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Two’s company, three’s a club

Charlestown clubs form fabric of fun, vibrant lifestyle

Created date

August 21st, 2012

Author and motivational speaker Mac Anderson once said, Find what makes your heart sing and create your own music. In a nutshell, that same philosophy stands behind the 300-plus resident-driven groups, clubs, and organizations at Charlestown, an Erickson Living community in Catonsville, Md. People will come to me with their ideas and say with trepidation, Can I do this? And it s my job to say, Yes! How can I help you make this dream a reality? says Mary Evans, community resources manager at Charlestown for the last 17 years. Whatever your interest, chances are Charlestown already has a club for it. Interested in trying your hand at amateur radio? How about quilting, painting, acting, or model yacht racing? Everything from books and computer clubs to bocce and billiards groups can be found in the community s 82-page community resources catalog. And if your hobbies and interests aren t listed, it s easy to start your own club. Evans and her team are happy to help. We don t go out and look for things that interest people, says Evans. We let them come to us with their interests. We offer the guidance and support to help get their ideas off the ground. Whether it is finding a space to meet or simply helping to spread the word.

Social life

New research shows that the social aspect of being involved with a club or spending time with a group socially is also good for your health. A study from the Rush Alzheimer s Disease Center, in Chicago, Ill., found that highly social retirees had a 70% lower rate of cognitive decline than their less social peers. Social activity has long been recognized as an essential component of healthy aging, but now we have strong evidence that it is also related to better everyday functioning and less disability in old age, says Bryan James, Ph.D., lead researcher and postdoctoral fellow in epidemiology of aging and dementia at the Rush Alzheimer s Disease Center, in an article. New York native Joy Gould was instantly attracted to Charlestown s vitality while researching her retirement options. I looked at about 15 different communities in Maryland, says Joy. I really looked them over with a fine-tooth comb. I knew what I wanted in a lifestyle, and Charlestown had everything I was looking for. Unlike the other communities I visited, you could just feel the energy here. Soon after her move in June 2011, Joy quickly discovered firsthand how easily clubs form at Charlestown. I was very much drawn to the resident-driven concept, says Joy. It allows people to develop new interests or devote yourself to things you already love. And having staff support is wonderful because it means you have experts who can advise you on how to accomplish your goals. I was especially excited to learn of all the Bible study and Christian women s groups, service-oriented groups, educational programs, and the Fab-40s group for people born in the 1940s like me, she says. I learned about a new program at one of the local elementary schools and decided to help head up the program. I was just amazed at all the help I received to get the group started. I helped the teachers with copying homework and reading groups. It was a first-grade class, and the kids all got to know me and would love to give hugs. A retired registered nurse, Joy volunteers in the pastoral care office at Charlestown s continuing care neighborhood and coordinates the prayer group ministry. According to Evans, the continual influx of new people moving to Charlestown aids in the rapid input of fresh ideas for new clubs and groups. I think many people are surprised when they discover just how many different resident-driven groups we actually have, says Evans. Our residents continuously are looking to explore new ideas and try new things. In fact, some of the very first clubs like the Little Theatre Company, Sew N Sews, and Stich & Chat groups developed as new people moved to the community and brought their interests with them. It really creates this incredible melting pot of talents.

Join the club!

Fruits of Our Labor, an event which showcases a sampling of the community s clubs and organizations, is held each year in Charlestown s on-site conference center. This event is a great way to attract new members and gives the clubs a chance to collaborate and network with other groups and exchange ideas, says Evans. Even with more than 300 groups already established on campus, Evans says she s certain there are still some hobbies and interests that haven t been tapped into yet. We have new groups forming all the time, says Evans. When you re surrounded by such an interesting, diverse group of people, you just never know what will transpire.