Wherever Harry Beam goes at Ann's Choice, his camera goes too.
Harry isn't a professional photographer, nor is photography his hobby. He simply delights in creating visual journals of his life.
When he and his wife Rosemary moved to the Erickson Living retirement community two years ago, their change of address fulfilled a prediction Harry had been making for 15 years.
Each time the Beams drove past Ann's Choice, Harry said to Rosemary, "We're going to move there one day."
Safety and serenity
The couple quickly adapted from their house of 57 years to Ann's Choice's one-level living, and Rosemary happily gave up cooking in favor of the extensive menus and cooked-to-order cuisine served in the five campus restaurants.
The Beams moved from lower Mayfair, a section of Philadelphia that has become increasingly urbanized; Ann's Choice provided the day-to-day security they desired.
Rosemary and Harry come and go as they like at Ann's Choice without a second thought to their safety. It's a gated community, and the security officers, who are cross-trained on emergency medical response, are on the job round the clock.
"It's so nice and quiet here," Harry says. "We can hear the frogs croaking at night. We can relax here."
The Beams' four children can relax more too. "They loved the idea of us moving here because they knew we'd be taken care of should we need medical help," says Harry. "Before, they called nearly every day to make sure we were okay."
Should he or Rosemary need a medical appointment, they schedule it at the full-service campus medical center; their doctors are Ann's Choice staff physicians with offices on campus who care exclusively for Ann's Choice residents.
"It's so convenient to have your doctor in your same building," Rosemary says. Her bank is on campus too.
Capturing community life
Ann's Choice's beautiful 103-acre grounds, its 150-plus activities and special-interest groups, and the construction under way at its continuing care neighborhood provide Harry with endless subjects to photograph.
He even gleans ideas looking out from the balcony of their two-bedroom, two-bath, Kingston-style apartment home.
In nice weather, he and Rosemary entertain friends on the balcony, sip their morning coffee there, read the paper, or simply relax and enjoy a pleasant evening.
Their home's second bedroom doubles as their computer room. When Harry is up late searching the Web or downloading, tweaking, and uploading photos, he can sleep there and not disturb Rosemary.
He's filled several large albums with photos of Beam family life and his and Rosemary's travels. He posts some of his photos to his Facebook page. Others appear on the community's resident activity website or, because Harry is an Ann's Choice social media ambassador, on its Facebook page.
His skill with a camera has also earned him frequent photo credits in the Tribune.
Photography isn't Harry's only campus activity, however. A gregarious guy, as an Ann's Choice ambassador he talks with and answers questions from visitors at the community's sales events.
A former Naval petty officer, Harry belongs to the campus veterans club and attends monthly breakfast meetings of the ROMEO group, Retired Outstanding Men Enjoying Ourselves.
At a veterans club meeting, he met a fellow Navy man who, it turned out, had served in the same job and on the same ship but not at the same time as Harry. Now good friends, they regularly eat dinner together at Ann's Choice.
While many people move to Ann's Choice from the Philadelphia area, some come from other states and countries. Their backgrounds and experiences make for fascinating stories over dinner on campus.
Sharing a meal with someone you don't already know is an excellent way to make friends at Ann's Choice. The Beams also made new friends on an Ann's Choice cruise through the Panama Canal.
Such neighborliness is what Harry and Rosemary like most about Ann's Choice.
"We're happy we chose Ann's Choice," says Harry. "We're very content, and our kids have peace of mind. People open their arms and say, 'Welcome,' when you go to their meetings. This was one of our smartest decisions."
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