There’s never a shortage of things to do in the metro area, and passion for connecting with art and music doesn’t fade, even when creative enthusiasts struggle to visit venues independently. The Gatesworth, an independent living community, recognizes this desire and works to connect its residents with the arts and music scene by providing art classes, educational lectures, as well as free transportation and organized trips to various art, theater and music landmarks throughout St. Louis.
“I am fortunate … to go to [places] outside The Gatesworth,” says resident Audrey Friedman. “I go to the St. Louis Speaker Series, the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, the New Jewish Theatre.”
When looking to move from Creve Coeur four years ago, Friedman chose The Gatesworth after hearing from friends who were satisfied by the lifestyle the community provided. “I didn’t look anywhere else,” she says. “I knew it was where I was going to go.”
That sentiment is echoed by resident Barbara Bahn. “I don’t think I could have been as happy anywhere else,” she professes. “I’ve gotten to go to the theater and opera. I have [heard] lectures. There is something to do all the time.”
On Jan. 8, Bahn, Friedman and other residents enjoyed a trip to see the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra at Powell Hall – just one of the many opportunities residents of The Gatesworth have had that allow them to continue engaging with their favorite St. Louis experiences.
“We help them stay independent,” says assistant resident program director Donna Meyer. “With complimentary transportation to art venues, they stay connected and feel like they can still be active in the community. A lot of residents comment that they wouldn’t be able to go without that.”
The independence The Gatesworth provides also allows residents to continue enjoying their favorite activities. In the case of resident Lewis “Red” Mills that means still enjoying the autonomy of cooking on his own in his apartment at 90 years old. “I gave up driving two or three years ago,” he explains. “I use the shuttle service to go to Schnucks on Thursdays to get my groceries.”
For Friedman, it’s the relationships she’s formed that truly make The Gatesworth stand out. “I have wonderful friends who are very dear to me, most [of whom] I have become friends with in the last four years,” she says, adding that she enjoys dinners and outings with her friends regularly, even though she no longer drives herself. “They are very special to my life.”
“Residents love to be active,” Meyer expands. “They’re out every weekend, visiting their country club or going to a different cultural event that is happening in St. Louis. We’re very open to their suggestions or recommendations.”
Residents at The Gatesworth concur with Meyer’s sentiment. “[The Gatesworth has] chartered buses and outings for anything you can name,” Bahn confirms. “They don’t know how to say no here.”
“They’re always friendly and welcoming and are very willing to do what you ask of them,” Mills adds. “I don’t think I could think of anything if you asked me how to improve [The Gatesworth].”
On top of taking residents out on the town, The Gatesworth also works to bring cultural events within its walls, through its own lecture series. In the past, the series has featured presentations from the Saint Louis Art Museum, Missouri History Museum, Missouri Botanical Garden and more. A new series of speakers will be hosted by The Gatesworth in the spring.
The Gatesworth also offers opportunities for residents to participate in the arts. “We have art class twice a week,” Meyer says. “Some of our resident artists have been involved in the Senior Olympics [at the St. Louis Jewish Community Center] and have brought back blue ribbons.” Meyer adds that one such award-winning resident had never picked up a paintbrush before the classes offered though The Gatesworth.
“I love hearing [residents’] stories,” Meyer continues. “They’re a book of information. All of them have been involved in the community and fundraising already, and St. Louis has always been their passion. I hear how they’ve been a member of STAGES St. Louis or The Muny forever. I really enjoy seeing their interest, and I learn a lot from them.”
Through classes, lectures and events that get them out on the town, The Gatesworth sets out to help residents continue to be independent, active and involved in the St. Louis community well into the next chapter of their lives.
The Gatesworth, One McKnight Pl., St. Louis, 314-993-0111, thegatesworth.com