When Laurie Phillips, personal moving consultant at Brooksby Village, sat down to plan her very first follow-up breakfast with the community's newest residents, she began to see connections forming on the page.
"I hosted the first follow-up breakfast in mid-2015," says Phillips. "As I looked over the list of residents who had recently moved to Brooksby, I noticed several of them had ties to Maine."
In the follow-up breakfast, Phillips checks in with new neighbors shortly after they move to the community.
"Even though the sales process is complete, we want to circle back with our newest residents to find out how they're doing," says Phillips. "The follow-up breakfast allows us to ask about their move-in experience, to see what went well and what needs improvement. It also gives new residents the opportunity to meet others who are new."
That social component occupied Phillips' thoughts as she drew up a seating chart for the first breakfast.
"I seated four couples together who moved to Brooksby within a few months of each other," says Phillips. "I also invited one other resident, Connee Turcotte, who moved to Brooksby in 2013 from Cape Elizabeth, Maine."
The four couples—Harvey and Marsha Forman, Bill and Betty Macaulay, Arthur and Beverly Shepard, and Bob and Mary Wolf—along with Connee, formed a friendship that day.
"The breakfast was over, and they were still sitting at the table, talking and exchanging phone numbers," says Phillips.
The Shepards and Wolfs both own summer cottages in Maine. Bill Macaulay's parents retired to Maine, and the Formans enjoyed traveling to Kennebunkport.
"Laurie seated us together because of our connections to Maine, and our friendship grew from there," says Arthur. "It eased the transition to Brooksby because we met other people in the same situation as us."
Mary Wolf agrees.
"Having this group of friends to lean on made all the difference in the world for me as I adjusted to the move," says Mary. "It was comforting to see their friendly faces around campus."
The candy shop connection
Phillips herself has a special connection to the group.
Connee's late husband's aunt, Blanche Turcotte Jacques, owned a candy shop on Lisbon Street in Lewiston, Maine, the same town where Phillips' father grew up.
"My father remembers the candy shop and the big copper kettle where Blanche made her candies and toffee," says Phillips, who's from South Portland. "Connee inherited that kettle and brought it with her to Brooksby. It was neat to discover we had a shared piece of history."
Arthur, also a native of Lewiston, was excited to hear Connee's story. His uncle owned a clothing store next to the candy shop.
"You realize the truth in the saying, 'It's a small world,'" says Arthur.
A few weeks after their follow-up breakfast, Connee invited the four couples to her apartment for a glass of wine before dinner.
Soon, the group was meeting once a month for a meal in one of Brooksby's private dining rooms.
"We learned about each other's families, children, and what was going on in each of our lives," says Mary. "The friendship deepened, and we care very much for each other."
Bill Macaulay, for his part, says he values having friends you can rely on.
"We've become each other's core group," he says. "If we need something, we call. We take care of each other."
Aside from their standing monthly dinner date, members of the group will often gather more informally.
"Sometimes we'll go out for Chinese food," says Arthur.
They also see each other in groups and activities around campus.
"Mary and I both belong to the Afghan group and the Heart Ladies here at Brooksby," says Betty.
Phillips continues to host a follow-up breakfast on the last Friday of each month, where she facilitates connections among new residents.
"The breakfast gives them the opportunity to get to know each other," says Phillips. "We've seen some great friendships develop."