At Heron’s Key, you’ll find endless opportunities to build new friendships! It’s no secret that staying connected with others helps to ward off some of the issues commonly associated with aging. Senior living communities like Heron’s Key are ideal for those who want to form new friendships and be involved with people who have similar interests and goals.
Still, for some of us, the thought of moving to a new community and meeting people we don’t know can be a little intimidating, especially if we’ve lived in our homes and had the same neighbors for many years.
Fortunately, most retirement communities make it plenty easy for new residents to settle in and feel at home quickly. So, whether you’re a social butterfly or more of an introvert, there are lots of options to help you ease into your new surroundings and feel like you “belong.”
Right now, here at Heron’s Key, we’re following the recommended guidelines for limiting exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19. Keeping residents, staff, and others in our community safe is always a priority. At the same time, we know how important relationships and activities are to maintaining good mental, spiritual, and physical health. So, we’ve put our heads together and fired up our creativity to come up with careful ways—like Zoom parties and a variety of live and recorded video classes—for residents to stay engaged with their regular fitness routines and favorite people.
When we can safely do so, we’ll gradually return to the types of social events and activities we offer under normal circumstances. Read on to learn more about some of them.
Resident Ambassadors: A Friendly Face Right From The Start
Just like many schools have student volunteers who introduce the new kids to their classmates and help them get acclimated, senior living communities usually have a resident ambassador program that serves the same purpose. Established residents volunteer to be paired with people who’ve just moved in, to welcome them and help them get situated.
At Heron’s Key, answering questions and making it easier for new people to learn their way around the community are just a couple of ways that resident ambassadors make a difference. But they often do much more. For instance, they can make suggestions about various groups and activities that might be of particular interest. They can also invite new residents to social gatherings to help them get acquainted with neighbors throughout the community.
It’s kind of like having a big brother or sister to help you learn the ropes. They’ve been in your shoes, so they know what it’s like to be the “new kid on the block.” And who knows? Your resident ambassador could very well turn out to be your first new friend at Heron’s Key.
Shared Interests—Past, Present, & Future
One of the surest ways to forge new friendships is by finding common ground. Most senior living communities offer a broad range of activities, groups, classes and resident committees so that everyone can find something they enjoy being involved in.
If you’re thinking about moving to Heron’s Key, by all means, ask about the different types of groups and activities available to residents here. Chances are you’ll find at least a few that appeal to you. Maybe you have a hobby or pastime that you used to enjoy, such as gardening or photography, but set aside for one reason or another. Or, maybe there’s something you’ve always wanted to try—like painting or learning a new language—but just never got around to. This could be your chance!
The Woodshop Club
The first group formed at Heron’s Key, the Woodshop Club, was created before the community even opened. When Charter Members filled out their questionnaires they were asked about their hobbies and interests, and it turned out that several of them enjoyed woodworking. So, they got together and organized a field trip to learn more about the Woodshop Club at Emerald Heights, Heron’s Key’s sister community in Redmond. They got advice about starting their own club at Heron’s Key and put the steps in motion.
The Woodshop Club built the raised beds for the community gardens at Heron’s Key and other items in the common areas. Over the years, club members have been involved in all sorts of projects, from making toys for their grandkids to making repairs for fellow residents. Currently, we are asking members to sign up when they want to use the woodshop to limit the number of people who are there at the same time.
The Benevolent Brew Café
If there isn’t already a club or group or committee at Heron’s Key for your particular area of interest, you can always start one!
That’s exactly what Linnea Hunsicker-McNair did. Linnea, one of the very first residents at Heron’s Key, worked as a barista for a couple of years after she retired from nursing. Earlier this year, she decided to put her coffee-making skills to use in a way that would benefit her fellow residents.
She came up with an idea that eventually became The Benevolent Brew Café, a coffee bar in Syren’s Grille that is normally open to everyone in the community—residents, employees, and visitors—on Friday and Saturday mornings. It’s an opportunity for people to get their day going with a brewed beverage and some friendly conversation. It’s also a way to raise money for the benevolence fund at Heron’s Key, which helps residents who are experiencing financial challenges—hence the name.
