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Acting out

Maris Grove commercials feature real residents

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January 12th, 2017
Maris Grove shuttle driver Joe Boyle escorts resident Mary Welch through machine-generated rain during the filming of a commercial about the Erickson Living community in Bucks County, Pa.

Maris Grove shuttle driver Joe Boyle escorts resident Mary Welch through machine-generated rain during the filming of a commercial about the Erickson Living community in Bucks County, Pa.

With its lively and engaged population of 1,400 people, something exciting happens every day at Maris Grove, Erickson Living’s retirement community in Delaware County, Pa.

George and Tina Lewis, who moved there in 2009 from Rutledge, are often in the midst of it. 

From volunteers to pros

This summer, when a film crew from Erickson Living’s corporate offices filmed television commercials about Maris Grove to run on Philadelphia-area TV stations, the actors, including George and Tina, were Maris Grove community members.

George and Tina are longtime volunteers at Maris Grove’s in-house TV station, MGTV. He operates a camera; she’s an on-air host. So when the casting call came for the commercial, Tina was intrigued. 

“We know how things work at our TV studio,” she says. “Then we saw how the pros do it. ” 

The shoot involved lots of standing around and waiting, and many, many takes. “It took about three hours to film a 30-second commercial,” says George. “It was a long day but done beautifully, and it was fun to a part of this.”

Community members appreciated the crew’s professionalism, patience, and sense of humor.

Commercial highlights

The filming comprised several different scenes, each featuring a different amenity, location, or activity at Maris Grove. 

One scene highlighted the community’s shopping shuttle, convenient for rainy-day errands. Other scenes featured the campus aquatics center, Grove Pub, a wedding anniversary celebration, and the annual holiday toy collection and wrapping party.

“We even got paid,” says Tina. “We all got a piece of the anniversary cake.”

Besides cameras, the crew brought clothing in different sizes and film-friendly colors. 

And they brought something else. “I felt glamorous; I felt like a star because the crew did our makeup,” says Mary Welch.

Mary’s close-ups show her departing Maris Grove’s shuttle on a rainy day courtesy of the crew’s rainmaking equipment. Mary stayed dry because shuttle driver Joe Boyle sheltered her under an umbrella as he escorted her from the shuttle. 

Mary had never experienced anything resembling a film session. But she knew about them because when her late son studied communications technology, he filmed commercials as part of his course work. 

“He’d come home and tell me about it,” says Mary, “and I thought then, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun to be in a commercial?’ “But I never expected it to really happen.”

Imagine, making TV commercials at a retirement community! In reality, people who move to Maris Grove pursue a new lifestyle. They can reinvent themselves if they choose. They only retire from worries and house maintenance. 

Besides volunteering at MGTV, the Lewises often volunteer at Rose Court, Maris Grove’s rehabilitation and continuing care neighborhood. As a member of the Resident Advisory Council, Tina acts as a liaison with the on-site neighborhood.  

Because of their generosity, “We get invited to all of Rose Court’s fun activities,” Tina says, “the monthly birthday parties, sweetheart dinners, and happy hours. We’re over there a lot.

“We’re giving people,” she adds. “It does our hearts good to give back this way.” 

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