From New Neighbors to Steadfast Friends

At Willow Valley Communities, there is always something — or someone — to celebrate. Relationships and friendships come easily as Residents open their homes and their hearts to new neighbors. Those new neighbors soon become dear friends sharing a laugh and making dinner plans over a hot cup of tea or a refreshing glass of wine.

Willow Valley Communities’ newest Residents at SouthPointe Village have already gotten the hang of it. Residents of the new M apartment building, the first of several to be constructed on the site, have regular, low-key monthly gatherings in one of their stunning open spaces.

It started with Bernie and Ella Dougherty, who moved to SouthPointe Village from North Carolina in August 2022. During their daily routine, they would encounter other new Residents in the elevator, lobby, garage, and other places.

Bernie explains, “Everyone greeted each other but really had not formally met, so the notion occurred to me that it might be useful to organize a gathering in our third-floor lounge where we could all introduce ourselves and begin to get to know one another in a social setting.” He placed a flyer in each Resident’s mailbox announcing a date and time and extended an invitation. They were asked to bring their beverage of choice, along with a snack or appetizer to share.
The response was overwhelmingly positive. During the first gathering, contact information was exchanged, as well as potential interest in various card games. “The rest is history,” says Bernie.

Across the way on the Manor Campus is The Vistas, a community that was also brand new just five years ago. Residents there chose this fifth anniversary to celebrate the deep friendships that have grown over the years, gathering on a brilliant September evening at The VUE, the open-air rooftop lounge at The Vistas, to share food, drink, memories, champagne, and cake. They also posed for a group photo.

After a champagne toast, Barbara Czepukaitis led the group in singing “Auld Lang Syne.” She explains why this song was appropriate for the occasion. “Of course we sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ on New Year’s Eve, but it is also an age-old tradition in England, Scotland, and Wales. It is a thank-you and tribute to friends and family everywhere that they may have a happy and healthy New Year. But since we were celebrating our five years together as a ‘family’ at The Vistas, it seemed appropriate to me to toast our friends, and also those who have passed, with this song. ‘Forever may we remember our times together.’”

Vistas Residents continue to look forward. “It’s a new life,” Barbara says. “It’s a new generation, and Willow Valley Communities is a wonderful place for all of us to be.”

Her husband, Vince, concurs. “We have a group of caring and compassionate people who have become more like an extended family, more than what any one of us could have imagined.”

And at Willow Valley Communities, when one of our own needs support in challenging times, Residents are also there in full force. Vistas Resident Yash Amin’s beloved wife, Rita, passed away in March 2022. Rita loved social gatherings very much and had them often, inviting her many friends. She would refer to them as “get-togethers.”

Yash explains that the way Rita would have a get-together was she would arrange to serve “the best food, the best drinks, to the best friends.” So he, along with many Willow Valley Communities Residents, coordinated a get-together in Rita’s honor. Not a memorial, but a get-together, just as Rita would have arranged. The best food, the best drinks, and the best friends.

“Get-togethers are exactly what Rita wanted me to keep hosting with our friends here at Willow Valley Communities, in her loving memory as I continue with Life Lived Forward,” Yash reflects. “I sincerely feel so blessed for being at Willow Valley Communities and making such great friends here that really care for one another. It’s a little piece of heaven on earth, or something similar!”

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