Today, we highlight a woman whose perseverance and strength have gotten her so far in life. With a musical background and a love for theater, it’s no surprise Norma Remele, 3 year resident of Wesley Heights, has a particular fondness of Phantom of the Opera. When Activities Director, Linda Fera, heard about Norma’s interest in this esteemed musical, she jumped into action to see what she could do with the UMH Journey of Dreams program.
Norma was born in East Lyme, CT but moved to Bridgeport, CT at age 4 when she was taken in by a foster family. She attended Central High School in Bridgeport, but at age 18, had to leave the foster care system and was forced to go out on her own. She worked various jobs to make ends meet and rented a room with her good friend.
In her early 20s, Norma married a man much older than herself, but after 12 years of marriage, Norma and her husband divorced. After the split, Norma worked in the evening while her oldest son watched the younger children. She had four children, three boys and a girl. Two of them have since passed away, but Norma speaks with pride about her children; their intelligence, their kindness, and their work ethic. She also has 6 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren.
She has always loved music, enjoys Bingo, likes to read, and used to knit. When she was younger, Norma was part of a chorus and remembers fondly being singled out to perform as a soloist for the musical Showboat. Growing up, Norma always wanted to be a singer, and although she took music lessons when she was younger, eventually had to give them up.
Norma loves her life at Wesley Village because there are many opportunities for fun and socialization. She loves all of the music offerings and has made many friends. Norma reaches out to others who are new to the community to help them feel comfortable because “she knows how difficult it is to fit in when you are new.”
Norma was introduced to Phantom of the Opera when she saw the film version. She immediately fell in love with the plot and the music. She has always enjoyed opera music and saw the opera, Carmen, on stage years ago.
In November, Linda Fera told Norma about the Journey of Dreams program at Wesley Village, an initiative designed to make the dreams of residents come true, and how through this program, Norma could see the Phantom of the Opera live on stage. Norma couldn’t believe it. She was thrilled her long-time wish was going to come true. She couldn’t wait to tell her son!
Norma expressed gratitude of the opportunity to see Phantom of the Opera at the Palace Theater and felt honored that “someone thought enough of her” to give her the privilege of seeing this musical on stage.
Linda got to work organizing the details of Norma’s Journey of Dreams program. In late November, Linda and Norma drove up to Palace Theater in Waterbury to enjoy the show.
After the show, some of the production crew were collecting money in buckets in the lobby to be given to various charities. Norma gave $20, not only to support the charities, but also so she could get a free Phantom tote bag. Linda bought her a CD as a souvenir and then treated Norma to a lovely dinner at the Brookside Inn in Oxford.
Norma couldn’t have asked for a better experience. Here are some of her comments on the day:
“You’ll never know how much I appreciate being able to see this show…it was fantastic!”
“I was brought to tears when the show ended.”
“Words can’t express what this day means to me.”
“Everything about the day was perfect.”
It was our pleasure to make Norma’s dream come true.
We all have dreams, things we want to see, places we want to go, and at UMH, we can make those dreams come true! To learn more about this award-winning program, visit https://www.umh.org/journey-of-dreams.
About Chelsea Sayegh
I started working as a Marketing Coordinator for United Methodist Homes in October of 2016. I work on public relations, website management and community planning for their award winning independent and assisted living communities. As a graduate of Ursinus College with a degree in Media and Communications and a passion for serving nonprofits, United Methodist Homes has become my home away from home. I spend my days working in a community filled with smiling faces, helpful hands and wonderful residents. I have a passion for assisting seniors and take great pride in being able to promote a company with such a positive mission and values. As an individual committed to learning and growing, I have jumped right into this exciting career!
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