Margaret Nelson turns 103 years old today. This is a major milestone by any definition; made more so by the fact that this resident of Saint Therese of New Hope, clearly subscribes to the belief that “you are never too old to learn.”
Born in Delano in 1921, Margaret always had a creative streak. She was a tailor for Robert Hall Clothes, and a seamstress over the years, but she also embroidered…and doodled.
But her family never knew she was an artist. That was until she started doing one-on-one art therapy last year with Susan Volden, an art therapist from Buffalo, Minn. Since Margaret began working with Susan twice per month, she has created three works of art.
Her daughter, Carolyn Nelson, said when she first saw what her mom had painted, it brought tears to her eyes. “I had never seen my mom paint, so I was amazed.”
Carolyn, the oldest of Margaret’s four children, and a weekly volunteer at the New Hope Gift Shop, has framed the first painting (of a lake scene) and has hung it in her home. She plans to have the other two paintings framed as well for her siblings. “We just need one more masterpiece from my mom for my youngest sibling,” said Carolyn.
Susan has been doing art therapy for more than 13 years and visits residents in the Saint Therese of New Hope care center twice per month. She comes armed with a case full of acrylic paints and a handful of paintbrushes and guides the focus and hands of people like Margaret, to create beautiful works of art. While working with Margaret, Susan learned the types of things and colors she liked and showed her some ideas from a book of samples she carries. The rest, as they say is history.
Benefits of art therapy
Why, you may, ask is art therapy beneficial for older adults? We’ve found that participating in innovative art and music programs can be life changing. It gives seniors an opportunity to express themselves and gain a sense of achievement. It also encourages movement and coordination so they can maintain their fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination and overall physical dexterity.
The capper on this feel-good story is that Susan’s therapy program is funded completely through donations made to Saint Therese by donors like the Saint Therese Auxiliary. The Auxiliary is a group formed in 1968, that to this day, provides additional help and support to the New Hope community. Carolyn Nelson is among the members of the Auxiliary.
And last, but certainly not least, Happy 103rd Birthday Margaret!!