Ten Minutes with Liz Goldstone
Co-founder of Family Face Time
Liz Goldstone worked as a nurse at Columbia Presbyterian before moving to Ridgefield in 1991. She and husband Steven, the former CEO of RJR Nabisco, helped create Founders Hall. Liz has given time and energy to Danbury Hospital, and now at Lounsbury House. She and colleague Kerri Glass have launched Family Face Time, to encourage families to sit down and share screen-free dinners.
Founders Hall opened 13 years ago, for members of the community over 60. How’s it going?
It brings so much joy to so many people. A lot of elderly had said they felt invisible, and now so many say, “We are not invisible anymore. We are welcomed and embraced. I don’t have to move away from town.”
What got you involved in Lounsbury House?
It has had such significance for me and Steven. We were looking at houses in Bedford, then drove through Ridgefield and Lounsbury House really caught our eye. It attracted us to town. I wanted to help make sure that this landmark continued as it was. It had lost its relevance.
What did you do at Danbury Hospital?
We wanted to re-introduce the human touch. We wanted nurses and doctors to introduce themselves to patients—and not just come in and start poking around. That was lost. Now everyone from the janitor to the top physician has to go through this training, to make you vulnerable and feel what it’s like to be a patient. Danbury Hospital has had great success implementing this.
Why Family Face Time?
Family Face Time comes from seeing what our culture does to a family. Sports, academics, and busy-ness are a huge interference to families getting together. Then throw in technology.
Does it resonate with people?
Yes, it sure does. People are seeing its relevance. People do not have time for family dinners, but all of the research will tell you that there is much reduced risky behavior if a family interacts around its own dinner table. It’s really important for the kids and parents to be at the same table—their own table—together, without others or any distractions.
How does it work?
We partnered with four restaurants—Parma Market, Milillo Farms, Genoa Deli, and Southwest Cafe. You register at familyfacetime.org. On specified dates, you get a basket and a really good, healthy meal. This basket becomes a symbol. Its function is to hold the phones and iPads while you have dinner. But if someone feels like they all need to be together, they can bring out the basket, and that means: Let’s talk.
The basket seems like a good way to keep it going. We also offer mad-libs and other fun games to play, to start dialogue. It really takes the heaviness off, and for some people the interaction is never that easy. We wanted a fun element, so that it becomes natural hanging-around time.
How do you measure its success?
Most projects I try to do are three- to five-year projects. We are in the pilot phase. After 18 months we will refine it. Then after three or four years we can bring it to a larger audience.