Summertime and the Livin’ is Easy

4th of JulyThis month we are looking forward to lots of celebrating. A big cause for celebration is the completion of our siding replacement project!  Remodeling is never easy, but having a good general contractor has definitely made things go as smoothly as we could hope. Thanks to all of our Homewoods residents for their patience as we accomplished this big goal. Our beautiful building has been updated and weather-proofed for years to come.

Another cause for celebration is the return of Annie! Annie Gehrke, is returning to Homewoods on the Willamette as our full-time life-enrichment coordinator. She has been terribly missed by those who remember her previous tenure with us. We always listen for passion when hiring, knowing that it is something an employee brings with them that cannot be trained or taught. Annie has passion for her work and for Homewoods. Those who know her are clapping with glee at the news of her return. Those who don’t know her are in for a treat. Please, introduce yourselves and tell her what your passions are. We are in store for a fun and eventful summer and a great year.

Many thanks to Joyce, Robin, and Karen who have kept us rocking and rolling –and organized(!) as we have been without a life enrichment coordinator. Many of the staff have stepped up to cover noticeable and not-so-noticeable activities functions in the absence of a coordinator for weeks, months, and in some cases years. We have a great team.

Finally, we have two big events coming up in June. On June 13th, we will celebrate Father’s Day Homewoods style with barbecued burgers and hot dogs and music from the Oregon Old Time Fiddlers. We love to celebrate all of the great dads who live here at Homewoods. I hope that you will make reservations to attend if you are able. The other big event is our Annual Patriotic Picnic and Barbecue, to be held on June 27th. This is our mid-year lalapalooza. We pull out all of the stops for this celebration of our independence as Americans with barbecued ribs and chicken served outdoors by the river. This year James Clem and Ken West will perform American roots music with a variety of stringed instruments. We are in for a treat and we are living well. Let’s celebrate!

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Wish, Dream, Tell Us What Happened Next

A child's wish (20/365)I am looking ahead to summer already! Steve, our maintenance director, and I have been busy planning and scheduling all of the work that can only be done when the weather is good. We will complete the remainder of our siding replacement project this year… I didn’t hear you cheering. Let’s try that again. We will complete the siding replacement project this year! Hip hip hooray!!!

Though Zee, our activity director, is now off for a couple of months to welcome her new little baby boy, she has left us with several months of activity calendars already planned out. I am especially excited about our upcoming mystery trip and an upcoming country drive. Pay close attention to your calendars. These will be fun.

As I write this I am preparing to travel with a group of residents to the Leading Age luncheon at Friendsview Retirement Community in Newberg during which residents from around the state will be reading their award winning essays, poems, and stories. Helen Reasoner, Velma Stewart, Bert Baldwin, and Millie Gackle from Homewoods have each had pieces selected to be read. The pieces will be published by Leading Age and available through download of the journal called Reflections.

Many people tell me that they would love to write but don’t think their stories are worth telling. Yet isn’t it true that that most of us enjoy hearing stories? I love it when people stop by my office to tell me one.

Last year Karen, our community relations director, and I attended a workshop to help us tell our Homewoods story a bit better. It was an improv workshop and we learned a formula for storytelling that goes like this: a) Once upon a time… every day …. but one day …. and because of that …. and because of that ….and because of that ….until one day …. and that is why… You can try using this yourself and see what happens.

Using that formula here is the story of Homewoods:

Once upon a time a man dreamed of a place where he and his fellow ministers could retire, and every day he prayed about it and shared the dream with others. But one day after the dream became a reality, more people than just his colleagues moved there. Many others came. Because of that the community grew in diversity and because of that many people from the surrounding area also felt welcome. Because of that old friends became re-acquainted and new friends joined them, until one day a brand new community developed that perfected the art of living well. And that is why it is important to dream and share your dream with others.

I am in agreement with what Sundi says in her spot this month, “It is fun, healthy, and entertaining to dream.” May your dreams come true and may they exceed all that you have hoped for. Don’t forget to tell the story along the way!

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Reason for Hope


202/365 -  Light of the World.I can remember hearing my grandmother say, “everything’s going to pot.” She was complaining about the state of the world which, in the 1970’s in southern California, was a far cry from the orderly, hardworking world that she had grown up in on the east coast. I viewed her observation as something that comes from being old. The world starts looking a little worn and stops making sense. I made a mental note: “Don’t let this happen to you.”

But lately I have been feeling like I know exactly how Grandma felt. Things don’t make sense to me when I look around and when I listen to the news. I sometimes feel a little out of step and less inclined to jump on a bandwagon. I especially felt this way listening to the news and events that led up to the Thanksgiving holiday.

Then I decided to turn my attention to what is working, what is right, what feels like home. I love this quote from the book of Phillipians in the Christian bible: Whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is true, whatever is lovely, whatever is pure, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about these things.” (Phillipians 4:8). I see so many things at Homewoods every day that can be described in this way. For example, this week one of our community members stops by with his little dog in his arms, his face all lit up with smiles, and offers me warm wishes for the day. “I like to keep things positive” he says. I felt encouraged by him. I know of relative strangers, neighbors yes, but not exactly friends, who reach out and offer all kinds of tangible assistance to someone who is out of the building convalescing. They do this without being asked: offers to help with housekeeping, meal prep, grocery shopping, even help with expenses. How wonderful people are.

All of this reminds me of one of my favorite songs from a musician by the name of David Wilcox. I heard him sing it right after the events of September 11, 2001 and took comfort in the hope that he expressed. One line in particular has stayed with me. The song is called “Show the Way.”

“It’s love who makes the mortar, love who stacked these stones, and it’s love who made the stage here, though it looks like we’re alone. In this scene set in shadows, like the night is here to stay. There is evil cast around us but it’s love that wrote the play.”

As we go into this, both the darkest and holiest of seasons, may you all hold fast to that which is truly yours, the love of friends, family, and even strangers. It is love that wrote this play.


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The Meaning of Community

handshakeI have been thinking a lot recently about what it means to be a community. Our little community here by the river is more than the sum of its parts. In other words, we are more than 125 individuals living under one roof.  Yet, it is hard to capture what we are in words. Community is a pretty generic term. The broadest definition that I found said, “people with common interests living in a geographic area.”

I have heard people here say, “We are family,” and happily they are including Homewoods staff when they say this. Family gets closer to what we mean to each other, and yet, strictly speaking, we aren’t family.   Miraculously, we care for each other and help each other though we aren’t related.

Neighbors might be a closer description, especially in the “good Samaritan” sense of that word. I am always touched to learn or observe some of the many ways that neighbors here at Homewoods connect with each other. It is both respectful and sincere. Sometimes I wish we could bottle that good will and share it with the world.

And that is the reason I have been thinking about what it means to live in community lately. I think capital “C” community has broad implications for the world in general. I read somewhere recently that the Chinese philosopher Confucius based his whole philosophy of leadership and governance on the principal of kindness. It is definitely one of our core values here at Homewoods.

Another core value is recreation. In other words, having fun. We had so much fun during resident appreciation week. The performances at the talent show went from the sublime piano playing by Dorothy and Iris to the silliness of Don and the Donnettes, and Don and Dar, as well as the comedic performances in Velma’s play. I can’t remember when I have laughed so much.

I am already looking forward to next year’s talent show, as well as many more “gifts” during the work weeks to come when I hear someone reach out to another with sincere kindness, if only to encourage through a difficult time.

We are living well.

photo by: buddawiggi