The New Season of Community Life

Erin Weagly, Senior Relocation Advisor, and Barry Sipe, Resident Life Coach.

Moving to a senior living community is far more than simply moving to a new location—it involves moving to a new way of life. An extraordinary lifestyle awaits new Residents at Willow Valley Communities, and in order for them to embrace and engage in that new lifestyle, Resident Life Coach Barry Sipe and his team are available to make the transition super smooth.

Barry’s Resident Life Coach role is a dedicated position that offers support, serves as a resource, and offers a coaching relationship to new Residents so that they have what they need to begin their Life Lived Forward at Willow Valley Communities. Sometimes this relationship starts before move-in. Barry works closely with Resident Mentors and Willow Valley Communities’ Senior ReLocation Advisor, Erin Weagly, and Relocation Specialist, Ali Wills.

Barry’s background in education and counseling makes him well-suited for this role. He starts with a Resident’s immediate needs. “Is it helping to set up their computer? Is it to help them register for an art or fitness class? Or maybe they need help deciding where to dine, or they need assistance with the shuttle procedure,” Barry says. He can help with all those early questions about how things work and so much more. He covers it all.

He tells the story of a new Resident whose dog was anxious about his new surroundings and was barking a lot. The Resident was apprehensive to leave her dog alone. Barry contacted the Willow Valley Communities Pet Club, which offered to find a pet sitter to stay with the dog so the Resident could get out and explore her new community.

Barry also coordinates and trains Resident Mentors. This program is a sort of structured welcome wagon, where Mentors—current Residents—remain in contact with Residents for approximately six weeks after they move in. They will guide, answer questions, and help them get acclimated to Willow Valley Communities and the surrounding areas. They will also introduce them to others.

Barry helps to present at the New Resident Orientation and holds New Resident Happy Hours and even a New Resident Support Group. “These are all ways new Residents can meet new friends and get everything they need to fully embrace Willow Valley Communities as their home,” he says.

Barry’s involvement doesn’t end once the new Resident is no longer “new,” either. He is always available and relishes his role as a resource. He explains that as time goes on, there are more and more things to discover at Willow Valley Communities, and if Residents ever have questions, all they need to do is reach out to him.

Barry is also a resource for those who need help navigating a major life change. “My role is to be aware and offer ongoing support. Often it’s just pointing Residents in the right direction to what they need.” He works within the Resident Life Department headed by Stacy Musser, Senior Director of Resident Life, so he is familiar with all of Willow Valley Communities’ current offerings and services and can easily facilitate those connections.

Barry says that one of the top points of anxiety he’s seen with moves to Willow Valley Communities is getting technology and all things electronic reconnected. He’s grateful for two clubs that new Residents can easily call on for assistance, the Willow Valley Communities Computer Club and the Apple Users Club of Willow Valley Communities. “Both groups provide amazing support to Residents who need help at any level. These are Resident volunteers who are experts in their fields and can help with anything. They even make house calls!” he chuckles.

Barry says there’s nothing that makes him happier than to get an email or a phone call from a new Resident who says, “Thank you for that lead! That was exactly what I was looking for!” Reflecting, he says, “I so enjoy when a need is met and those connections are made. It’s truly an honor and a privilege to be a part of a new Resident’s life at this most exciting time.”

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