May is Older Americans Month and its theme, “Make Your Mark,” encourages and celebrates countless contributions that older adults make to their communities.
In the case of the East Ridge life plan community in Cutler Bay, residents have been making contributions within the community as well as to the external community.
The COVID-19 pandemic has meant volunteer opportunities such as committee meetings have needed to be curtailed due to social distancing. Still, the time and talents of residents continue to be channeled into worthwhile pursuits. They are making their mark while finding creative ways to benefit their community.
A group of five talented residents who enjoy sewing began making masks for staff to supplement PPE supplies and provide to their neighbors such as residents who needed to visit doctors.
The project was perfect for the volunteers. While sheltering-in-place, they could sew in their residences. It was going along well until they ran out of elastic.
“We needed to improvise and started hunting all over our homes to find elastic substitutes,” said Fran Plummer, who organizes the community’s crafters.
Resident Lanie Silny, who is an avid quilter, found all she needed was to watch a YouTube video from Missouri Star Quilting Company. She had accumulated plenty of fabric for quilting and decided she would repurpose it for masks. She serves as a block captain within the community and has been making sure her neighbors had masks.
The time, experience and talents of East Ridge residents continue to make a difference in the lives of the community.
To motivate residents to embrace fitness during the pandemic, Plummer organized a daily walking group. Residents maintain a safe distance between each other, and fellow neighbors are encouraged to get outdoors to exercise. The East Ridge walking paths and streets are perfect for getting in one’s steps.
Living in a life plan community offers opportunities to volunteer that taps one’s life experiences and chronological age is not as significant.
Resident Sandy Dayhoff is sharing her 33 years of experience as a park ranger teaching children about the Everglades ecosystem. She’s now lecturing to her neighbors. Groups can’t exceed 10 people, and outside seating is pre-arranged for social distancing.
“It’s fascinating to learn from her about the Everglades from her vantage point and she’s a wonderful speaker,” said Plummer. “We’ve also launched an Earth Day Every Week initiative, asking residents to pick up any trash they see.”
It’s just another example of how East Ridge residents are taking charge as they strive for wellness, focusing on independence, and advocating for themselves and others.
The history of Older Americans Month dates back to 1963 when only 17 million living Americans had reached their 65th birthday. There was growing interest in seniors and President John F. Kennedy and members of the National Council of Senior Citizens designated May as “Senior Citizens Month.” This was the prelude to “Older Americans Month.”
About East Ridge
East Ridge at Cutler Bay is Miami-Dade County’s only true life care retirement community. The not-for-profit community draws from the neighborhood charm of suburban Cutler Bay and the vibrancy of Miami in a lush tropical setting of 76 acres, located at 19301 S.W. 87th Avenue. The community offers a continuum of care including independent and assisted living apartment homes in a neighborhood setting, respite and skilled nursing care, and rehabilitation services available within Three Palms Health Center. For more information or to schedule a tour, please call (305) 256-3564 visit www.EastRidgeAtCutlerBay.com.