Memories Campaign holds fundraiser, plans to continue intricate storytelling of Geneseo residents

After a two-year hiatus, The Memories Campaign has decided to return to telling the stories of older Geneseo community members. Pictured above from left to right is head interviewer senior Casey Vincelette, editor-in-chief senior Holly Gilbert and president senior Rachel Ollis at their fundraiser on Saturday Jan. 27 at the Riviera Theater. (Courtesy of Holly Gilbert)

Previously known as Heard @ Geneseo, The Memories Campaign has since rebranded itself to be bigger than ever, and has become an inseparable part of the Geneseo community. 

Both students and locals alike came out on Saturday Jan. 27 to show their support for the Memories Campaign at their fundraiser at the Geneseo Riviera Theater, which featured a showing of The Princess Bride. The event helped raise around $900 that will all go toward covering the club’s expensive printing costs.

The Memories Campaign is a student-run organization that interviews local senior citizens to document their unique and fascinating stories, which are then shared with the rest of the community, creating a collection of recorded family oral histories that are important to Geneseo’s history. 

Memories Campaign head interviewer senior Casey Vincelette deems the organization significant for preserving and honoring the past. 

“[The campaign is] important for the community. History is comprised of all the individuals who lived through an age,” Vincelette said. “The way that seniors feel about their experiences matter. They matter to us, they matter to future generations and they especially matter to their families.” 

The Memories Campaign interviews people from various backgrounds and oftentimes, the club finds their next interviewee from community members themselves, who recommend individuals they feel have a captivating story to share. 

Memories Campaign editor-in-chief senior Holly Gilbert believes that the interviewees lead very intricate lives.

“From the people we have already interviewed, they have very fascinating life histories,” Gilbert said. “Some of them spend their entire lives in Geneseo, so you learn a lot about the community here and what it was like in the ‘50s and ‘60s through now.”  

The change behind the club’s name came from confusion amongst readers and because it was not adistinct identifier. 

“Honestly, part of it was because we kept getting confused with [the Facebook page] Overheard at Geneseo. Part of it was that the name was a bit obscure and didn’t really give much information about who we are or what we do,” Vincelette said.  

The Memories Campaign is not funded by the Student Association; however, they have never let that stop them from helping to publish the stories behind the community’s rich history. The Memories Campaign acts as a bridge between the two worlds of Geneseo: the students and local community members. 

“At [the fundraiser last Saturday], we saw so many people from these different worlds come together and we couldn’t have accomplished what we did if we didn’t have both of their support,” Vincelette said.  

Gilbert reflected that supporters of the project not only offered financial assistance, but also the co-owner of the Riviera Theater Don Livingston is helping the club through the publishing process.

Currently, copies of the books are being archived within Milne Library for students interested in oral history, but the organization is contemplating plans to begin digital archiving and even including interview recordings to preserve the voices of individuals. As of now, the organization is mainly focused on backlogging stories and trying to get more students interested, since there has been a lack of resources over the past two years. 

The Memories Campaign is a vital piece to the Geneseo community, creating a world where everyone’s voice, story and life is celebrated and valued.