It’s getting close. Shillman House on the Weinberg Campus is moving along—construction is well over 90% complete (on time, on budget with extraordinary quality—Dellbrook Construction has been wonderful). So I recently spent three Sundays (along with our top notch Shillman team) conducting tours of the building-in-progress for people who have put down reservation deposits for the market units. As always, whenever I interact with residents and/or potential residents, I learn a lot.
First, JCHE housing is so desirable. Shillman is particularly beautiful with granite countertops and maple cabinetry, and there is nothing like stepping into a brand new place. But what is really important is that 10,000 square feet of space is devoted to common living areas—the collective living/dining room/den if you will. The folks that took the tour with me understood that and asked numerous questions about how those spaces would be used, what kind of flexibility we intended for the use of those spaces, and how available they would be to all residents. Clearly, folks who want to come to JCHE are drawn by the rich array of engagement opportunities—with their future neighbors and the community at large. People really don’t want to bowl alone, and as frailty sets in, they can most readily connect if travel isn’t required!
Second, as desirable and right as it is for most of the people that toured, it’s hard to make a move. For some, it means leaving the house in which they raised their children and conducted virtually all of their adult life. Even if it’s moving from another apartment, people coming to JCHE plan to make an investment in their new community and so the permanence makes it a big move. And while people articulated how much the lifestyle that we offer is right and would improve their lives now and clearly in their future, it’s daunting to think about making this big change.
I sympathize with those worries and hesitation. I helped my mother make this move from my childhood home in Connecticut to a CCRC in the greater Boston area. She was more than reluctant—stubborn about not leaving, one might say! And yet, within 24 hours of being in her apartment, she called me elated with the new lease on life. Instead of worrying about whether the guy who shovels the driveway would actually show up this time, and arranging for the plumber, and having the heating system tuned, —she is now thinking about which speakers to invite to discuss important issues for the social justice club; whether, as a member of the food committee, she’s adequately representing her neighbors’ preferences; and when is her next shift at the library where she can recommend books to her “clients”. And while she swore she would not make new friends because she had plenty of old friends and didn’t need them, when her 80th birthday came around 15 months later I told her to invite her closest new friends to dinner—and there were 45 of them!
Once the chores of daily living are removed, it’s amazing what new horizons open up and what dormant interests re-emerge. Please share your thoughts on how we can help our potential residents make that leap of faith that will undoubtedly improve their lives immensely and give all of us the chance togain from their most creative selves. I am eager to hear your suggestions.
JCHE President and CEO