the capturing and killing of Osama Bin Laden, was hard to watch at times, actually I covered my eyes for some scenes as I frequently do for violent scenes, but I could not escape the details of the arduous 10-year search, tactics used to gain information and the first person perspective reenactment of the events that took place that fateful night as they unfolded for this real life manhunt.  And in The Invisible War, a documentary on the sexual assault of soldiers within the U.S. military, I could not physically turn away from hearing the first-hand accounts from survivors.  These may be hard to watch and listen to but I feel I left the theater with new information, food for thought and other perspectives.  As a self-described continual learner, I appreciate the combination of education with entertainment, as evidenced by over half of my top ten movies for 2012 being based on true stories.  (See below.)

I love the movie going experience, the look, sound, feel, content, focusing, entertainment and I can’t wait to see the next worthwhile movie.  At Front Porch we love to share our passions. I am Michele Pomerance, the communications coordinator at Front Porch, where we celebrate the spirit of the individual and encourage people to live life their way. See you at the movies!

My Top 10 Movies from 2012, in alphabetical order

Hunger Games
The Impossible
The Intouchables
The Invisible War
Perks of Being a Wallflower
Zero Dark Thirty

I would love to hear your comments on what you like about your movie going experience and some of your favorite movies.  Thank you for sharing.

Friday, May 10, 2013

For Mom and a Happy Mother's Day to All!

Family is so important to what we do at Front Porch. Not only do we see ourselves (staff, residents, donors, volunteers … ) as a part of one large Front Porch family, but we also recognize our relationships with each other which takes us beyond the walls of our communities and offices and ties us to the much broader  community. It is our honor as staff members to build relationships with those we serve and to foster the connections that bring the larger community into ours. We celebrate our connectedness, our community and our shared experiences.

We are here to meet the needs of many.  At this time of year we pay tribute to our mothers and grandmothers. Who we are, and how we go about meeting needs, really is born out of our relationship with our family. So, with Mother’s Day around the corner, I thought I would take this opportunity to provide a little “snapshot” of my mother in the hopes that it would not only honor my mother but would serve as a way of tying my connection with her to a tribute to all the caregivers who work and serve at Front Porch. I realize nearly all who read this will have never met my mom, but I'd like to provide this snapshot of my mom as an example of my connection with her as I think we all carry with us a picture deep and profound that sums up the love we have for our moms. This one just happens to be mine.

My mother's roots lie in the cold and rugged Great Plains of North Dakota; her parents having originally settled there from Bavaria and Poland at the turn of the 19th century. Her Catholic faith, along with a strong work ethic (both of which she still possesses in huge amounts), are absolutely vital to her life as it is to most born into the life of farming during the time of the Great Depression. She and my father moved to California in the early 1950s with the promise of an easier, warmer life. Warmer, definitely – easier, I don’t know about that given the amount of work it takes being a mom to the Kloses.

My mom is, more than anything else, a care giver  like so many of the great people who work at Front Porch. Raising nine kids (my twin and I are the youngest), her hours were long. Her unofficial titles: RN (nine kids brings along a lot of illnesses, some of them pretty severe), educator, cook (she also cooked for the priests at our Church) and CEO of a bustling house. Her leadership principle = firmness. But there is no denying despite that firmness, there is underneath, a very compassionate ear (one that still listens to the troubles and worries of her children into their 40s and 50s).

Travel has never been a big part of her life. The extent of her travels (up until a few years ago) pretty much covered the states of North Dakota, Minnesota and California. Down deep in my mother, the one personality trait that seems to come forth from her (and make itself evident to all that know her) is this sense that she feels almost unworthy of great joys, of great journeys, of great sites.  She’s almost embarrassed to be confronted with them.
With all that said (the background of who my mother is), I’d like to share with you the image of my mother that brings me the most happiness and that sums up for me, “my mom.”
A few years ago, my wife and I decided (along with some help from my brothers and sisters) that it was high time that my mother see a place or two before it becomes too difficult for her to travel. So, on a plane (with my dad, my wife and son) we put her and off we went to Kauai. While there, we toured beaches and trails, ate lots of fresh fish along with plenty of shaved ice, visited the Waimea Canyon and the Na Pali Cliffs, spent time in sunny Poipu and watched the majestic sunset over Bali Hai. The entire time we visited the Island of Kauai my mother’s smile seemed almost immovable. It was more than apparent the joy and happiness that she was experiencing. It was not something that even she could contain.
But it was a trip to a small church (one very Hawaiian in its rural simplicity and beauty – if you’ve ever visited St. Raphael’s in Koloa Town, you’ll know what I’m talking about) that creates for me the image that I treasure the most. My wife and I had spoken to the priest at the church in Koloa before ever leaving California to let him know that we were celebrating my mother and father’s 56th wedding anniversary with a trip to Kauai and we simply wanted to find out the mass schedule beforehand as my mother had impressed upon me (quite adamantly, I might add) that she did not want to miss Sunday service while on the trip.

