Molly Fisher Brings Passion and Experience to Programming at Inspīr
At Inspīr Carnegie Hill, our philosophy of vibrant, intentional living echoes loudly throughout all of our program offerings. Whether it’s art and music, movement and mobility, or taking time to laugh, life at Inspīr Carnegie Hill keeps our residents engaged, and keeps them vital.
With an aim to exceed every expectation of our residents, we took an all-inclusive approach to developing our programming platform. It was our goal to ensure our residents live life with intention, through creative experiences and opportunities for connection. We began by envisioning what would constitute a vibrant lifestyle, and we decided upon Nine Core Elements that would run through our programming. Then we identified the best partners to deliver those experiences, fine-tuning programs to suit the Inspīr philosophy and mission, and envisioning what it would look like across our three care programs—Sol, Terra, and Oceana. Whether residents join a talk about the latest New York Times best seller or participate in a culinary demonstration with Chef Maffei during happy hour, the experiences are created to engage and vitalize.
Spearheading this process for our team is Molly Fisher, LCSW, Director of Program Innovation and Education. Molly comes to Inspīr from the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA), and brings with her a wealth of knowledge and expertise. We recently sat down with Molly to talk about her past experience and what she is looking forward to as being part of the Inspīr team.
Tell us a bit about your previous role at the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA). How has it paved the way for your position here at Inspīr?
I was fortunate enough to join AFA in 2015 and further launch their educational and social services programming. I traveled throughout the country to meet families and individuals living with dementia and visit care settings. During these visits, I gained a sense of what people’s needs were, what people liked and disliked, and recognized gaps in the services provided. Then, I had the opportunity to build programs and services to meet those needs on a national level. At Inspīr, I will fulfill the vision and mission of the building, to disrupt aging, and to transform how residential care services are provided and consumed. I’m excited to take all of my experience from my previous role and put it to work with the stellar Inspīr team, and pave the way for change.
What are some of your favorite programs, and why?
I like to think about programming based on what brings joy to someone. For me, I love musical experiences, I can talk about travel for days, and I always enjoy anything food-focused. But that’s just me. I’m excited to meet our residents, hear about what gets them excited, and build from there. It allows for so much creativity and innovation, and that is what will keep things interesting, and what sets Inspīr apart from other senior living residences.
The partnership with the Jewish Museum sounds like a great collaboration. Can you tell me a bit more about it?
All of our residents will have a membership to the Jewish Museum and can visit the galleries, the shop, and restaurant, along with having access to great workshops and other programs. JM Journeys is a specific program run with the museum for Oceana residents at Inspīr. And it’s so accessible, with the location being just a few blocks west on 5th Avenue and 92nd Street.
We love the Sweet Readers program, especially because of the intergenerational aspect to it. Can you tell us more about this program?
I was introduced to Sweet Readers by a family I met years ago. The backstory caught my attention—a young girl finding joy in reading to her grandmother living with dementia, getting her friends involved, and growing it into a nonprofit from there. This program now works with middle schools around the country, building this into their daily coursework, teaching children how to best engage with older adults, learning how to connect and be kind. I worked with Sweet Readers at AFA by bringing their program into the community. It was amazing to see the engagement between the students and older adults with dementia, and I can’t wait to see the success of this program for our Oceana residents.
Can you expand on why you are so passionate about helping people live fulfilled lives?
I’ve always been interested in why people do what they do, and in who they are and what their story is. I’ve always loved personal stories, even when I was a kid. I am an avid reader and just get captivated by a story. As a social worker, I’ve had the opportunity to engage with people from many different circumstances. When you are interested and curious in the people you are speaking with, you discover some really amazing stories. Older adults have so much to share through experience. Perhaps a great love story, a story of battle or of loss, a rags-to-riches story, a great comeback story—everyone has a story to bring to life.
Society often discounts our seniors. Not everyone takes the time to talk with them, hear what they have to say, and learn from them, but at Inspīr, that’s where we begin. We want each day to be different—filled with adventure, creativity, and surprise.
How did your experiences and access to the latest research influence your perspective on what elements are vital to living a vibrant life?
It’s great to stay educated and informed on the latest research; however, I always focus on the person first. As much as music programs are shown to be beneficial to seniors, it doesn’t always resonate with everyone. Each resident has his or her own passions and interests that make them “tick.” Staying abreast of the best practices allows me and my team to have more tools for our toolbox and introduce residents to new programs that may interest them in order to enrich their lives and help with their specific needs. As a New Yorker, I love the city for the rich culture and endless opportunities—theatre, arts, social connections, etc. Here in the heart of it all, there is always something new to explore or take advantage of. My team and I are always on the lookout for what is new and happening around us, and are excited to take advantage of all the city has to offer—keeping residents connected to the vibrant city that they all love so much.
What do you love about the program experience you’ve helped develop for Inspīr?
I love that our programming includes something that every person, at all ages, would love. We are creating a curated list of experiences that will mirror what our residents have been doing throughout the course of their lives prior to moving into Inspīr. Bringing the best of NYC culture, theatre, and music directly into the residence is amazing—I love that. Finding opportunities to join with one another for a fireside discussion on the latest books, or sharing with one another the adventures they have taken around the world. These are experiences—not activities, not entertainment. This is the Inspīr way, and how we live life with intention.
The city of New York is our stage for the experiences we offer at Inspīr. We’ll have garden talks at Carl Schurz Park, or an immersive lecture and experience on birding at the Ramble in Central Park. Our Nine Core Elements ground us in community and belonging for all of our residents, so we will be on stage, in the parks, at the galleries all around NYC on a weekly basis. If the need arises to stay safely within Inspīr, we will pivot by utilizing our amazing Allī technology suite, which includes virtual reality and smart technology to bring all that we love about NYC right into their apartments or our amenity spaces.
Since April, in response to COVID-19, and recognizing the continued need for engagement and interaction, Molly began scheduling weekly virtual events, some open to the public and others exclusive to our residents. Highlights include an interactive cooking class with Inspīr’s Chef Gio Maffei, continuing education workshops to give back to front line social workers and health care professionals, improv classes, and Around the World in 12 Museums, among others. These events have proven to be a great success, and have kept people engaged and intellectually stimulated through these isolating times.