The Scoop: One of the most special treasures a couple has is the story of how they fell in love, but if they don’t write it down, that story may not endure for generations. That’s why MemoryWell created MeetCute Stories to capture those love stories for couples to share them with loved ones — and even future generations. MemoryWell also has a team of passionate writers who share the life stories of older people to help improve their care.
Jay Newton-Small understands the power of storytelling thanks to her years as an international journalist for Time Magazine. But one day she realized the impact her storytelling could have on everyday people.
Years ago, Jay had to place her father in a memory care facility when his Alzheimer’s made it too challenging to care for him at home. The disease often made him angry and confused, and Jay worried that the people caring for him wouldn’t understand his complexity and warmth the way she did.
During the intake process, the facility asked her to fill out a questionnaire about her father. As a writer, Jay decided to go further. She wrote two pages about his life story and shared details about his family and accomplishments. When she shared the story with the nurses who cared for him, she saw his care improve.
That’s when Jay had the idea to create MemoryWell, a service that shares the life stories of older people to help others — including caregivers — understand them.
“The foundation of MemoryWell is based in storytelling to promote person-centered care,” said Michael Alison Chandler, the Managing Editor of MemoryWell. “It’s a whole-person approach that conveys their values and the experiences that matter the most. That can make a huge difference.”
Today, the writing team captures the stories of people who are advanced in age and those just beginning their lives together. The company recently branched out to launch MeetCute Stories, which connects professional writers with couples who want to tell the story of their relationships in a fun, captivating way.
A Wide Network of Professional Writers Are Ready to Listen
Michael said that the company started to grow as older people became interested in sharing their life stories — especially to younger generations within the family. Often, people want to tell their story but don’t have the skills or confidence to write it themselves.
“When you start writing someone’s story, it becomes a story of a marriage, a couple, or a union,” Michael said. “We found that we end up writing a couple’s story together because their lives are so intertwined. That’s especially true of when we meet people who are in their 70s or 80s. We end up writing the story of both of them together.”
MemoryWell, which began through Jay’s experience with her father, has a healthcare mission. MeetCute stories are aimed at lovebirds of any age or stage in their lives. It’s a great way to capture the essence of a relationship, whether couples are newlyweds or celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.
“Everyone can relate to the experience of sitting down with a loved one to capture their life story. Everyone wants to do this, but they’re too busy,” Michael said. “Or maybe they’re too nervous to ask certain questions and do the story justice. But when you bring the discipline and practice of journalism into it and bring in someone from the outside, it helps it get done.”
The stories are hosted on either the MemoryWell or MeetCute platform, although clients can make their relationship stories private if they prefer.
Couples Can Talk About Their Adventures Together
The team includes many journalists and professional writers who can turn around a story in just a week. It starts by scheduling a 45-minute interview, and the MeetCute stories sometimes require two phone calls. During the process, the couple and the writer can decide what’s best.
After the call, the writer will draft a 750-word personalized feature on the person or the story of how a couple met and the life they created together.
“We know it’s their story, so they can make changes or edit,” Michael told us. “We can have it done and get it written on a page.”
Couples can add a timeline, photos, or short videos to their feature to personalize their relationship story even more. Once they create a password for the site, they can make their story private, download and print a copy, or create a book to send to loved ones.
Michael said the network includes 700 writers, but the company is always looking for more. Writers can apply by submitting their résumés, clips of their writing, and information about why they are interested in doing this type of work.
“They’ve often done work with their own history or caregiving experiences or profile writing. We like to find that kind of fit,” she said. “We have many writers, and we plan to keep growing. We have a lot of great talent who found us.”
MemoryWell and MeetCute Help Preserve Legacies
Michael said the team had been surprised with the impact its storytelling has made in the lives of people young and old. MemoryWell is primarily focused on using the profiles to improve health care for those who need it.
“We’re working to grow across the health care continuum, work with senior living and dementia care facilities. We want to understand the context of how people are providing care in different ways,” Michael told us. “There is a real pivot of health care taking place, and we can provide insights because we have intimate conversations with people that get to the heart of what’s important and their needs.”
The MeetCute project began during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many people were forced to postpone their weddings but still wanted to share their relationship stories with friends and family.
Michael said she completed a version of a MeetCute project when she captured her grandfather’s life story for a project in graduate school. As she was working with him, he shared a memory of when he first spotted her grandmother walking down the street.
“He said she had great legs. When he saw and met her, he knew instantly she was the woman he was going to marry,” Michael said. “I did a radio documentary of their love story. They were married for more than 60 years.”
As her grandfather aged and required more medical care, that story transformed and became an even greater gift for her family. She said she is grateful to have it preserved.
“I followed them and saw what it’s like to age together and the challenges and the gift that is,” she said. “With MeetCute, we wanted to offer something special that couples could do now and share virtually with their communities.”