A few years ago Don Da Ros and a friend of his offered a series of free poetry readings here at Providence Place. So when he was looking for just the right independent living retirement community to settle on, it was natural this one sprang to mind. Its atmosphere had always struck him as both “inclusive” and welcoming” he said, and since his move-in, “I have not been disappointed.”
What has surprised him is the degree to which he is enjoying community living. “The details of community living were abstract to me,” he explained. “Some of the people here are modeling for me what community living and this stage of life can be like. They model joyfulness despite, in some cases, their limitations. Simply put, there is a caring energy among residents and staff.”
While Don enjoys mixing with people, he tends to lean toward a contemplative lifestyle so relishes the availability of the chapel and the time he spends sitting in its quiet. He attends and participates in the poetry readings on the resident program calendar and leads Providence Place’s meditation group.
He says that for him, “Providence Place is the cornerstone of my new life. Embracing this life means trying to let go of the familiar and comfortable mosaic-like pieces of my former life.”
He has looked “with new eyes at the programs Providence Place offers” and has come to the conclusion that “my new home is a state of mind as well as a physical place where I can enjoy the company of others, morning sunrises and evening views of the lights of Springfield.”
For Henry and Fran Benjamin, Providence Place means “having a safe home, and a wonderful meal each day. All and all, ” Henry says, “Providence Place provides the best combination of living in a community. We have our independence and, at the same time, a sense of security. Here people are concerned about each other.” To that, Fran adds, “We love the people here. They are willing to help with whatever is needed. We share the concerns of each other.”
The two met while students at American International College in Springfield and have been married for 61 years. They say living at Providence Pace is “an opportunity to establish a new lifestyle. It offers,” they said, “everything we’d hoped for—even flowers on the dining room tables.” They especially praised the staff, saying, “You can say ‘Thank you’ to the wait-staff 100 times and they will say ‘You’re welcome’ a 100 times back.”
The Benjamins thoroughly enjoy the resident programs and have joined the resident choir. They attend the armchair traveling programs featuring destinations like London, England, and feel the programs offered to residents, especially those on writing and painting programs, “help residents develop their talents and interests” most were unable to pay too much attention to prior to their retirements.
Part of what drew Pat Gagnon to Providence Place was her disenchantment with what, as a longtime homeowner, she calls her “man-jobs.” Though still capable of caring for her former home’s yard and its like, she “just wasn’t motivated to do it anymore. And living in a tourist area finding help to get those jobs done was no easy task.”
Describing herself as “practical,” she noted that “since no one is getting any younger, including myself,” she decided to do what she could to put herself in a position “to age with grace.” That included her considering independent retirement living.
For others at her juncture in life, she advises, “not waiting until you have an issue. It’s important you make these decisions yourself because your kids don’t want to make them for you.”
When she first came to Providence Place making new friends wasn’t on her priority list. “After all,” she said, “I was thinking ‘It’s just an apartment.’” Now that apartment “feels like home” and she finds the other residents “a friendly group of people. The longer you live here,” she explained, “you begin to connect with them in different ways.”
For her, Providence Place means “security without worry, independence without isolation and choices with support as needed.”
Concluding she adds, “Providence Place is the place to find and nurture new interests, and to continue to use your abilities and interests. It’s a place that encourages quality of life, and healthy habits for body, mind and spirit.”