The Benevolent Brew Café may be relatively new, but it quickly became quite popular. Within the first several weeks, the “Benevolent Brew Crew,” who makes sure the operation runs smoothly, grew to include 17 trained volunteers. And even though dropping in for a cuppa joe isn’t an option right now, the usual baked goods and beverages are still available as part of the meal delivery service currently offered at Heron’s Key—and by the way, Linnea says the coffee’s really good.
In time, Linnea hopes to see The Benevolent Brew Café become a breakfast café similar to the one at Emerald Heights in Redmond.
Community-Wide Events & Casual Get-Togethers
Check the social calendar at nearly any senior living community and you’ll find events and outings created for any and all residents to enjoy, both on campus and off. Dances, casino nights, art walks and themed dinners are a few examples of what Heron’s Key typically offers throughout the year.
If smaller gatherings are more your style, maybe you’d like to attend a wine and cheese party or a small dinner hosted by “Appetizers for Six,” a group at Heron’s Key that encourages new residents to come meet others who live here.
Whether you’re the kind of person who “never met a stranger” or someone who feels more comfortable focusing on one new friendship at a time, the choice is always yours to participate as much or as little as you like.
Easing Into The Transition With Some Virtual Assistance
Our newest neighbors, J.T. and Pat Curtis, just moved here this month after living in Las Vegas for 33 years. They knew they wanted to live in a Type A continuing care retirement community after seeing firsthand how much J.T.’s parents have enjoyed the one they’ve lived in for more than 20 years. Plus, as a real estate attorney, Pat has done some work in the area of senior living and was well-informed about their options. So, they started looking several years ago and had originally planned to move into our sister community in Redmond, Emerald Heights, but eventually opted instead for Heron’s Key.
Although it might seem like a challenging time to move, in light of the pandemic, the Curtises said the process was actually pretty seamless.
“It turned out we were very fortunate,” J.T. said. “We were up here for a visit the last full week of February, right before the outbreak. The only delay we experienced [in the moving process] was the medical exam, which was only for a week. We had a lot of firsts—for example, we were the first to do the exam through telemed—and we signed a lot of the closing documents through DocuSign.”
“Heron’s Key worked with us to keep the process moving forward. They adapted,” Pat said. “They were very transparent about their procedures, for the moving company and for us. We had a number of Zoom calls, so we understood the plan and were prepared.”
“Coming into a community like Heron’s Key was actually a blessing,” J.T. added. “If we had been moving somewhere else, we’d have needed to stay at a hotel and go out to restaurants for meals while we waited several days for the moving van to show up. That would’ve put us at risk.”
Even before the Curtises arrived in their new home, they started getting to know some of their neighbors over cocktails during the weekly Zoom parties. Pat said that also helped to familiarize them with the Heron’s Key lifestyle. She was still working full time up until they moved, so she wasn’t able to do any of the daytime Zoom classes, but she said they’re excited to become part of that now “on a more robust basis.” She mentioned being excited about the life-long learning lectures and the fitness classes, in particular.
J.T. said he was one of about 65 people who attended the May residents association meeting via Zoom. He said he recognized some of the other attendees from the weekly Zoom parties, and other faces were familiar from their trip to Gig Harbor in February.
Pat and J.T. are also looking forward to continuing their daily morning walks in their new surroundings, and after they get a little more settled, J.T. said he might look into joining the Woodshop Club. Pat’s a reader, so she’s interested in joining a book club. Once she adjusts to being retired, she said she might explore some volunteer opportunities, as well.
We Make Making Friends Fun
Should you decide to join us, you’ll discover that every day presents opportunities to socialize and get to know the many multifaceted people who’ve also chosen to make Heron’s Key their home. Get in touch today! Call us at (877) 892-7129 or submit a contact form online.