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Lunch, Learn, and Lincoln:

Aug 13, 2019 | Uncategorized

Janina Birtolo personifies Mary Todd Lincoln to educate and entertain

Presenting her one-woman play entitled “In the Shadow of Glory,” Janina Birtolo brought Mary Todd Lincoln out of the shadows and into the Performing Arts Center of The Terraces at Bonita Springs.

More than 40 guests enjoyed a delicious lunch while being immersed in Mary’s story. Born in 1818, Mary was the wife of Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States. She served as First Lady from 1861 to 1865, Through her character, Janina shared Mary’s grief as her losses mounted over the years –  three out of four sons, and her husband, whose violent death she witnessed.

As a well-educated, forward-thinking woman, Mary did not always fit the mold of what was expected during that time.  Due to her independent nature, compounded with being beset and with sorrow, Mary was briefly involuntarily institutionalized for psychiatric disease after her husband’s murder.

Once released, she relocated to Europe until she eventually retired to the home of her sister in Illinois.

Janina has done a great deal of research on each of the 12 women she portrays. Keeping in character throughout the performance, she conveyed Mary’s actions and emotions during each notable incident of her life.

At the conclusion of the performance, guests asked a myriad of questions about the history, Mary’s health, and even her investments.

Everyone who attended expressed that they had a fun afternoon, complete with education and entertainment. The event was such a success that The Terraces shared it again with residents on the following day.

According to, fun, play and entertainment are extremely important for senior wellbeing. Their web content explains: The importance of play can’t be overstated. That’s true for everybody, but it might be particularly true for seniors. After all, in our later years, many of us become more prone to issues that can affect our health and happiness. So any activities that can help us restore or prolong our vitality are essential. Having fun is a lot more powerful in that regard than most people probably realize.

In fact, scientific studies continue to show that play and fun activities—for older adults or people of any age—can have several major benefits. For example, play has the power to help:

  • Improve how your brain works. Do you want to maintain your memory and optimize your ability to learn new things? Playing and having fun—on a regular basis—can help you avoid memory problems and enhance your creativity and mental sharpness.
  • Heal, establish, or maintain relationships. Our social lives are incredibly important for our overall well-being. However, a lot of seniors are lonely. In fact, on average, seniors without spouses or partners spend about 10 hours alone each day.1 But fun and play can enable seniors to make new friends or improve existing relationships. After all, things like laughter and friendly competition are known to increase harmony, trust, empathy, and intimacy among people who experience them together.
  • Improve your mental and emotional well-being. Do you like the way you feel when you have a brighter outlook on life and your sense of time recedes into the background? Engaging in fun and playful activities can expand your optimism, multiply your moments of joy, and reduce your stress. It can even help you prevent depression.
  • Extend your life and improve your physical vitality. Who doesn’t want to feel younger or more energetic? Creating plenty of fun moments in your life can be a good way to boost your immune system, reduce your risk of illness, and minimize your perception of any existing pain you might already have.

About The Terraces at Bonita Springs

Recreation, special events, holiday celebrations, educational programs, guest speakers, and a variety of inspiring activities take place throughout the year at The Terraces at Bonita Springs (  as part of the community’s active lifestyle programs. The Terraces is the only LifePlan Community for senior living in the Bonita Springs area. Living choices include independent living, assisted living, memory support, skilled nursing and rehabilitation. All levels of care, including assisted living, skilled nursing, and memory support are open for direct admittance, with no entrance fee.

For more information, visit or call 239.221.8907.