Women’s Only Workshop at Abbey Delray South sparks community conversations


By: Joanie Cox-Henry Contributing Writer

Whether they’re discussing the power of smiling, living with passion or the effects of ageism in society, the Women’s Only Workshop is always a popular group for residents of Abbey Delray South to attend the third Tuesday of each month.

Led by Elaine Hollander, around 15 women gather to watch TED Talks and engage in a discussion afterward. “I started this group in 2015 because I really wanted to get to know the other women who live here,” said Hollander, 92, who was a professor of so-ciology and psychology at The University of the District of Columbia and American University in Washington, D.C. “My intent was also to promote our own personal growth and create a group where we could learn and grow together.”

The Sept. 17 lecture focused on ageism and a TED Talk featuring Ashton Applewhite, author of “This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism.”  The video seminar prompted women in the group to share their own thoughts on aging, society, the cos-metics industry and more.

“Youth is so celebrated in our society, especially through what we see in cosmetics ads and even TV and film,” said Phyllis Goldenberg. “Ageism is a real thing, especially in the workplace. But aging is something to really be thankful for. I have lost friends and family members at a young age so I’m grateful to still be here.”

Yerti Nelson hasn’t missed a Women’s Only Workshop since its inception. “We discuss all different topics and I look forward to hearing the different perspectives,” said Nel-son, who is so devoted to the group she has shown up still dripping wet from aqua therapy in the pool. “I never want to miss this workshop. We all get a lot out of it.”

Sue Merrell, who helped plant a butterfly garden at Abbey Delray South, has also been attending the Women’s Only Workshop since it started. “Our talks are always fun and educational and it promotes a lot of sociability,” said Merrell, 79. “Ageism is an im-portant topic to discuss. I think age is an accomplishment.”

Valerie Ever, 84, appreciates the community of the Women’s Only Workshop. “We really celebrate age here,” Ever said. “And living at Abbey Delray South in community, we have so much support. And there’s an endless list of activites for us.”

Kathy Leonard, 80, looks forward to the solidarity meeting with the group brings her. “The topics we cover really get us to think and it helps us grow as a group and as indi-viduals,” Leonard said. “We get to share some of our own experiences and we don’t feel alone.”

Abbey Delray South’s Director of Lifestyle Teresa Zorn was delighted when Hollander had come to her with the idea to launch a women’s workshop. “Our lecture topics are all resident facilitated and we like to offer as many choices of groups and activities as possible for our residents,” Zorn said. “The resident volunteerism in this community is truly wonderful.”