Author Archives: StoriedLives

What About My Grandmother?

So often when friends hear about Storied Lives, they’ll say something like “Oh I wish someone would write about my grandmother/grandfather. He/she has such amazing stories!”

It’s true. For those of us lucky enough to get to know our grandparents, we know what rich history they have handed down through oral storytelling. In some cases, we may have been lucky enough to audio or videotape a few words.

I remember my grandfather telling us stories about coming to this country at age 6 without his parents. He had to learn to support himself from a young age and through hard work and determination, created a legendary menswear retail business in Baltimore, MD.

What a gift it would have been to have written down even one of his stories! He passed away when I was in high school, and I still miss him many years later. The stories sadly start to fade in one’s memory as the years go by.

So if you are able to start or participate in a formal Storied Lives program, jump at it. But even if that is not possible, start an informal one with a few friends and write stories about the elderly in your family, neighborhood, or religious organization. We’d love to hear about your efforts, recognize them, and put the stories on our site.

Or just take the time to write a story about that one important elderly person in your life, such as – yes you guessed it – your dear grandmother. Send your story or stories to us at and we’ll be happy to post them on our site. Your grandparents will treasure the story, you’ll treasure the experience, and we’ll post the story where many more people can benefit from their wisdom and wit – written through your eyes and ears.


I Want to Start Storied Lives at My School

So you’ve looked around the Storied Lives website and you’re intrigued and maybe even a little excited. Perhaps you’re thinking “this is my kind of program” and now your next question is “how do I get this program in my high school? The answer is both simple and not so simple at the same time.


The simple answer is that you have the ability to bring the program to your school and we can provide you all of the information to make that happen.


The not so simple part is that you will need a little help. Remember that you need two things to make the program work: a group of students who want to do the program and a group of the elderly who you can visit, get to know, and write stories about.


For the first part, the students, you will need to get the support of at least one teacher at your school. Without a supportive teacher, it will be nearly impossible to promote the program in the school and get the students signed up. By finding a teacher who is willing to help you make it happen, you are well on your way to starting a Storied Lives program in your school.


The second part is finding the elderly who will participate. The best way to do that is to talk to any elderly care homes in your area. They are typically very interested in having bright, socially minded high-school students come and visit the elderly at their facility. It is great for the elderly and therefore great for the elderly care home. Your teacher can help you to locate and get the approval of an elderly home in your area.


Once you find a teacher and a willing elderly care home, you can start right away. For more information on starting a program, just email us at We’ll send you a “Getting Started” packet, plus answer any questions you have. We look forward to hearing from you!



How We Got Started

When someone gets involved with Storied Lives, either as a participant or supporter, they are always surprised to hear that this program was born just a few short years ago (in April 2012). I suppose that’s a compliment and a testament to the wonderful people who believe in the mission of Storied Lives and work hard to bring it to life. It’s for that reason that it is worth telling the story of how the idea originated.


My daughter, Zeenie, and I co-founded Storied Lives as a labor of love. As she was growing up, she had expressed an interest in helping the elderly and we would often talk about doing some kind of service for and with elder care and assisted living homes. In high school, Zeenie’s other lifelong passion – writing – blossomed to an extent that it seemed obvious to combine writing with social service.


Zeenie’s idea was to write stories about the lives of the elderly, and she felt strongly that there were other students (including some of her friends) who had a similar love of writing, helping others, and preserving the past through stories. As we began fleshing out the idea, we realized that storytelling was a lost art that was in the midst of making quite a comeback. Nonprofits like StoryCorps and The Moth were taking off, and even businesses were making storytelling a focus.


For example back in 2011, Terri Nopp, founder and CEO of Online Newsroom, stated that “… the Internet came along, followed by social media, and storytelling took off. Companies went from talking about products to talking about what people were doing with them.”


We realized that the unique aspect of Storied Lives would be the focus not just on oral storytelling, but on the lost art of written stories. By creating a program where students write stories about the lives of the elderly, the intergenerational benefits of storytelling come to life.  Because the student is not just recording the story – but is actually writing it, they participate in it.  How?


First, the student visits with – and must get to know – the elderly resident in order to shape a story about their life. Second, they breathe their own experiences and style into the story so that it becomes a collaboration between the generations. Finally, the story becomes a gift that is given back to the elderly person and stands as a testament to their achievements and impact on the world.


Every life has an amazing story. We want those lives to live on through the stories that move us all.

– Tariq Sharif, co-Founder