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Not your average farm girl

Crafter Marie Tungate finds fulfilling lifestyle at Fox Run

Created date

May 5th, 2017
Marie Tungate and fellow residents at a table laden with craft supplies.

Marie Tungate (far right), along with her neighbor Noni St. Amand, put her extra craft supplies to good use by starting a club for fellow residents to create craft projects together.

Until about a year and a half ago, Marie Tungate lived on a large farm in Plainwell, Mich. She found she was too isolated and wished for a more vibrant living situation.

“Sitting on a farm with 20 acres of land is very peaceful, but you don’t get out much,” Marie says. “I had never been to downtown Detroit, and now I have been to the opera, the theater, The Whitney [mansion and restaurant]—it’s really a good life for me.”

Her wish came true when she Googled retirement communities in Novi, where her son and grandchildren live. Fox Run popped up at the top of the list. Marie decided it was the perfect choice for her. Now she lives among more than 1,000 other active retirees and has access to all kinds of cultural activities and social events.

Travel bug

Fox Run organizes frequent outings for residents, which makes it easy for them to take advantage of the arts and culture in Detroit. Since moving to the community, Marie has seen The Lion King, Mamma Mia, and Beautiful: The Carole King Musical

She’s also visited Grand Bend, Canada, to see a musical performance of Canadian legends, and she has gone on a walleye-fishing excursion on Lake Erie. 

Marie says her children and grandchildren are happy she’s living at Fox Run, but she’s become a bit harder to get hold of these days.

“It used to be, I’d have to ask my son if he would be home so I could come over, and now he has to call me, and he says, ‘Do you have time in your schedule to come over and visit?’” Marie says with a laugh. “When I came to Fox Run, it opened up a new chapter of my story.”

Crafting community

When Marie was living in the country, she spent a lot of time scrapbooking and crafting. As a result, she accumulated a great deal of craft supplies that she didn’t necessarily want to throw away, but she also didn’t want to continue storing them in her home. She met fellow resident Noni St. Amand, who said she had a similar problem. They got to talking and thought it would be fun to put their extra craft materials to good use by starting a club for fellow residents to do creative projects. 

They did just that. Now they’re able to store their craft supplies in Fox Run’s on-site creative arts studio. Now the supplies are being used instead of collecting dust. The Hands-On Crafts club meets twice a month to work on different creative projects.

“We tell people we are going to make this craft today, and whoever comes to do the project takes it home with them,” Marie says. “So we solved two problems at the same time.”

Noni led the first craft project, painting porcelain tiles. She had a bunch of plain tiles on hand that were just begging to be decorated. 

“Participants painted designs on porcelain tiles and took them home and baked them in their ovens,” Noni says. “Then they attached the cork backing, which we sent them home with—ergo, a beautiful trivet made by them.”

Fox Run neighbors usually wear name badges on campus, so for their second project, Marie says she showed the Hands-On Crafters how to bedazzle their tags with jewels, stars, butterflies, and other “bling.” Those turned out to be a big hit around the community.

“People were saying, ‘Where did you get that?’ and we had a whole bunch of people wanting to make them,” Marie says. 

The group has also made beaded eyeglass chains, decoupage jewelry, sequined boxes, holiday ornaments, and pearled Easter eggs. 

Members of the club now take turns leading the craft projects at the meetings.

“People can bring their own ideas about what they want to do, and it’s kind of a social thing,” Marie says.

Positive vibes

The Hands-On Craft group is just one of the many enriching activities that fills Marie’s days now that she lives at Fox Run. 

To stay in shape, she works out with a personal trainer at the on-site fitness center. She volunteers in Fox Run’s on-site television studio, which produces several programs that air on the in-house TV station. She is a member of the choir, the happy hour committee, the resident life committee, and the friendly visitors committee that spends time with people in the continuing care neighborhood. 

She also works with a resident philanthropy group that raises money for Fox Run’s Scholarship Fund, which awards scholarships to student employees, and the Benevolent Care Fund, which provides assistance to residents who experience a genuine and unforeseen change in their financial situation (full details are in the Residence and Care Agreement). 

“Here, you are never alone,” Marie says. “I am embracing it.” 

Most of all, Marie enjoys getting to know her neighbors, and she particularly appreciates living in close proximity to people who share her values. 

“It’s easy to enjoy being here because we’re living in a place where most of the people are well educated, and they’re upbeat because they want to be here,” she says.