ASHLAND — A woman who is accustomed to providing joy to others was on the receiving end of that emotion during Richland Source’s Reporting Reimagined Volume 2 event last weekend.
Terry McQuillen, director of life enrichment and volunteer coordinator at The Good Shepherd in Ashland, won a Solutions Seeker award during the June 25 event.
The unique event brought together more than 150 people at Richland Source’s Idea Works facility in Mansfield to link art with solutions journalism.
Artists from the region were asked to select at least one solutions journalism article from Richland Source, Ashland Source and Knox Pages to serve as the inspiration for their piece.
The pieces were then showcased at the Reporting Reimagined event on June 25 in a gallery fashion. Guests were invited to learn about the pieces, the stories behind them and to interact with the 21 artists. The art was also available for purchase.
McQuillen was the recipient of the Solutions Seeker award representing Ashland County for her role in establishing the “As You Wish” program at LSS The Good Shepherd.
The program, around since 2013, gives elderly residents the opportunity to experience something they have always wanted to do, or allow them another chance to do something they have long loved.
“There’s nothing too big or small that you can accomplish with one of these residents,” McQuillen said of the “As You Wish” program.
McQuillen said she can remember all 32 wishes she has had a hand in fulfilling. One of them involved a 104-year-old woman who’s wish was to eat once again at Wendy’s on Claremont Avenue.
“She got a sandwich, fries and a Frosty,” McQuillen said. “They had the table set for her … That wish cost nothing. It doesn’t cost anything but time.”
Another wish involved taking a man and some of his friends to a Cleveland Browns opening day game. One wish involved getting a 98-year-old woman to join the Ashland Memorial Day parade.
Often the wishes are some of the last residents make.
One of the wishes involved an elderly couple’s wish to go out to a special place for dinner together. Three months after the dinner, the husband died, she said. The woman also eventually died.
“My time with this program is the best time I spend here — making a wish come true,” McQuillen said.
McQuillen said she hopes other nursing homes and facilities adopt the idea.
That’s the thrust of the event, which was funded in part by the Solutions Journalism Network — to showcase journalism that reports on solutions to issues and problems facing the community.
Solutions journalism, according to SJN, “investigates and explains, in a critical and clear-eyed way, how people try to solve widely-shared problems.”
“While journalists usually define news as ‘what’s gone wrong,’ solutions journalism tries to expand that definition: Responses to problems are also newsworthy. By adding rigorous coverage of solutions, journalists can tell the whole story,” reads SJN’s website.
Reporting Reimagined is a way for the responses, and the responders, to be showcased, said Jay Allred, publisher of Source Media Properties, the parent company of Ashland Source.
He said the news over the last couple years has felt ferocious and “crippling.”
“It’s left many of our neighbors feeling helpless and without any control over our lives, our health, or even our own bodies,” he said. “It gets worse when the stories we see reflect back to us only the problems, but never the interesting, novel — and often effective — responses.
“That’s why we’re here … to celebrate the responses and the responders that have made things better.”
McQuillen felt honored to be one of three Solutions Seeker winners.
“I’ve never thought about getting recognized for this,” she said. “It’s always just been something simple we do.
“I just hope that other nursing homes can start a program like this. It’s just a simple thing that you can do to make someone happy.”