Voices of Wisdom: Preserving the Stories of Our Elders

A free writing class series for Calaveras County seniors, 55-plus, at four designated senior facilities in Calaveras County began in August 2017 and continued through March 2018. A generous grant from the Calaveras Community Foundation helped support the nine-month-long series of classes, and then funded the print anthology due out April 28. This worthy project assisted seniors in recording their stories in written form and polishing them for publication  if they desired.

Highly-qualified writing coaches and teachers facilitatee four writing sessions in a month, one per week, for two hours each session. Then coaches helped participants shape their writing for a culminating publication for release to the public. There will be a celebratory reading at the Calaveras County Central Library in San Andreas, April 28, from 2-4 pm in where writing seniors will share their published and unpublished works.

 Writing Sessions Schedule Completed:


March – Classes continued through the end of March, every Tuesday, from 2-4 pm at Manzanita Arts Emporium.  March 6, 13, 20, 27

The book is in Final editing and proofing and layout by VOW editors.- Workshop leaders and MWP editors assisted participants in selecting and shaping their work for publication in the anthology. Participants are encouraged to continue sharing their writing at Writers Unlimited sessions —  Mornings: 9-11:30 – First and Third Mondays at Manzanita Arts Emporium. Email or call to let us know you are coming, sharing work, etc.

Evenings: Second and Fourth Mondays 6-9 pm at 255 Lewis Street, San Andreas – Volunteer Center of Calaveras County – right below the San Andreas Elementary School – bottom of the hill on Lewis, make a left. Call to let us know you are coming, sharing work, or just listening.

Saturday, April 28– Public book launch and reading –  at San Andreas Central Calaveras County Library. 2-4 PM. Free! Public invited.


Space was limited to 16 participants in each of the 4-week-long courses per month.

Email: manzanitawp@gmail.com or call: (209) 728-6171.

Open to Mother Lode residents. Each class session was unique. A multi-sensory approach to unlock memories, coupled with other techniques the teachers have utilized in their experience, assisted the writer in retrieving details that may have been lost or buried.

Capturing and preserving the stories of our eldersThis project is made possible by a generous grant from the Calaveras Community Foundation for a  monthly series of writing workshops once a week to capture the stories of our elders and sharing memories of living in our community. A print anthology will be available for the community to enjoy and for historical importance in the archives at the end of the 9-month-long project. Participants are encouraged to include their writing in the culminating anthology, with polished writing produced in the editing process in the last series of February workshops. Manzanita Writers Press conducted these free writing workshops for seniors in the county at several locations with each month’s classes at a different location and with a different writing coach each time – for seniors 55+ only. 

The August classes were held at Oak Shadows Mobile Home Park Community clubhouse, from 9 AM to 11:00. The September classes were held at the San Andreas Senior Center. October classes were held at Murphys Senior Center. November classes at the San Andreas Senior Center. December classes were at Manzanita Arts Emporium. January and February and March classes were located at Manzanita Arts Emporium.

Writers were asked to confirm their participation in advance so that those on the waiting list could be notified in time in the event that participants were not able to be there. Some facilities offered lunch  after the session for a nominal fee, so writers did utilize that option. Calaveras Senior Center in San Andreas, $6, from 11-1. Foothill Village, San Andreas Senior Center ($6), had lunches for seniors. We envisioned writers continuing their writing conversations in small groups over lunch, and many of them did this.

Interview with Denella Kimura on Everywoman’s Hour on KQBM with Kat Everitt





Facility contacts:

Manzanita Writers Press/Arts Emporium coordinators, Monika Rose and Suzanne Murphy: 728-6171

Email: manzanitawp@gmail.com



Denella Kimura – AUGUST  With a Masters in Education, Denella Kimura applies her experience to the writing sessions, with her background as a writer, poet, radio program host, workshop leader with many years of experience in coaching students and writers.


Suzanne Murphy – SEPTEMBER/MARCH- Vice-President and Public Relations Director and editor at Manzanita Writers Press, and a writer, poet,  educator for many years, who has been affiliated with the San Jose Writing Project. She has a collection of poetry nearing completion and offers her editing services to writers as an editor.

Sally Kaplan – OCTOBER  – Co-producer and co-director of Backcountry Pictures. Screenwriter, filmmaker, documentarian, novelist, and fiction/nonfiction writer with over 30 years experience in creating narrative and story. Sally is currently working on a novel nearing completion and has edited work by novelists and screenwriters. She has been involved in several award-winning film and writing projects and has taught at the Naropa Institute and other college programs.


Rebecca Fischer – NOVEMBER – Associate’s Degree in English, working on her BA in English, a writer, and an attendee at many writing workshops, including Gold Rush Writers Conference, currently working on a project documenting the stories of our old families — with generational records, interviews and narratives of historical ranching families in our region. Becca works for Calaveras Enterprise as a reporter and associate.






Chrys Mollett – December – Owner of Aeolian Harp Music  relocated to Manzanita Arts Emporium, music teacher, writer,  poet, events coordinator, and more, Chrys has worked with writers and poets for years on various projects and her work has been published in several anthologies and collections. She is working on a nonfiction book based on historical figures from our region. She facilitates and organizes the open mic for writers, musicians, and listeners at  in Downtown Angels Camp every 2nd-4th Saturday at 6:30. Open Mic – Song Posse current location: First Saturday of every month–at the Center for Creativity in San Andreas– 2nd-4th Saturdays of every month at Manzanita Arts Emporium. Call ahead for times and schedules: 209-728-6171 or 728-1439.

Monika Rose –  JANUARY/FEBRUARY/MARCH -Founding Director and President of Manzanita Writers Press, Editor-in-Chief – over 30 years an editor and writer, poet, educator, and fiction writer. With an MA in English, she is Associate Professor of English, Adjunct, at San Joaquin Delta College. With a novel in progress, a book of poems published, along with editing experience with several anthologies and regional books, and a short story collection nearly ready for publication, Monika offers editing and educational services to the community.

Behind the Scenes:

Joy Roberts, Financial Director at MWP:  Editor, finance wizard and backbone of MWP, Joy participates as a writer, editor, critic, and keeps MWP programs organized and solvent. She is an integral editorial team member at MWP, a fine-toothed-comber of manuscripts, and a wise guide to writers at all levels.