Posted: August 4, 2020
Want to know how have a good time right now and do it safely? Just ask longtime Denverite George Scheuernstuhl. George just made the move to Holly Creek Life Plan Community last month amid continuing unprecedented shutdowns across the city in response to COVID-19. While most of the world was isolating and closing down, he and his wife Billie Mae made their huge life change because of a new opportunity to enjoy and explore with others. “Holly Creek had the facilities that we wanted, including fitness and pool and have events and opportunities to get together with others,” George explained. “That’s what we really wanted because while we could do some of that where we used to live, the opportunities weren’t as great, and we didn’t have the same chances to enjoy intellectual things on TV or concerts like we can here.”
Even as their new community has been carefully following all state and federal guidelines regarding coronavirus, the couple still feels that they have already been able to continue living the life they love and explore the options they were excited to discover. The Scheuernstuhls breezed through the requested two-week quarantine period. They are already settling into their new life, enjoying the community restaurant (open to 30% capacity) as well as programming on the internal Channel 22, “particularly some of the concerts, and there was a recent Bible study that was great too.” This is thanks in large part to the fact that the Holly Creek team and residents have adapted quickly and effectively during these unprecedented times. In lieu of more traditional programming, residents have access to a whole menagerie of online and radio options as well as inventive, socially distanced offerings like food truck takeout, outdoor jazz concerts and open-air boutique shopping. “The first three months were hard because everything was closed,” shared the community’s Community Life Director April Henderson. But she wasn’t deterred, sure that the community could adapt to new ways to do the things they enjoyed. YouTube community fitness, academic and spiritual programming replacements all went on the community’s own internal TV Channel 22, along with favorite community movies and artist documentaries. But it wasn’t long before April and her team were also developing and sharing their own, community-based offerings. “We’re doing some really cool things from our in-house radio station HCRK,” April shared. “We do our own weekly Trivia and a “Name that Tune” broadcasts on which we play 15 seconds of a song, and residents call in to guess what it is. We keep track of points and whoever gets the most correct answers wins a bottle of wine. People love it!”
Partnerships with The Vintage Theater, Lone Tree Arts Center and the Arapaho Library District have introduced Cabarets and special arts programming to the mix. Last week, a group of residents even connected live on Zoom with Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love for a one-on-one session about her most recent book and personal experience of coping with loss and getting back into writing. In addition to programming, including airing Sunday sermons on Channel 22, community members are continuing to connect with neighbors and enjoy meals together while following social distancing guidelines and taking necessary precautions. The result? A community that continues to thrive and connect, even if it looks different than before. Katherine Lewallen just joined the community shortly after the Scheuernstuhls, and she too has been very pleased to already feel like an important part of the community. “It was an unusual situation during which I moved,” she explained. While her unit was available for a while before she was able to move in, Katherine came as soon as she could. “The Holly Creek team has been so generous to make sure we have as much freedom as possible while keeping us safe. I see this as the next chapter of my life.” Katherine has received many welcome calls and is quickly making new friends. While she looks forward to joining the exercise classes and the book club when things fully reopen, she shared that “there is a great deal going on right now—plenty to keep us busy.” In the end, it’s perhaps even better than ever before. “I’ve had a lot of residents mention that they like being able to stay engage while at home and that’s something we’ll keep long-term,” April Henderson explained. “Plus, we’re being able to enjoy theater, ballet and opera from across the country, which we would not be able to do before. It makes the world feel smaller and emphasizes that we’re all in this together.” And at Holly Creek, everyone truly is in it together—Together doing things (even if it be over Zoom) and together working to protect each from outside exposure to COVID-19. Many residents choose to avoid outside contact so they can invest and enjoy their community of friends. The reward? In exchange, Lewallen, the Scheuernstuhls and their new neighbors are able to make the most of the incredible online opportunities COVID-19 has provided while still safely meeting their friends in person, worshipping, shopping and even enjoying their own rec center and restaurant—in short, still living the life they love. Located in at 5500 E. Peakview Avenue in Centennial, Colorado, Holly Creek is owned and operated by Denver-based not-for-profit Christian Living Communities. CLC has been providing quality senior care in the south Denver metropolitan area since 1972. For more information, visit www.hollycreekcommunity.com.