Before he moved into The Gatesworth in 2009, John Lesser took a tour of the senior living community and was immediately impressed with the number of activities and amenities available to residents. “It’s positively amazing—the variety of options they offer us,” Lesser says. “It’s a wonderful way to stay social and active.”
Lesser and his fellow residents have seized those opportunities, participating daily in recreational, educational and social programs geared toward their particular interests. “Whether you like gardening, knitting, bridge or current events, there’s something for everyone,” he says.
A longtime opera enthusiast, Lesser enjoys scheduled lectures at The Gatesworth from area opera companies, as well as organized trips to watch Metropolitan Opera simulcasts. He has capitalized on the interest of other residents in the art form by sharing his recordings and giving tours of his global collection of opera posters in the hallway outside his apartment. “I love it. Some people talk about their grandchildren, I talk about my posters—my paper children,” Lesser explains.
In addition, The Gatesworth has given him the chance to create his own program, which he hopes to start in the fall with another resident, Sue Wohl. “They take note of the strengths of various residents and encourage them to participate and share that with others,” Lesser says.
Through that encouragement, resident Peggy Ross became integrally involved in the senior living community as vice chairman of the Resident’s Association. She plans and schedules entertainment twice a month, bringing in various musical acts and speakers, including the popular college a cappella group, the Yale Alley Cats. “When I moved in, they made me feel so comfortable,” Ross says. “So when I was asked to be part of the Resident’s Association, I thought, I live here and get so much out of it, how can I not give back?”
Ross remains very involved in the local community with The Scholarship Foundation and the Goldfarb School of Nursing, while also taking advantage of all that The Gatesworth has to offer. “I like to keep busy and spend time with the friends I’ve made here,” she says. “There’s no reason for anyone to be bored.”
The community always is willing to develop new options with residents, from Lesser’s opera program to Bob Rieders’ jazz series. Enamored with jazz since he was 7, Rieders created the program after moving to The Gatesworth in 2001. Twice a month, the 90-year-old shares his musical knowledge through his own photos of jazz legends, music collection, concert DVDs and live bands. “Jazz gives me life,” he says. “I’m extending an invitation for everyone else to enjoy it, as well.”
If it’s possible that a preferred activity is missing from the extensive list, residents know that The Gatesworth staff is ready to accommodate any request. “If there’s something you’d like to do, all you have to do is ask, and it’ll be there,” Ross notes. “There isn’t one person here who isn’t kind, sweet and ready to help you with anything.”
The residents always seem to be on the go. When Rieders is not planning his next jazz class, he participates in discussion groups or reads books from the on-site library. Ross takes time out of her busy schedule to seek out the balance and exercise classes or meet up with her friends for dinner. And Lesser attends weekly art classes or takes walks through The Gatesworth’s grounds, enjoying his full and lively schedule. “The people here are so active, both physically and mentally. It keeps you young.”