In our busy lives we often soldier on through difficult times. Sometimes that will see us through, but there are other times where our friends, family or community have proved to be our rock of steady support.
Bill and Leonie had just moved into the Jane Mander Retirement Village in Whangarei when their son passed away.
“We were devastated of course, although we had expected it, being that it had been a seven-year journey”, Leonie reflects. It was a desolate time and they were grieving. Then one day Bill suggested they go down to Happy Hour and they began connecting with the village community.
“Well it was just the way we were taken in by them, you know ‘come and sit here’ sort of thing,” Bill explains. “They helped us settle into this place and made it feel like home.”
“Yes, feeling our grief with us, which was very nice, but not intruding on that.” Leonie adds.
The support they found in the village community was one of genuine caring but also provided them the space they needed to grieve.
Leonie recalls, “one little lady who was almost blind, arrived with the most beautiful lemon meringue pie for us. A kind gesture like that money can’t buy.”
It wasn’t long before the opportunity arose for Leonie to take over the Glee Club, a singing group in the village. Having been part of a quartet for over 20 years, Leonie brought her talents and passion to the role. It was her way to give back to the community. “It’s been a great source of comfort, and amusement”, she says. “I thoroughly enjoy it.”
In fact, along with Bill’s monthly quiz, and his new-found enjoyment of bowls, he too has become a regular singer at the Glee Club. “I went down there one day, and I just started singing. Now I make more noise than anybody,” he laughs.
Seeing Bill thriving in the village community has been wonderful for Leonie, “He’s done things here he would never have done before. I’m really quite proud of him,” she tells us.
Since that caring support Bill and Leonie received in their time of need, they are reaching out with that same ‘come and join us’ attitude so that other residents can feel welcomed.
For Bill and Leonie, friendship and support are a big part of life. They’ve had some incredible times and some incredible laughs since moving to the village. They feel fortunate that they made the move at the right time for them and can enjoy the village community.
Leonie says, “there are no strangers here, just friends we haven’t met. That’s exactly how it goes here. It’s a loving, caring community.”
“There are no strangers here, just friends we haven't met. That's exactly how it goes here. It's a loving, caring community.”