“A friend is one of the best things you can have, and one of the best things you can be.” ~Winnie the Pooh
“The world could use a friend right now.” ~Friendsview employee
“Friend” is in our name because of our Quaker heritage, but for some residents a personal friend is why they moved here. To celebrate National Friendship Week, we talked to residents who joined our community based on a friend recommendation.
Ann D. is one such resident. Inspiration to move near friends came from her mother, who relocated more than once for the love and support of close girlfriends. Since this concept of relocation for friendship was familiar, it made sense to listen to those who complimented Friendsview—especially the ones she discovered through the Chehalem Valley Chamber of Commerce (CVCC). As the Executive Director for CVCC from 1993 to 2004, Ann met a variety of local business associates and community leaders “resulting in a large circle of friends and acquaintances.” Friendsview residents stood out for their passion and excitement about living in a Life Plan Community.
She grew close to other Friendsview residents through an investment group called WOW—Women Owning Wealth. Ann shares that, “We gathered together some ladies we liked, set up our books online with E-trade and ICLUB and are still going strong with eleven members, seventeen years later!” How influential was WOW in encouraging others to move to Friendsview? “Four of us live in Springbrook Meadows with a couple more joining us once Springbrook Meadows North is finished,” Ann says. Springbrook Meadows North is one of our expansion neighborhoods featuring 28 duplex cottages.
Ann and her husband, Bill, were off-campus residents for four years and their original plan had been to move on campus in the summer of 2019. Bill unexpectedly passed away in 2018. Not long after that a friend from WOW mentioned an opening in the Springbrook Meadows neighborhood. Ann jumped at the chance to live in a spacious duplex home and packed her bags, relocating in April 2019. She admits, “It’s one of the best decisions I have ever made!”
Resident Marvia, also feels that choosing Friendsview, thanks to a friend, is one of her best decisions. While she lived in North Dakota, a friend and his wife not only close family friends, but also spiritual advisors for her. On one trip to visit him in Newberg, he said, “Marvia, you should really think about moving out here. Friendsview is a great place to live.” And the rest is history! Thankfully, Marvia now has other family residing in the Northwest. Two grandkids went to George Fox University and now live in Beaverton, OR and Vancouver, WA. A few relatives migrated to Eugene and Seattle. She says, “I have been blessed and fortunate to also find new friends here who I have learned so much from. And they are just plain fun!”
It turns out that having “just plain fun” with a friend is important for our mental and physical health. According to many experts and organizations such as the American Psychological Association, a lack of personal connections can cause “adverse health consequences including depression, poor sleep quality, impaired executive function, accelerated cognitive decline, poor cardiovascular function and impaired immunity at every stage of life. In addition, a 2019 study led by Kassandra Alcaraz, PhD, MPH, a public health researcher with the American Cancer Society, analyzed data from more than 580,000 adults and found that social isolation increases the risk of premature death from every cause for every race.”
For many though, it’s complicated developing and maintaining deep connections. Polls conducted by the Impact Genome Project and the Associated Press—NORC Center for Public Affairs Research show that 46 million Americans say they have zero to one person they can rely on for personal support. Simply put, for 18% of people in our country a low “social capital” is causing serious physical and mental health concerns. Social capital is the network of relationships that keeps society, communities, and individuals thriving in the same way that finances do for a business.
Some recommend seniors move closer to family members to help grow this interpersonal capital. But what if you don’t have many family members or struggle with strained familial relationships that hinder trust and connection? A concept not often explored is making a move to be near friends, like Ann and Marvia did.
Ann shares, “Having lived many long years, one meets people through a variety of circumstances. Keeping in touch with all of them is impossible, but when an unexpected encounter occurs, the heart jumps for joy! Hugs, big smiles, rapid heartbeat and a quick catch-up. Friendship is the hardest thing to explain due to degrees of closeness, yet having friends during your lifetime, no matter what degree, gives a richness to life like nothing else.”
Ann’s experience reflects what research and experts already know: life is better, healthier, and richer with friends. “My friends are my backbone,” says Marvia. “It seems to continue here at Friendsview (aptly named) as people support each other and care to take care.” That’s a great way to sum up community—caring to take care of one another. Even if it’s through a friendly smile, or passing out flowers from the garden like residents Milli and Becky, or sharing a talent like John, our resident photographer who captures the spirit of local wildlife, plus flora and fauna in the Hess Creek Canyon, through his photography.
L.M. Montgomery wrote in Anne of Green Gables, “Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.” So why not relocate near one of them?
During National Friendship Week, we encourage you to consider where your friends live, or what they have to say about where they live. Also think about if your “social capital” and “social infrastructure” are strong or could use a new friend.
“When social infrastructure is robust, it fosters contact, mutual support, and collaboration among friends and neighbors; when degraded, it inhibits social activity, leaving families and individuals to fend for themselves. Social infrastructure is crucially important, because local, face-to-face interactions at the school, the playground, and the corner diner are the building blocks of all public life. People forge bonds in places that have healthy social infrastructures not because they set out to build community, but because when people engage in sustained, recurrent interaction, particularly while doing things they enjoy, relationships inevitably grow,” says Eric Klinenberg, sociologist and author of Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life.
If you are interested in hearing what other residents have to say about Friendsview’s culture and social infrastructure, contact us today!
Nikki Deckon has been on staff at Friendsview since 2018 in various roles and in long term care for several years. Before working with seniors, she wrote/produced hundreds of talk radio programs and vignettes; was published in a couple of editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul and other print publications including The Oregonian, Kids NW, The Sun and more. After twenty years of marriage, she feels that she’s still in the “honeymoon” phase and is enjoying raising her teenage boys in Newberg, a mere two miles from Friendsview.