Breckenridge Village’s beautification program sows seeds of inspiration.
At Breckenridge Village, bursts of bloom are everywhere: Plots of roses and lilies, pots of geraniums and petunias and gardens replete with tomatoes, Swiss chard, strawberries and rhubarb dot the 32-acre Willoughby campus.
Ever since its founding 30 years ago, residents of the continuing-care community have celebrated summer by immersing themselves in a beautification program grounded in community spirit.
“There’s so much joy and satisfaction in contributing to nature,” says Barbara Randall, 83, who’s lived at Breckenridge with her husband, Jim, for 14 years. “And being part of the beautification program also promotes a feeling of fellowship. It’s a wonderful way to get to know your neighbors, and a great excuse to be outdoors.”
Preparations for the planting season ahead begin in April, when participants hold their annual fund-raiser for flowers and shrubs (more than $3,000 is raised each year). Excitement for the project builds during get-togethers that give residents the chance to share growing tips and recommendations about what to plant.
“Just about everyone joins in the fun,” Randall says. “Participants range from people who have experience in landscape architecture to amateur gardeners who are thrilled to have the opportunity to exercise their green thumbs.”
The green space that’s ultimately created sets the scene for a variety of special events throughout the year, including a late-summer Pot Party, where residents enjoy the fruits of their labors, along with cake and punch.
“Contrary to the name, there’s nothing psychedelic about the party,” Randall says with a laugh, “except the feelings of happiness we experience sharing our work with others.”
That ambiance of goodwill continues through every aspect of the community. As a member of Ohio Presbyterian Retirement Services, Breckenridge Village adheres to the Eden Alternative, a lifestyle philosophy created by noted New York geriatrician William Thomas in 1991.
It’s a viewpoint, explains Debora Erksa-Adams, Breckenridge Village’s director of life enrichment and cultural arts, that promotes innovative programs and services designed to create living, growing communities through physical, mental, emotional and spiritual connection. The end result: Residents thrive through companionship, spontaneity and the opportunity to give as well as receive.
“One of the most rewarding aspects of the beautification program,” Erksa-Adams explains, “is that participants can add their own special personal touch to their surroundings. And we all prosper from what metaphorically blossoms from that: friendships, camaraderie and social connection.
“The common thread,” she adds, “is the community built from that beauty.”