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Seeking a new life and giving back

Couple finds perfect balance in Peabody community

Created date

April 23rd, 2013

After more than five years in a 55-plus neighborhood in Hopkinton, Mass., John and Sue Evans were ready for a move to a retirement community. They knew just what they were looking for when they began their search. We sought it out; it didn t seek us out, John says of Brooksby, the Erickson Living community in Peabody that became home for the couple nearly two years ago. John and Sue had seen the benefits of continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs), as Sue s parents had called one home in Florida. They knew firsthand the security CCRCs provided in the way of independent living and access to continuing care. We came to appreciate how living in such a [community] not only made their lives better as they moved through the aging process, but helped to minimize the concerns of Sue and her sister about their parents well-being, John told his peers at Brooksby. The Evans also knew the benefits their move would provide for their two sons and their families, who live in Medfield, Mass., and Virginia. They would know their parents were in a secure environment. We had a lot of years observing her parents in that environment. This environment is better than that one, John adds.

Methodical move

As they began their search, John and Sue diligently evaluated their options. As part of their effort to become acquainted with Brooksby, they had dinner with a couple living in the community. Brooksby staff members planned the event and paired the couples based on common interests. Three hours later we separated, and we ve been friends ever since, John says. Of all the people we ve met in our lives, they re one of the couples we value most. The Evans visited various communities, but John says, None of them had the extent that the Erickson Living community [offered] exposure to a large number of people and a vast variety of activities available. When choosing an apartment, John and Sue selected the two-bedroom Lancaster, partly for its circular layout and sunroom ideal for dancing. Inside their apartment home and at monthly Brooksby dances, the high school sweethearts can be spotted spinning and stepping a number of moves, including their favorite, East Coast Swing. In addition to dancing, the Evans exercise regularly in Brooksby s fitness center. They also take advantage of Brooksby-organized trips to theater productions in the Boston area and use the on-site medical services, pharmacy, bank, and country store.

Giving back

As much as John and Sue take from their lives at Brooksby, they are also conscious about giving back. In our whole lives together, we have always felt that we should give back to our community, John says. Not long after moving, the couple discovered volunteer opportunities at Brooksby, where they offer their time in the on-site TV studio John behind and in front of the camera, and Sue as stage manager. An electrical engineer who worked as deputy director of the division of budget and analysis at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and later joined his wife as an instructional assistant, John was approached with the idea of running for Brooksby s resident advisory council (RAC). Members of the RAC serve as liaisons between Brooksby residents and community management and work closely together on a variety of issues. They all have the common objective of making sure the residents of Brooksby are well taken care of, John says. John waited until he had been living at Brooksby a year before running for election last fall. He was not only elected to a two-year term by his fellow residents, but was chosen for a one-year term as chair of the RAC by his fellow RAC members. I m trying to be sure that the Brooksby residents are well represented by this RAC, and I think they are, he says. RAC members meet regularly with Brooksby staff members, who John respects greatly. The staff is very caring and obviously wants to be here and wants to make sure we all want to be here, John says, adding, The staff cares. I appreciate what they do. As he and Sue continue to give back to their new neighbors, John says, There is no place that we would rather be than right here at Brooksby Village.