Family affair

Siblings and spouses enjoy the opportunities of living in the same community

Created date

June 21st, 2019
Joan and Donnat Mitchell are among the neighbors who live in Linden Ponds’ newest residence building, Willard Square.

Joan and Donnat Mitchell are among the neighbors who live in Linden Ponds’ newest residence building, Willard Square.

Living at Linden Ponds is a family affair for Joan Mitchell and her brother Arthur McNeil. Joan and her husband Donnat moved to the community last August, shortly after the opening of Willard Square, Linden Ponds’ ninth and newest residence building. Arthur and his wife Gloria moved to Willard Square shortly before the Mitchells. 

Now that they’re all living in the same building at Linden Ponds, the two couples are able to get together frequently.

“They are actually just around the corner from us,” Joan says of her brother and sister-in-law. 

Living at Willard Square has made it easy for the Mitchells to make new friends as well. Since most people who live in the building are relatively new to Linden Ponds, they are eager to get to know their neighbors. 

Whether it’s just chatting while waiting for the elevator or at special events like a meet and greet for Willard Square residents, Joan says connecting with her neighbors is easy. 

“We’ve been able to meet quite a few people,” Joan says.

Recently, the people who live at Willard Square gathered at a party to celebrate the first anniversary of the building’s opening. 

“It was wonderful,” Joan says. “We had a nice time.”

Healthy lifestyle ahead

The Mitchells previously lived in a four-bedroom colonial-style house in Dedham, Mass. Joan says that taking care of their house was becoming a burden.

“My husband said he wanted to give up the responsibilities of home ownership, like raking leaves and shoveling snow,” Joan says.

At Linden Ponds, the professional grounds staff take care of all of the chores. That means community members have more free time for the things they really enjoy. 

In her newfound free time, Joan takes advantage of all of the convenient opportunities for exercise at the on-site fitness and aquatics center featuring a heated indoor pool and a variety of group exercise classes as well as individual sessions with personal trainers. Joan takes group exercise class three times a week and has started practicing tai chi. 

“We also walk the corridors here in the winter,” Joan says. “We have actually met a lot of people doing that.”

Joan enjoys going to movies and live performances at the performing arts center. She attends church services at Linden Ponds on Sundays. She also belongs to Linden Ponds’ Great Decisions group, a nationwide program for discussing world affairs. 

“There’s quite a bit to do here,” Joan says. 

Friendly environment

Joan and Donnat are both originally from Jamaica. They return about once a year to visit Donnat’s brother and Joan’s cousins and other relatives. 

Joan came to the United States in the late ’50s and finished high school here. She went on to attend nursing school. Over the course of her career, she worked in acute care, infection control, and home care before retiring in 2008. 

Joan and Donnat, a former news photographer, met while in the U.S. They have a son and two grandsons who live in Brooklyn, N.Y. Their daughter lives in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood, so she is able to visit them frequently at Linden Ponds.

“I know they are very happy we are here,” Joan says. 

At Linden Ponds, Joan and Donnat live in a Summerton-style apartment home, which has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a spacious open-concept living and dining area. Although their home has a full, modern kitchen, Joan says she doesn’t cook that often these days. Instead, she and Donnat leave the cooking and cleaning to the staff while they enjoy leisurely meals with friends at Linden Ponds’ full-service restaurants.

“People have been very inviting, and we have dinner invitations all the time,” Joan says. “It’s been great.”

That friendly environment and sense of community is exactly what attracted Joan and Donnat to Linden Ponds in the first place. They considered other retirement communities but were struck by the friendliness of the people at Linden Ponds.

“We found the people we interacted with when we came to events were very warm,” Joan explains. “We felt like it was a very welcoming community, and that sold us.”

Part of Linden Ponds’ mission is to create a community where people share their gifts. Joan sees that in action every day. She says there are so many talented residents who share those gifts with their neighbors, creating a palpable sense of community. 

“We’re very grateful to be part of this community,” she says. “It’s really vibrant, and you just feel that everybody is here to help each other and keep each other healthy and productive.”