People are naturally social, but some trepidation is normal upon moving into a new community. The residents of the independent living community Phoebe Berks Village have taken steps to make the settling in process as painless as possible.
Every Tuesday and Friday evening, new residents are invited to join the Welcome Table in the Village dining room. The table is set for eight and reserved for the 5:00 p.m. seating, but no reservation is required for newcomers. Instead two volunteer hosts stand ready in the lobby outside the dining room to meet their guests.
Phoebe Berks Village—which includes four stories of apartments as well as an adjacent neighborhood of freestanding cottages and a community center—is home to more than 300 older adults living independently. Despite the size of the community, it isn’t hard for residents to recognize newcomers because everyone’s face is familiar and everyone is on a first-name basis. It’s just that kind of community.
Last year when a grief support group was arranged by the three community chaplains, residents involved realized that a number of people moving in were single—either recently or otherwise—and that inherently more of their new neighbors were at risk of being lonely or finding difficulty in making new friends. They found that many of those new single residents avoided the dining room, opting for take-out meals or dining alone.
Carol Orts and Angie Juckem embraced the task of establishing a welcome table in the dining room, coordinating with Cura Hospitality Director of Dining Services, Mark Olszewski. The idea has caught on and is now a popular way for residents to meet new neighbors joining the community, says Juckem. Originally conceived as a way to make new single people feel welcome, the table also welcomes couples, and is now the jumping off point for many friendships. The table is usually full each week and hosts two or three new neighbors every month.
“We’re always happy when others want to sign on as a host,” says Juckem. She and Orts coordinate the growing list of volunteers and call them every month to schedule the weekly host.
Everything at Phoebe Berks is designed to foster the sense of community that pervades life there. The Harrity Community Center at the heart of the campus is the hub of daily life. While every apartment and cottage is equipped with a full kitchen, daily dinners in the dining room never go out of style, and form the background of the community’s social calendar with special programs every month organized by the dining services team. Ongoing activities organized by the community life department and resident-led clubs and committees see to it that anyone who wishes to can have a full calendar. It goes without saying that life at Phoebe Berks holds something for everyone.
And with the folks at the welcome table, it isn’t hard for new residents to meet and make new friends at Phoebe Berks. In fact, it’s almost impossible not to!
Learn more about life at Phoebe Berks Village at Phoebe.org/Berks or call 610-927-8183 to speak to a sales counselor.