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Eva Feeley says she instructs her memoir-writing students to focus on specific moments that affected their lives rather than trying to tell their whole life’s story.

Eva Feeley, of Sea Isle City, knows everyone has a story. She has helped hundreds of people write theirs.

The poet and member of the Jersey Cape Writers Association has been teaching memoir writing for three years through the Cape May County Library System. Her students range from teens to the elderly.

"I teach snapshot writing - a short but extremely descriptive piece about an incident that happened in your life," said Feeley, 61, who also works as a risk manager for Sea Isle City. "Instead of describing an entire career of being a nurse in an emergency room, pick one story. That way it doesn't turn into such an overwhelming project."

Feeley said elderly people tell stories that are almost alien to people's lives today.

"I tell them, ‘You are being an historian,'" she said. "It's like science fiction almost. In their lives, they've gone from living (a simple life on a farm) to the computer age."

Feeley has been writing autobiographical poetry for many years, she said. She wrote a memoir of her early years as a wife and mom, "Listen to Me, Young Lady: A Guidebook through Womanhood," which she self-published and gave to her daughter, Melissa Davis, of Valley Forge, Pa., as a wedding gift 10 years ago.

She is currently teaching a group at the library system's Lower Cape branch, in the Villas section of Lower Township, and will soon start a new group at the Sea Isle branch of the county library and another in the adult education program at Lower Cape May Regional High School.

"A lot of people have wanted to write their memoirs for many, many years, but never knew how to start. I help by getting the ball rolling," she said. "Writing a memoir is a healing experience and provides such a service to the people who will be reading it."

Missed it by that much

For a while Thursday it looked as if three generations of daughters would share the same birthday of March 3. Tanisha McKenzie, 21, of Egg Harbor Township, went into labor that day, the birthday she shares with her mom, Sherron Spence, of Atlantic City. But baby Nyori McKenzie wanted her own day. She waited until 12:51 a.m. Friday to make her appearance at Shore Memorial Hospital in Somers Point, said Spence, who is thrilled her daughter's first baby is healthy and strong at 8 lbs., 10 oz.

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Write your memoirs

To register for Eva Feeley's free weekly memoir-writing workshop at the Sea Isle City branch of the Cape May County Library, call 609-463-6350 or 609-263-8485. The library is located at 125 JFK Blvd., and the workshop will run from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Wednesdays from March 30 to May 18.

To sign up for Feeley's workshop through the Lower Cape May Regional High School adult education program, call 609-884-3475, ext. 223, or visit www.lcmrschooldistrict.com. The program costs $65 and will run from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Thursdays from March 31 to May 26.


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