“Happiness Is a Serious Business”
If Janet Kurland has learned anything in life, it’s that “A sense of gratitude is necessary in order to feel happy.”And she was brimming with gratitude when she found herself on the Springwell veranda on a warm summer night singing with 15 other residents accompanied by a ukulele.“There is something special here. You can feel it,” Janet says. After a career in elder care management in Baltimore, she was well aware of the Springwell community, and she knew it was the place for her long before she moved in.“For me, [Springwell] is absolutely the right place.”Janet knows a thing or two about elder care. In fact, she spent 44 years working as a social worker in the field of gerontology. “It was a lot of work, but a learning process.”Perhaps her proudest achievement started in 1976 when she was tapped to create a senior center in Baltimore. Janet and her partner secured from the mayor $400/month for rent, rounded up some used furniture and bought “day-old chocolate donuts for anyone who came.” The neighborhood men came first and played pinochle all day, much to their wives’ delight. Then the women came. And it grew and grew, eventually becoming the Meyerberg Senior Center. “You have to start and keep pedaling. But I feel good every day that I helped create that.” Throughout her career, Janet placed children in foster homes, settled immigrants, developed senior-support programs for large corporations, served as the President of Baltimore Gerontological Association, represented Maryland at the White House, and taught gerontology classes at Johns Hopkins University for 20 years.“I loved it. It was good for me.” Of her many awards, the Maryland Gerontological Association Lifetime Achievement Award is the most prized. These days, Janet spends time making friends at Springwell. “I enjoy talking to people. A piece of my personality is to be upbeat.” Her advice for her peers is to share their stories with their children and grandchildren. “Sit and talk to each other. You can send for DNA results, but when you talk, you have the stories. And in the stories you can find gratitude.” Janet continues, “When your sense of gratitude permeates your adjustment process, it’s a gift to your family, your friends and yourself. Thank goodness. Give it a try.”
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