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It’s all here

Activities galore at Overland Park community

Created date

April 19th, 2018
Resident Services Coordinator Ellen Neyman (center) stops by to say hello to HUGS committee cochairs Fran Wolfe (left) and Bunny Brown at Tallgrass Creek’s Activities Fair. Fran and Bunny’s display included items they collect for the disadvantaged.

Resident Services Coordinator Ellen Neyman (center) stops by to say hello to HUGS committee cochairs Fran Wolfe (left) and Bunny Brown at Tallgrass Creek’s Activities Fair. Fran and Bunny’s display included items they collect for the disadvantaged.

Prospective residents visiting Tallgrass Creek are usually surprised when they first see the community’s monthly activities calendar.   

“It’s an extensive, day-by-day calendar [a recent month’s was 18 pages long] jam-packed with, literally, something for everyone,” says Sales Counselor Elaine Bahr.

All those “somethings” were showcased earlier this year at the Tallgrass Creek Activities Fair, where residents learned more about the array of activities happening around the community. The two-hour event took place in the Cottonwood Room where residents staffed tables with displays and explained their respective interests to their fellow neighbors.

“It’s pretty amazing going from table to table and seeing how active this community is,” says Resident Services Coordinator Ellen Neyman, who helped organize the fair. “There are more than 65 resident-driven activities here that cover everything from gardening to technology to playing the ukulele.”

As a member of Tallgrass Creek’s resident life staff, Neyman oversees the community’s activities and social gatherings. She also composes the lengthy activities calendar each month, which is available online and at the information desk.

The list keeps growing

With the opening of Hummingbird Square, Tallgrass Creek’s newest residence building, many new neighbors have moved to the community and brought their particular interests and talents with them.

Barbara Hise, who moved last year, came with her longtime interest in meditation. After settling in, Barbara started a weekly class for neighbors called Mindfulness and Meditation.   

“I’ve always found meditating to be helpful, and I found others here who felt the same,” says Barbara, a recently retired psychologist. “Our class includes those who have never meditated and others, like me, who have meditated for years.”

Barbara continues to learn about the ancient Eastern practice by attending meditation retreats around the country. She recently completed a three-week retreat at a practicing monastery in Southern California.

Playing the hand chimes is another new activity headed up by longtime musician Jim Niehart. Jim borrowed the chimes from a church that wasn’t using them and hosts weekly classes teaching interested neighbors to play the long, slender instruments.

“I think it’s important to keep doing and learning,” says Jim. “Music offers that opportunity in a very nice way.”

There’s more

Also on hand at the fair was entertainment chair Dick Knapp, who brings outside entertainers to Tallgrass Creek each month. Over the past few months, Tallgrass Creek community members have enjoyed a large chorale group, magician, and local actors group that performs humorous skits.

“We have a great turnout for these events,” say Dick. “We usually fill the room.”

Cochairs Fran Wolfe and Bunny Brown, oversee the HUGS committee, a collaboration of all philanthropic efforts at Tallgrass Creek. As committee chairs, the well-known pair oversees a unique partnership between residents and Kansas City, Mo., volunteer Marcia Merrick. Merrick is an advocate for the disadvantaged and provides 400 lunches daily to the homeless in the Kansas City area.

Under Fran and Bunny’s encouragement, Tallgrass Creek neighbors have been baking cookies for the lunches since 2010.

“We ask residents to bake two dozen cookies each month and bring them bagged to the resident life office on a designated day,” says Bunny. “Fran and I box them up, and Marcia collects them.”

The many Tallgrass Creek neighbors who participate baked a total of 28,790 cookies for the homeless last year.

“It was a banner year for cookies,” laughs Fran.

Residents also donate socks, men’s shoes, clothing, toiletries, and other items to Merrick’s volunteer efforts for the homeless.

Add-ons

Tallgrass Creek’s resident life staff adds to the activity calendar by hosting speakers, seasonal events, talent shows, mixers, and the always-popular, end-of-summer watermelon-spitting contest. All are accompanied by tasty snacks from Tallgrass Creek restaurants.

To be in the know, Tallgrass Creek neighbors refer to the activities calendar, community television station, or bulletin board in the lobby.

“There’s plenty to do,” says new neighbor Nancy Bird. “It’s a matter of picking what you want.”

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