Looking Ahead: 2021 From the Resident’s Point of View

One of the benefits of living in a community such as Kendal at Lexington is the opportunity to be as active and involved as you choose. On the February 2021 resident panel discussion, members of the resident’s association offered a very sunny outlook for the coming year, despite the chilly and snowy weather outside.

Panelists agreed that being part of a resident-driven community increases interaction, interest, and mental stimulation for those who participate and explore a wide variety of interests. Serving on a committee is a popular way to get involved and enjoy life at Kendal.

While residents aren’t expected or pressured to serve on committees, nearly half of Kendal’s 200 plus independent living residents participate in some sort of committee role. Currently there are 13 committees that include sustainability, facilities, dining, culture and entertainment just to name a few. In addition, there are numerous other informal interest groups, and if there’s an interest you’d like to share, you can get a group going.

Karen Russell admits that she didn’t know quite what to expect when she moved to Kendal in 2010 and expected more of a 1960s Catskill Mountain summer camp routine, but quickly realized that she could choose to be involved or not. Within a few months, she became busy with committee work, served on the board of directors, and most recently worked on the strategic planning committee. “We don’t run the place, that would be a little scary,” she joked. “But in the everyday activities we have a lot of say.”

Committee members often include staff and/or board of director members so that all aspects are addressed.

Staying Involved Even While Distanced

Over the past year, residents have had to adapt to changes due to the pandemic, which meant that many in person events and activities were cancelled or switched to Zoom. Even with these challenges, resident committees as well as the board of directors stayed active in working on initiatives and the strategic plan that many panelists agreed contributed to their optimistic outlook for the coming years at Kendal at Lexington.

In the midst of adaptations and pandemic protocol, Jan Bigelow arrived at Kendal at Lexington in May 2020 as CEO.  Experienced in working with other retirement communities, she says the resident-driven or shared governance model at Kendal is one she appreciates. “As a CEO, I love the resident driven community concept, and we bring it to life here. We all have a say and make decisions together.”

As one of Kendal’s values that focuses on the individual interests and strengths, residents have ample opportunity to influence Kendal activities.

Longtime resident Dianne Herrick especially likes the mental challenge of serving the interests of residents by developing programs and activities. And while many residents miss the social gatherings in the fitness center, Kendal Hall, and dining room, they have creatively adapted with virtual options including Zoom panel discussions and through the closed community portal CATIE web. “Serving on a committee keeps our heads going, coming up with a lot of interesting programs keeps us engaged,” she said.

As plans for 2021 were discussed, the panelists were all optimistic that with the completion of vaccines for residents and eventual relaxation of some restrictions activities will be on the increase.

Positive Possibilities in 2021

Wrapping up some construction projects, opening the newly renovated dining room, and getting a campus medical clinic up and running are some of the top priorities for Kendal in the coming year.

As Phase 3 construction is completed, residents are looking forward to getting the campus looking its best, including improvements to landscaping.

Residents are especially looking forward to the opportunity to dine together in the newly renovated dining hall when social distancing standards allow. Between construction and the pandemic, the dining room hasn’t been used since 2019.

Bringing in specialized health care providers is one of the goals for the coming year as well. While the overall population isn’t large enough to warrant a full-time provider, work is being done to arrange for various medical specialties to utilize the new clinic space on a periodic basis.

Staying Engaged in the Community

While many of the amenities for Kendal residents are right here on campus, the larger Lexington community is as important. Restaurants and other attractions are currently limited, yet residents still get out and about doing their shopping, errands, and taking advantage of the natural attractions including nearby trails.

Many of the residents get involved in volunteering, auditing college classes at nearby Washington & Lee University, or enjoying the Lexington art and dining attractions. The panelists agreed they are looking forward to enjoying more of these activities in the coming year.

For now, they will continue to be flexible and do their part to keep the virus outside the Kendal community.

“We’re going to have to learn how to live with COVID for a long time and learn what our new normalcy is going to be,” said Jan Bigelow. In light of that adaptation, the implementation of the strategic plan that extends over the next five years begins, residents, staff, and the board of directors all feel optimistic about the future.