Category: News

TimeSlips partners with Milwaukee Senior Services Organizations to Reduce Loneliness in Local Older Adults

Milwaukee, July 19th, 2023 – TimeSlips Creative Storytelling, a renowned nonprofit based in Milwaukee, is proud to have partnered with Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin and Metropolitan Chicago, Milwaukee County’s Meals on Wheels program facilitator, and United Community Center (UCC), in an effort to enhance existing services and reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness. As a part of this initiative, titled the “Milwaukee Beautiful Questions Project,” TimeSlips aimed to provide tools and techniques for meaningful and joyful communication to individuals who interact with older adults.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought about unprecedented levels of isolation and disrupted social connections for people across the globe. Although most of us have gradually regained those social interactions that were lacking, the reality remains stark for many aging adults who experienced loneliness and isolation before the pandemic even began.

TimeSlips’ evidence-based training equips staff at Goodwill and UCC with creative communication techniques that surpass mundane small talk, enabling them to foster a genuine sense of community even in brief interactions. These techniques empower individuals to create meaningful connections, offering them a deeper sense of purpose, enhanced well-being, and a reduction in feelings of loneliness. 

“Beautiful Questions” are one of the TimeSlips core concepts, and the primary vehicle of this project. These questions are open-ended with no wrong answers. Based in the present moment, these questions do not rely on fact or memory, and instead evoke creative responses that create a shared opportunity for exploration. 

Through this collaboration, Goodwill provided “Beautiful Questions” to more than 1,400 homebound older adults who are part of Milwaukee County’s Meals on Wheels initiative. Goodwill facilitates this essential no-cost, high-impact service for homebound older adults through the delivery of nearly 1,500 nutritious meals a day and conducting wellness checks at each stop. Goodwill Meals on Wheels drivers incorporated the “Beautiful Questions” as part of their delivery routes and encouraged meal recipients to share their responses in a variety of ways including as postcards and printed on the back of menus which also contained a number to call and leave voicemail responses, further facilitating engagement and personal expression. 

“Through incorporating ‘Beautiful Questions’ on their meal delivery routes, our drivers engaged program participants through a creative outlet that combats isolation and positively impacts their lives by bringing them closer to their community.” said Michelle Drouillard, manager, community services at Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin and Metropolitan Chicago.

The UCC is using the same Beautiful Questions and creative conversation techniques to infuse into their in-person programming, all facilitated in Spanish. United Community Center’s Mission is to transform the lives of Hispanics, families and individuals of all ages by providing the highest quality comprehensive services in education, human services, health, community development and cultural arts. They offer meaningful intergenerational programming, as well as provide opportunities for elders to learn new skills and talents, including how to improve their health to live long, happy lives. 

Ana Castaneda, UCC’s Elderly Programs Manager, has been essential to our efforts in this project and has helped us learn how to best position TimeSlips into new and existing programming. Ana shared, “Our seniors have really enjoyed [TimeSlips]. With Beautiful Questions they have been able to connect with others and share life experiences. Recordar es volver a vivir!! To remember is to live again.” The responses from these Beautiful Questions, both written and audio, English and Spanish, will soon be featured in a creative, interactive installation that three local artists and TimeSlips Trainers are preparing.

The installation will feature responses from participants in this project in innovative ways that encourage exploration. There will be two “phone booths”, including audio responses on a re-engineered pay phone, and written responses in the style of wheat pasted advertisements. On the other side of the booth, people will be encouraged to complete a “Glad Lib”, featuring a story with fill-in-the-blank spaces, meant to be filled with responses that participants shared in correlation to Beautiful Questions that were sent to them. The artists intend to have an educational element present as well, ensuring that people who interact with it can take some Beautiful Questions with them to share with the elders in their life.

TimeSlips Program Manager Sam Goodrich shared, “Every person in our community has a valuable perspective that should be shared and celebrated, but unfortunately our older neighbors are often overlooked.  All of the elements of this installation are intended to bring light to the older adults in our community by showing people of all ages just how creative and thoughtful they are.”

The partnership between TimeSlips Creative Storytelling, Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin and Metropolitan Chicago, and United Community Center signifies a significant step toward addressing the pressing issue of isolation and loneliness in older adults. By combining expertise, resources, and a shared commitment to fostering compassionate communication, the organizations aim to make a lasting impact on the lives of aging adults in Milwaukee County.

The installation will be open to the public and available for viewing at the Milwaukee Rec Center, O.A.S.I.S. location, on July 22 from 1:00 – 3:00pm, and July 24 – 28, 2023 from 8:00am – 4:00pm daily; and the United Community Center from July 31 – August 2, 2023 from 10am-3pm daily.

For more information about TimeSlips Creative Storytelling, please visit To learn more about Goodwill and UCC, please visit and, respectively.

This project is generously funded by the Greater Milwaukee Foundation. For more than a century, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation has helped individuals, families and organizations realize their philanthropic goals and make a difference in the community, during their lifetimes and for future generations. The Foundation consists of more than 1,400 individual charitable funds, each created by donors to serve the charitable causes of their choice. The Foundation also deploys both human and financial resources to address the most critical needs of the community and ensure the vitality of the region. Established in 1915, the Foundation was one of the first community foundations in the world and is now among the largest.

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