Little did I know that the priest would make mention of their 56 years of marriage at the end of his sermon, that he would call them up to the altar for a special blessing and that the entire congregation would give them a wonderful applause afterwards. The look on my mother’s face summed up everything about her. She was crying and had a smile on her face which (in typical fashion) she tried to cover up by placing her hands over her face as if to say, “This is too much for me, I don’t deserve this much happiness.”
Yes mom, you do.
— Rob Klose

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Share Your Passion! Contest Winners. Check Them Out

Passion! It lies in all of us. Yes, the importance of PASSION has been expressed by many in different ways. Here are just a few …
“Find your passion, whatever it may be. Become it, and let it become you and you will find great things happen FOR you, TO you and BECAUSE of you.” – T. Alan Armstrong,
Author and Writer

“Passion and purpose go hand in hand. When you discover your purpose, you will normally find it’s something you’re tremendously passionate about.” – Steve Pavlina, Blogger and Author

“Never underestimate the power of passion.” – Eve Sawyer,
Author and Writer

“Only passions, great passions, can elevate the soul to great things.” – Denis Diderot, French Philosopher

“One person with passion is better than forty people merely interested.” – E. M. Forster,
English Novelist

At Front Porch we believe in passion, we love passion and encourage everyone to express their passion. It’s a great, healthy way to live. As Front Porch’s director of communications it was my pleasure to organize the very first Front Porch Share Your Passion! Contest this year through my department. In doing so, Front Porch residents, employees, board members and donors were asked to submit a two-minute video or a two-page essay expressing their passion or someone else’s passion that inspired them.

Knowing our residents, employees, et al as I do, I was not surprised that the number of submissions numbered in the dozens. Wow, what passionate group! Music, art, sports, poetry, crafts, gardening … I could go on and on about the variety of submissions. But the best part about all of them were the enthusiasm expressed in the videos and essays.

Was it difficult to pick just eight winners from among all of the submissions? You bet it was. My Communications Team colleagues and I toiled over all the submission for hours. We discussed each one, compared notes and PASSIONATELY debated why we thought our picks were the best. It was tough but we finally agreed on the best eight.

We now invite you to take a look at those winners by visiting frontporch.net/videos to see the videos and frontporch.net/pressroom to read the essays. You can also link to the videos and essays via the Front Porch Facebook page at facebook.com/frontporchcommunities. And while only the winning videos and essays are currently posted, over the next few months, we will post ALL submissions for your enjoyment, so please check back often.

Once again, thanks to all who participated. And by the way, if you have a passion you would like to share, tell us about it here on the Kaleidoscope blog page.

— Mike Martinez

Friday, March 15, 2013

A Passion for Almost Anything

As my colleague Robe Klose wrote in his Front Porch Kaleidoscope blog in November 2012 … “Living life your way, embracing new passions and being adventurous of mind, is not only the Front Porch ‘way’ but new research suggests it may also lead to a longer life.”
I could not agree more. In fact, because Front Porch believes so much in helping not only our residents but also staff explore their passions its Communications Department, of which I am a member, decided to sponsor a contest called “Share Your Passion!”
Late last year, we asked all residents and employees to submit a two-minute video or two-page essay expressing what they love most – what they are passionate about. And we got some great entries. Everything from cooking, art, baseball, trivia, their spouses, pets … I could go on and on. You name it and people wrote and spoke about those things that they are passionate about.
In the next few weeks, please check back to this blog and I will be announcing the winners of the contest and provide “links” to all of the great winning videos and essays. Throughout the rest of the year you can also see all of the entries on the Front Porch Facebook and YouTube pages. So stay tuned.
And by the way, if you have a passion you would like to share, tell us about it here on the Kaleidoscope blog page.
-- Mike Martinez

Friday, January 25, 2013

Improvisational Life Skills; Trusting Yourself and Others in Work and Play

I took my first improvisational comedy class in 2005.  It was offered through a community theatre program and geared toward “executives and aspiring actors.”  I was the former, having just assumed the role of foundation executive to the FACT and Pacific Homes foundations, both Front Porch partners. 

Everyone else in the class was the latter … and much, much younger than I was. While I was taking the course to hone my “off the cuff” speaking skills, I immediately discovered I felt a very keen desire to make my classmates laugh and a very visceral fear that they would.  Everyone likes to get a laugh, but who wants to be the butt of the joke?  How could a middle-aged professional fundraiser relate to a bunch of young, budding actors?  Flash forward seven years: I’m a player in an improv comedy troupe that performs half a dozen times per year in Southern California -- Los Angeles, the Inland Empire, High Desert and Orange County.  It’s been a heck of a journey and I couldn’t have made the trip without learning to trust deeply.

Trust is about give and take. In most things in life, taking is the easy part.  It usually requires more trust to give.  Improv is the exception to that rule.  Because nothing is scripted you never know what the audience or your fellow player(s) are going to give you.  We oftentimes start a scene with just the suggestion of a location from the audience.  Someone shouts “sushi bar” and you and your fellow player have a decision to make: do you starting miming the actions of fish-chopping sushi chef, a fish-chomping diner, a fish fearing for its life, or…?  Let’s presume that your partner chooses to play a diner, pulls up a chair (the only prop ever on the stage) and sits down.  He looks at you and says “I’m glad you agreed to meet me here, Mr. Kirisawa.  We need to talk about your new movie.” 

You must trust yourself and honor your fellow player’s  idea.  You cannot say “you must have mistaken me for someone else.  My name is Bill Houston.”  It doesn’t matter that you had a funny scene in mind where a Texas beef rancher tries sushi for the first time.  Denial is a no-no in improv.  Improv scenes move forward when you respond “yes, and…”  The “and” is as important as the “yes” as it obligates you to add information to the scene and participate fully.  The result is cooperation and trust and things play out organically and, hopefully, hilariously.

Life is a lot like an improve scene.  You can plan diligently, but you have to trust yourself and those around you when things inevitably happen that weren’t part of the plan.  When you say “yes, and” you meet challenges with flexibility and optimism.  Uncertainty can be scary.  I find that being able to trust myself as well as family, friends, co-workers and others promotes full participation in the scene that is life when the outcome is unknown.  That’s comforting.  Heck, sometimes I even get a laugh out of it.

— Keith Church