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Doris Lederman participates in a Reel People video at Golden West in Boulder. (Courtesy photo)
Doris Lederman participates in a Reel People video at Golden West in Boulder. (Courtesy photo)

Over the last six months, the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed people to find new, creative ways to connect and stay entertained. At Golden West, a senior living facility in Boulder, the residents have been keeping track of each other through a new program called Reel People.

Golden West has housed seniors since 1965 and has options for assisted living as well as independent living. Jill Moore, the director of resident programs at Golden West, worked with their promotional group, Pivot, to set up the Reel People program.

Reel People consists of short video interviews posted to the Golden West website. Moore will sit down with someone over Zoom and ask them where they’re from, how they came to Golden West, and what they’ve been up to over the past few months.

They’ve covered residents and new staff members, and even featured the kitchen staff with a chicken pot pie cooking demo.

“Our department, the main goal for us was to interact with people. And because we couldn’t, we had to be creative and come up with different ways that we could interact with residents. Something that would be fun but also hopefully connect them with other residents somehow,” Moore said.

Moore chooses people to interview based on what she knows about them, and if there’s a new person on staff, they’ll make an appearance on the show. The purpose for Reel People is to help people keep a positive outlook during the pandemic, and they do that by elevating the already-upbeat voices in the community.

“I tend to pick people (to interview) who are on the positive side, that are generally upbeat, that maybe got involved in a lot of stuff,” she said.

Doris Lederman was one of the first people to be interviewed. Originally from New York City, she’s been at Golden West for 2 1/2 years.

Lederman said, “I was a little nervous at first, but it gave me a chance to help people see me, and find out more about me. Everybody has a group of friends, but this was to a wider audience. I got some wonderful positive feedback afterward.”

Reel People is just one of the ways that Golden West has been keeping its residents engaged. According to Moore, they’ve been putting their in-house TV channel to good use. They can broadcast recorded segments or a live feed. They’ve broadcast fitness classes, Pictionary and birthday shoutouts. They even have exercise classes, which is Lederman’s favorite use of the channel.

Moore said the channel reaches even more people than the in-person equivalents did, since there are some residents who have limited mobility.

“It’s really been kind of a small blessing in a lot of ways. In fact, when we get done with all this, we’ll probably have to continue it, because it’s going out to everybody, and they’re really liking it,” Moore said.

Residents liked Reel People so much that the staff is doing another interview series as a spinoff on the in-house channel. This will be twice a month and feature more residents being interviewed.

Residents have been watching a lot more TV in general, not just on the in-house channel, said Lederman. “Of course, I’m grateful for Netflix and Amazon. I never really realized, I scoffed at it and said, ‘Oh, phooey, who needs that? Too much TV!’ But in times like this it’s really valuable,” she said.

Golden West and its residents are trying their best to keep a positive outlook and continue to check in with their community.

During her Reel People interview, Lederman gave advice to people stuck inside in the form of a Rolling Stones quote: “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.”

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