At Willow Valley Communities, residents engage in programs, hobbies, and passions in ways that may be much different than what is found at other senior living communities. Our programs and lectures go much deeper and the educational value is enhanced by adding different layers of learning with a coordinated trip to an exhibit or location on the subject. Residents also take part in regular trips to local institutions of higher learning like Franklin & Marshall College, Elizabethtown College, and Millersville University for their educational programs. And Willow Valley Communities’ residents can take advantage of trips to other countries, such as a recent trip to Cuba. An African safari is also in the planning stages. Groups are purposely kept small so that residents can truly immerse themselves and learn about the culture.
Many more examples of mind sharpening programs can be found at Willow Valley Communities, including:
- Great Decisions– A group that meets to discuss and debate current world issues. The topic of a recent meeting was U.S. Global Engagement and the Military.
- Socrates Café– A group that meets to discuss, debate, and question commonly accepted assumptions.
- Poetry Circle and Writers Club, which publish books of their works.
- A SCORE Chapter of resident professionals mentoring young business owners. SCORE, started in 1964, is a resource partner of the U. S. Small Business Administration and is an acronym for the Service Corps of Retired Executives. Its mission is to foster vibrant small business communities through mentoring and education.
- Willow Valley Communities also has a strong commitment to the Lancaster community with many of its residents volunteering as tutors in academics and music in the School District of Lancaster.
- Willow Valley Communities’ Fitness Classes—atypical in their nature—also challenge the mind. These include TRX Suspension Training, Spinning Bike Training, Fencing, Glide Fit Cardio Waves, and Yoga Float.
- Willow Valley Communities offers a variety of educational series on different subject matters, where residents have the opportunity to fully engage in the topic through visual displays, panel discussions, lectures, art, and book signings. Subject matter covers a wide variety of current topics, which stimulates further thought and discussion among residents. Recent topics have included Vietnam, religion, poverty, the LGBT community, family dynamics, and politics – with politicians and would-be politicians visiting and speaking to resident groups. Willow Valley Communities recently served as the host location of a recent Pennsylvania gubernatorial debate that was televised live across the state.
Willow Valley Communities has many, many more examples of “mind-sharpening” programming for residents and has always had a strong commitment to them. Most are either no cost to the resident or are offered for a nominal fee. Stacy Musser, Willow Valley Communities’ Senior Director of Resident Life and Wellness, is clear about the organization’s commitment: “It is important to us. It is such a priority to help residents live life forward. Engaged residents are happier residents, healthier residents.” She further explains, “We value that Willow Valley Communities has a mind, body, spirit approach in everything we do. It’s all inclusive and that makes for a happier person.”
Willow Valley Communities’ Resident Life & Wellness Coach, Tyler Heidelbaugh adds, “I think our residents make a conscious decision to come to Willow Valley to enhance their lives with new opportunities and experiences, rather than staying where they were maintaining the status quo. They know we facilitate those types of programs and are always open to their ideas for new ones.” He recounts an interesting discussion he recently had in his “New Resident Discussion Series,” during which one resident summarized the mind sharpening benefits of Willow Valley Communities’ programming referring to it as an “opportunity for adventure.”
By Maureen Leader