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Diversity, celebrated during Black History Month at RUNNELLS Specialized Hospital

diversity celebrated during black history month at runnells
A look at India as part of the Cultural Diversity Celebration - Zalak, a Recreation Therapist at RUNNELLS modeled an Indian Salwar-Kameez also known as a Punjabi, a popular, comfortable Indian garment originally for women in Kashmir and Punjab, now popular in all regions of India. The Dupatta, an equally colorful scarf flowed gently and dramatically behind her.

Music and words were the tickets for RUNNELLS SpecializedHospital of Union County residents to experience and celebrate diversity as part of Black History Month.

“Celebrating diversity is important,” said Union County Freeholder Chester Holmes, liaison to RUNNELLS SpecializedHospital. “When you look at a painting are only the red strokes beautiful or are the other colors just as lovely? Would it be nearly as striking if you only had one color? The beauty of a painting, like the beauty of humanity comes from the harmonious coming together of all the colors. We must learn about the different parts before we can fully appreciate the whole. RUNNELLS residents are to be commended for their salute to diversity.”

There are many styles of music, from rock to rhythm and blues; from classical and country western to Punjabi. Several styles were represented at the diversity program.

One style of music presented was the spiritual which often had lyrics with dual meanings. This was explained by Lisa Bullock, Dietary Technician when she spoke of “Steal Away to Jesus” sung by Bridgette Jordan, Recreation Therapy Aide (RTA). The lyrics, to casual listeners like plantation masters and their families suggested only a sweet religious song. The meaning for slaves was also stealing away to freedom from slavery.

Also presented was jazz. Steven Alford of RUNNELLS’ Transportation Department said “Jazz is free; it is a kind of music that you can change while you play it, letting musicians put their own spirit into a song.”

Jazz was developed by African Americans around the turn of the 20th century. "What a Wonderful World" released in 1967 was intended as an antidote for the increasingly racially and politically charged climate in the U.S. The song; detailing delight in everyday joys has a hopeful tone for the future. Made famous by Louis Armstrong, one of the most loved and best known of all jazz musicians, the song was performed by residents Eddie Gordon and Ernie Salvati.

Other styles of song demonstrated were Santa Lucia, a traditional Neapolitan folk song; “Amazing Grace" a Christian hymn and a Mexican love song "Bésame Mucho" (which can be translated into English as "kiss me a lot).

“Music is powerful,” said Freeholder Holmes. “Even without words or with words in a language you don’t understand you get a feeling for the culture that gave birth to the song. Music is not the only way to convey thoughts and feelings; words, often in the form of poetry can do that. The power of words without music was shown with the reading of the poem ‘Phenomenal Woman’ by Maya Angelou.”

Before the celebration’s close, Patricia Scott, Director of Volunteer Services and Activities Therapy summed up the reason for the program saying, “What makes us special is how we treat our fellow man. At RUNNELLS we celebrate cultural diversity.”