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On its second birthday, Tallgrass Creek feels like home

Created date

September 22nd, 2009
Tallgrass Creek s second anniversary celebration, kicking off October 12, will resemble a large family reunion not just because it will feature a communitywide scavenger hunt and root beer floats, but because like family is how residents describe their neighbors. Here s what some early residents three pioneers have experienced at the Overland Park community. They re called pioneers because, like the stalwart folks who settled the Kansas prairies, they took a leap of faith: Even before Tallgrass Creek was built, they decided to make it their home.

No longer lonesome

When Art Hawthorne moved in the first week the campus was open his was the second apartment home to be filled. He says those early dinnertime conversations might have echoed in the spacious Blue Sky Restaurant, so pioneers were welcome to eat together in the community s smaller, more homelike private dining room. Mealtime camaraderie was exactly what Hawthorne had hoped for at Tallgrass Creek. A widower, he found dinnertime had been kind of lonely. He says, Here, you get to eat with different people every night, and they are so interesting. I just love the company. He dove into community life, serving on the Events Committee that he now co-chairs. He also heads the weekly game night events, has joined the Genealogy Club, and expects to sway to the music with the ballroom dancing group this winter. Living here has been everything I expected and more, he says.

Friends for life

The flowers and tall grasses that beautify the community s 65 acres today weren t so evident when Joan Smith arrived in November 2007. Smith, whose daughter lives in Overland Park, moved from Arkansas and didn t know a soul at Tallgrass Creek. But she made friends immediately. Some of the gals I met although none of us knew one another, we just seemed to hit it off, she says. We d sit at different tables in the dining room, but we d talk back and forth all the time. One of the hostesses said we needed our own table. Soon, they had one. The group of eight women, called the ladies of the round table, isn t exclusive. The ladies don t always eat together or do things together. But we re close, explains Smith, kind of like sisters, like we re family. Early on, Smith served as secretary for both the Events Committee and the Library Committee. Now, she focuses on weekly yoga and twice-weekly water aerobics classes. In addition, she has helped start a Trip Advisory Committee to plan fun restaurant outings and interesting day trips. On game nights, she plays trivia. And once a week, she volunteers at the Audubon Market. Sometimes I think I need a day off, she says. But everything about the community makes her glad it s her home. You ll hear a lot of laughing around here, she says, and that is so good.

Making the leap

Betty Hund and her husband moved to Tallgrass Creek the same month as Smith. And even though the community was less than ten miles from where they lived, Hund was apprehensive about such a change. My husband was relaxed about moving, she says, while it took me two to three months to feel like I d settled in. But everyone was accommodating and friendly. And when I started getting involved in activities, it was so easy to make friends that I couldn t help but feel at home. She joined the Library Committee, where she s still active. It s her job to re-shelve fiction titles from A to L. But she more often opts for physical activity. Hund is a walker, outside in good weather and inside in bad. She s also a regular at stretch & tone classes and belongs to the fitness center on campus. That s the nice part I just do what I feel like doing, she says. And I don t have to worry about what to fix for dinner. This spring, when her husband passed, I realized more than ever how glad I was that we d moved here, she says. Everyone was so supportive and comforting, plus I didn t have to worry about selling the house or making a move after the fact. I sometimes think, What if I were sitting in that house all by myself?

Celebration time

Tallgrass Creek is the place to be this month! Beginning Monday, October 12, the community will host a week of special events to celebrate its second anniversary: Monday:Ceremony at the Anniversary Tree in the back courtyard, followed by coffee and donuts Tuesday:Staff/resident talent show Wednesday:Performance by the Tallgrass Creek Chorale Thursday:Oktoberfest with German entertainment Friday: Decorate your Ledge contest winners named at Happy Hour Saturday:Fundraiser for the Benevolent Care Fund featuring appetizers, desserts, and resident art exhibit Call 913-897-2700 for details.