Place to preserve memories

The My Memory Catcher company interviews subjects, writes down stories and presents them in artistic way.

May 27, 2010|By Michael Miller

Randi Rubenstein knew the house was just a house. But as she cleaned out the rooms in Newport Beach where she had raised 10 foster children, she found herself overwhelmed with memories — and wanting to preserve them.

A quick call to Keri Gee Semmelman fixed that.

Semmelman, a Huntington Beach resident, launched My Memory Catcher last fall to help people capture their favorite moments with spouses, children, pets and more. She and her team of interviewers, known as the happiness historians, talk to clients every two or three weeks and write down their cherished stories. When the process ends, My Memory Catcher presents clients with a memento of their choice — a journal, a picture frame, a storybook or a mock newspaper.

Rubenstein's order was taller than most, as she had Semmelman interview not only her but her 10 former foster kids. The collection of anecdotes is due this weekend, and Rubenstein, who sold her house last year, can't wait.


"We're getting other perspectives on the house," she said. "Everyone remembers something different, kind of like 'Rashomon.' It's wonderful that we'll be able to combine some of what everyone experienced there."

Fighting those blues

A longtime public relations consultant and motivational speaker, Semmelman had a serious motive when she started My Memory Catcher.

One day, she was listening to the news and heard a story about a husband and father who committed suicide after losing his job. According to the report, the man had a seemingly happy life and did charity work in his community, but felt despondent when he wasn't able to provide for his family.

A few hours later, Semmelman heard another news report on the radio about a man who had killed himself. Almost immediately, she called a business coach and pitched the idea for My Memory Catcher, which she had conceived a year before.

Semmelman has created books and picture frames for four clients and publicized her business through Facebook, Twitter and word of mouth. To build her team of happiness historians, she enlisted 10 communications consultants and community leaders whom she met throughout her career. Still, Semmelman ends up doing a lot of the interviewing herself, and she relishes it.

"What I get from this is, I get to be around a lot of people's happiness," she said. "I laugh and cry during almost every interview."

Service with a smile

So what's the key to being happy, according to Semmelman?

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