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Life Enrichment Center in Forest Hills Publishes Anthology

More than 30 personal stories are included in the book.

There's a story about a woman who spent a year in the Congo with her anthropologist husband.

Another is about a psychiatrist and a particularly interesting night he spent in the Bellevue Mental hospital with a patient.

And one about a man's fond memories as a 5-year-old picking out the perfect Christmas tree.

These are some of the more than 30 stories that appear in the Life Enrichment Center's "Pages of My Life Anthology." The book was recently published and will be used by students attending the University of South Florida's School of Aging Studies. Copies will also be sold at the center.

The book includes stories from students in Paula Stahel's writing class at the center, which is located in Forest Hills at 9704 N. Boulevard. The idea to do the book began about two years ago.

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The Life Enrichment Center, located at 9704 N. Boulevard, is a community-based nonprofit that provides classes on a wide variety of topics from the arts to language to fitness. The majority of people the center serves are between their 40s and late 80s.

"I've been teaching classes there for a number of years," Stahel said. "And I always felt the center needed something of this nature."

In 2010, Stahel said she had a class with some very talented writers. She proposed the idea of an anthology to them and the stories began flowing. Soon the University of South Florida took notice and asked if they could use the book for students in the School of Aging Studies.

That prompted Stahel and her students to add more stories. In the end. there were 31 stories written by 18 contributors.

 "I contacted the original contributors and added a number of other writers who have taken my class over the years and incorporated their stories," Stahel said.

Stahel, a professional historian, says she sees the anthology as a way to inspire and encourage people.

The anthology helps us "recognize we all have unique experiences even though we think our lives are normal," she said. "Also in realizing other people have faced challenges and surmounted them and therefore we do can do the same."

Life Enrichment Center executive director Ronna Metcalf said the anthology provides exposure and recognition for the organization.

"It's a great experience in all directions and it's a win for the students to know people in their 60s and beyond are still doing exciting things with their lives," Metcalf said.

To celebrate its publishing the center will hold a private book release party on Saturday, Dec. 1 at the Tampa Museum of Art.

The anthology will go on sale starting Saturday for $12.99 and be available for purchase at the Life Enrichment Center and University of South Florida's bookstore.

Do you plan to purchase the book? Tell us in the comments.

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