'Beyond Business As Usual' Lucy-Desi Center Pursuing New Programs, Outreach
THE POST JOURNAL, October 17, 2008

By Nicholas L. Dean

Daily operations at the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center continue unaffected by the recent staff changes at the top of the organization.

''It's beyond business as usual,'' said Patricia Smith, who became the center's associate interim director in mid-September.

Responsible for day-to-day operations, Smith said it is an exciting time for the center. Still seeing many visitors to the center's new museum, Smith said the center is also preparing for the Christmas shopping season and for first-of-a-kind educational and outreach programs.

In the past year, center officials have partnered with the Girl Scouts of Southwestern New York and have made Hispanic outreach a focus. Now, looking to further the Lucy-Desi Center's mission of ''enriching the world through the healing powers of love and laughter,'' the center is developing everything from a humor therapy program to a Komedy Kamp weekend.

''It's a whole new dimension,'' Smith said of what the programs will add to the center.

Thinking about the last year, Mary Jane Price, the center's Mission and Outreach director, uses the word ''exponential'' to describe the center's growth and changing focus. From working with students in the Jamestown Public Schools District to work with the area's hispanic community, Price said the center is achieving its mission of outreach locally.

''The community is starting to realize that we have something to give back,'' Price said. ''They're coming to us and saying: 'Can you do this?' It's wonderful.''

With the local piece in place, Price said the center is looking to build on its outreach. Already the center has sample lesson plans available on its Web site for schools interested in using the histories of Lucy and Desi in the classroom as learning tools. Similarly, Price said center officials will be meeting in November with recognized experts from Rochester General Hospital, St. John's Mercy Hospital in St. Louis and Hospice of the Sun Coast in Florida to develop a collaborative program in humor therapy.

''It doesn't diminish anything that we have here,'' Price said, ''it only enhances it.''

Still in the beginning stages, Price said such a program could have applications globally and would go toward the center's mission of enriching the world through the healing powers of love and laughter. The idea to develop such a program has its roots in a conference the center sent Price to in March of 2007.

''We know we have something magical with the 'I Love Lucy' shows and Lucy-Desi, but how are we going to use it?'' Price said. ''If we don't use it, we're totally missing the point of what Lucy and Desi were and what they provided to the world. These people who are coming in are health care experts. We're not health care experts, but we have the product. They're going to help us determine how we can best serve the greater good with this magical product that we have.''

Also on the horizon is a Komedy Kamp, which center officials say will be offered to those who attend Lucy's Birthday Celebration next August. To be held at the new dorms on the Jamestown Community College campus, the Komedy Kamp will be a five-day camp with clown classes, comedy events and traditional camping activities.

''It's the way it should be,'' Price said of the new programs. ''The department staff is committed to the goal of incorporating the legacies of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz in service to people of all ages and needs. They left a fabulous legacy and we're giving back through that legacy, which is the way it should be.''

For more about the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center, its museums and other offerings, visit www.lucy-desi.com or e-mail info@lucy-desi.com.

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