Our story

Not long after doing a vision quest in the California desert in 2012, Colette Ruoff discovered a project in Santa Fe, N.M. called Lifesongs*, a program of the Academy for the Love of Learning, in which residents of a nursing home collaborate with composers and poets to capture their stories in a song. She ‘fell in love’ and vowed to bring the program home to the Hudson Valley.

With the help of Lifesongs co-founders, Molly Sturges and Acushla Bastible, SageArts trained a group of songwriters in 2014, and offered their first performance in 2015. Since then SageArts has worked with 36 elders including farmers of the Rondout Valley, in partnership with the Rondout Growers Association; Residents of Woodstock; Local Women Leaders; and Holocaust Survivors in partnership with Jewish Family Service of Orange County.

Through our collaborative work with elders, SageArts has become more and more inspired by the wisdom our elders carry and the way their stories enrich our community. We are now collaborating with other nonprofits and artists in the community to launch new projects that are designed to bring the wisdom of elders to the community using other arts including film and theatre arts.

A note from Our founder

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The most meaningful part of this work for me is the stand we take for the value of life experience itself. We are all on a journey of growing into who we really are, and our elders, through overcoming many life challenges, have dissolved the ‘masks’ of youth, and grown into their true selves. They mirror for us our vulnerability and our resilience, and help us connect to the life force that is always vital, regardless of our age. They teach us that aging is not about losing our youth and value to society, it’s about growing into ourselves and navigating our lives from a deeper sense of knowing.

Colette Ruoff

Founder and President of SageArts


*About Lifesongs and the Academy for the Love of Learning:

Founded in 2007 by Acushla Bastible, Andrea Fellows Walters, and Molly Sturges, Lifesongs creates communities of care through deep relationship building, storytelling, music, and performance, and promotes dignity and inclusion for elders and those at the end of life. Since 2011 Lifesongs has been a program of the Academy for the Love of Learning, where it aligns with the Academy’s mission to awaken, enliven, nurture and sustain the natural love of learning in people of all ages and support the ongoing awakening of the heart. Lifesongs and the Academy gave us encouragement and shared their know-how so we could create SageArts. Visit their website: littleglobe.org/portfolio/lifesongs