Finding Joy with New Friends at Fox Run

Written by Meghan Streit
November 20, 2020
Allen and Patricia Zondlak say it's easy to make friends at Fox Run

Social engagement key factor to overall health and wellness

We all know that exercise and a balanced diet help us stay healthy, but one of the very best things we can do for both our minds and bodies is to spend time with friends. The idea that friendship is good for us isn't just anecdotal—it's actually backed by science.

Research has shown that staying socially active plays a significant role in healthy aging. One study found that social engagement is closely related to maintaining a sharp mind. The chance to make new friends and have an active social life is one of the many things that draws retirees to Fox Run, an Erickson Living-managed community in Novi, Mich. With over 1,300 residents and more than 100 clubs and committees, there's always something interesting to do at Fox Run—and plenty of other people to do it with.

"One of the greatest things about living in a community is that we can continue to encourage the people around us and to draw joy from them," says Jeff Watson, Erickson Living's director of operations. "In the average Erickson Living-managed senior living community, we have hundreds of peers to appreciate, dozens of groups to join, and multiple causes to fuel."

Making connections is easy at Fox Run

It's not hard to make friends at Fox Run because there are so many different ways to get involved in the community. If you're passionate about politics, there's a current events discussion group. Shutterbugs can hone their skills in the photography club. People who've always wanted to be artists can do ceramics or paint with others who share their interest. Exercise buffs easily connect at the on-site fitness center. Or if playing cards is more your speed, you'll find several groups of neighbors doing that as well.

"Finding someone who likes what you like, living in the same area and about the same age—this trifecta gives birth to an instant connection," says Megan Smith, community resources coordinator at Fox Run. "While working in the studio, you can speak the same language of 'stained glass' to another artist, for example, and you feel understood. Being understood and having connections breeds strong friendships."

Allen Zondlak says getting involved in resident-run clubs is the best way to make friends at Fox Run. He is the chair of the history and croquet clubs and a member of the bocce, veterans, and genealogy groups. He's part of a hockey group that meets every week during hockey season, and the Hot Stove League, a group for Detroit Tigers fans to talk about baseball during the season. Allen also volunteers as a cohost on a daily news show produced in Fox Run's on-site TV studio.

"You can't get bored here, unless you want to," Allen says. "The more you get involved, the more friendships that you develop, and it's stimulating to the mind and makes life much more interesting."

Like many of his neighbors, Allen recommends moving to Fox Run sooner rather than later so you can take advantage of everything the community has to offer, including the opportunities for friendship through the resident-run clubs. Allen says friendships develop naturally at Fox Run because you see your neighbors around campus, not only during club meetings but also at meals at the on-site restaurants or even just walking through the halls of the manicured 84-acre campus.

"You walk down the hall, and sometimes it takes 20 minutes to get somewhere because you stop and talk to so many people," Allen says. It was that friendly atmosphere that attracted Allen and his wife, Patricia, to Fox Run in the first place. He says they visited other communities and didn't observe as many people smiling and greeting one another as they did at Fox Run.

"All the staff and the residents, it's just a great big happy family," Allen says. "It's like being at Disney World."

Resident-run clubs provide options

Over the years, Smith says she's seen friendships blossom in interesting ways at Fox Run. Through participating in the resident-run clubs, college alumni groups have been formed, former work colleagues have reunited, and many residents have tried a new hobby after being inspired by a neighbor.

"Our community is so much more than beautiful apartments; it's a small working city, where people share their gifts to create a community that celebrates life," Smith says. Even throughout the pandemic, Fox Run residents have found safe ways to stay connected. Many clubs started meeting on Zoom when stay-at-home orders were in place and, when the weather warmed up, some groups were able to meet outside and practice social distancing. That prevented residents from becoming isolated like so many people who have spent the last several months living alone in their houses.

"During COVID-19, you wouldn't want to live in a house or apartment complex," Allen says. "This is the place to be because you're so well taken care of. With the pandemic, the importance of being here was truly exemplified—there's no other place we'd want to be."

If you're interested in learning more about the joy of living in community at Fox Run, request more information today.