For an organization that is all about sharing stories, Just So You Know stays pretty quiet.
Since 2007, the Westport-based non-profit has partnered with hospitals and cancer support groups around the country. They’ve helped hundreds of people diagnosed with serious illnesses talk, reminisce, ask and answer questions. Sharing stories is a way to connect meaningfully with loved ones and close friends.
The project began when Gail Addlestone — a friend of Westporter Robin Weinberg — was diagnosed with breast cancer. Gail — who was pregnant — wanted to spend quality time with family and friends. She also hoped to find a way to tell her as-yet-unborn daughter the things a little girl should hear from her mom.
Both goals were accomplished when Robin set up a video camera. Her questions enabled Gail to share stories — big events, small moments, important milestones and finally-funny embarrassments. The women chatted and laughed for hours.
To help others do the same, Just So You Know was born. “It’s more than fun, rewarding and deeply satisfying,” Robin says. “Research shows that storytelling is a powerful, universal way to make sense of things. It’s especially therapeutic as part of coping with a life-changing or threatening illness.”
This holiday season, Westporters can videotape their own stories. Robin is opening her first pop-up recording studio here.
It’s a great way for folks to tape stories, then share them with anyone they wish (via a flash drive, after editing). The videos can be given as gifts to relatives and friends. They can also be passed on to future generations. (With permission, the interviews will be posted on Just So You Know’s website.)
But Westport’s pop-up studio is also a fundraiser. The $50 fee helps Just So You Know offer its programs to people living with serious illnesses.
Any combination can record stories: spouses, siblings, entire families, friend groups, grandparents and grandchildren, co-workers, teachers and students — you name it.
Some bring props or photos. Others read stories. There are no rules (beyond a 30-minute time limit). Whatever is meaningful is good.
They say talk is cheap.
Nope. Thanks to Just So You Know, it’s priceless.
(Just So You Know’s pop-up recording studio is set for Westfair Shopping Center, 1767 Post Road East — opposite Super Stop & Shop — from December 5 to 13. To reserve a session, click here. For more information — including how to bring Just So You Know to your organization — click on www.just-so-you-know.org.)