Everyone has experienced some form of loss in their life. Whether it be a losing a loved one, losing your mobility, losing your home or losing a job – the Township of Montclair’s division of Senior Services/Lifelong Montclair offers a place for women over 60 years old to discuss the ups and downs of life in a group of others who have experienced similar change, through its “Stoop Time” program.
“Stoop Time” is led by founder Leah Johnston-Rowbotham, MS, APRN, BC, and is a safe and confidential space for senior women to form their own community through the free program.
Johnston-Rowbotham recalls her grandmother discussing changes in life with women as she sat on her front stoop shelling peas. Her mother did this while chatting over the back fence with neighbors and Johnston-Rowbotham has found her own “stoop groups” with other parents while they waited to pick their children up from little league or dance class.
“I have found more and more that older women in our town didn’t have that kind of group and I found that it made them more isolated,” Johnston-Rowbotham said. “I think in some ways it caused cognitive decline, I think there was some more depression, there wasn’t as much even physical activity, so I decided they needed a group, they needed a stoop, a place to meet – and it works.”
Currently “Stoop Time” is a group of eight women who come regularly to spend time with each other and discuss the different phases of their life, through a guided session with Johnston-Rowbotham, who volunteers her time.
“They look so forward to meeting with each other, to spending that time with each other, they actually sometimes meet and often will talk and email with each other out of the group,” she said.
The program is currently in its third year of existence and Johnston-Rowbotham hopes to continue growing it and create another group.
Still, even as the facilitator, she has gained so much from the women in the group.
“They have made me realize that growing old is a privilege, and to do it with a sense of grace, and to share that wisdom with others,” Johnston-Rowbotham said. “They just do it with such finesse, they have a sense of humor, they have a sense of sharing with the next generation, and they have a sense of loyalty to each other and to their country. They’re amazing.”
“Stoop Time” meets every Wednesday from about 3:20 p.m. to 4:20 p.m. Previously, the meetings were held at the Edgemont Park House but are now currently taking place at the Municipal Building at 205 Claremont Avenue in Montclair.
In order to register for the free program or for more information, call 973-744-3278.