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Hello happiness

Man of many talents finds satisfaction at Maris Grove

Created date

February 17th, 2016
Maris Grove resident Gerry Sorensen
Maris Grove resident Gerry Sorensen

The lifestyle at Erickson Living retirement communities has long appealed to Gerry Sorensen. Some years ago, he joined the priority list at the company’s Seabrook community in New Jersey.

But the wait for the floor plan Gerry liked was longer than he preferred. So eight years ago on a trip from his Florida retirement home to visit his children in Staten Island, where he also maintains an address, Gerry stopped at Maris Grove, Erickson Living’s community in Delaware County, Pa. 

He was simply exploring; Gerry didn’t intend to move.

But Maris Grove’s rolling hills, its on-site medical center, its entrance deposit, and its woodshop were among the amenities that changed his mind. 

Then and there, he reserved the last available apartment in the just-completed Marshall Landing residence building. 

On his return to Florida, he sold his house and motor home, and he bid goodbye to vacationing two months each year in a caravan of 23 other motor homes.

“I’m glad I did it,” Gerry says. 

He’s made scores of new friends and is involved in a number of projects. His children live within a comfortable driving distance, and his second bedroom/project room accommodates his daughter’s twice-monthly visits.

Key to happiness

After he moved, Gerry noticed that residents who made friends and got involved with activities were happy people. “And they seemed to get even happier,” he says. “So I participate.”

Does he ever! Gerry fills his days with interesting, creative, and neighborly pursuits.

Since the monthly campus paper NeighborNews published it first issue, Gerry has been its staff photographer. He’s earned photo credits in the Tribune as well.

Gerry posts new resident contact information in NeighborNews.  And he compiles mini-size complete directories for residents who chair some of Maris Grove’s 180-plus activities; more than 1,400 people live at Maris Grove.

His most appreciated project might be his recycling effort. Menus change every day in Maris Grove’s restaurants. Rather than disposing of them, Dining Services saves them for Gerry.

At his in-home project room, he cuts and glues the menus into various sized memo pads. Residents love these free-for-the-asking tablets. Gerry can also supply complimentary pens because a former student of his who owns a company that personalizes pens for businesses sends Gerry boxes of misprints. 

But his photographic and office supply projects pale in comparison to his real love—woodworking. A former shop teacher, he first learned the skill in his father’s basement workshop.

The great room of Gerry’s apartment home displays numerous examples of his woodworking talent. One item, a toy car, is completely childproof. “Everything moves,” Gerry says. “The driver hops up and down, but there are no removable parts.” 

He does his woodworking in the campus woodshop, but that’s not the real reason he’s a woodshop member. 

“I like helping people learn to do woodworking rather than make things myself,” he says. 

‘Should you need it, help is right here’

Last spring, Gerry experienced firsthand the amenity he says is the most important reason to live at Maris Grove: His doctor is a Maris Grove physician who practices in the on-site medical center.

Gerry saw his doctor because of a cough. “My doctor didn’t like the way it sounded,” he says, “and within ten minutes I was in the ambulance.” 

His electronic medical records were already there when he arrived at the hospital; Gerry was diagnosed with double pneumonia.

After summoning the ambulance, Maris Grove’s security team had alerted Carol McGowan, Maris Grove’s acute care coordinator. She in turn contacted the hospital. 

McGowan tracks residents’ care throughout a hospital stay and issues daily confidential reports to Maris Grove’s medical center. The teams work together with the goal of having all the supports in place to ensure residents a safe and smooth transition back to independent living in the community. 

With an established process to deal immediately with residents’ emergency care, neither Gerry nor his children were faced with making decisions under pressure. “That took a load off our minds for sure,” Gerry says.

After a two-week hospitalization, Gerry did two weeks of rehabilitation at Maris Grove’s on-site rehabilitation and continuing care neighborhood. 

His experience reinforced the wisdom of moving to Maris Grove. “Should you need help,” Gerry says, “It’s right here.”