When retirees move to Lantern Hill, an Erickson Senior Living community in New Providence, N.J., residents and staff members work together to ensure that they feel right at home from day one.
Through Welcome Home, a program led by Lantern Hill staff members, and Neighbor to Neighbor, a resident-run group, newcomers find it easy to meet their neighbors, make fast friends, and seamlessly adjust to their new home.
In fact, this warm welcome starts long before new residents reserve their apartment homes.
"When a prospective resident visits, we introduce them to residents as well as some staff members," says Sales Director Brian Cassidy. "We also ask them about their hobbies and interests so we can connect them with other residents, clubs, and activities that they will enjoy."
Current residents who meet with visitors are happy to answer their questions--and chat over dinner at one of the community's on-campus restaurants.
"They often tell me, 'I'd like to invite them to dinner the first couple of nights they're here,'" adds Cassidy. "Our residents help make Lantern Hill the inviting community it is."
Neighbor to Neighbor
Many of the residents who meet with visitors are members of Neighbor to Neighbor, a group that focuses on connecting newcomers with their friendly neighbors.
"Neighbor to Neighbor now has 128 members who are interested in helping new residents enjoy and participate in their new community," says Valerie Marr, who moved to Lantern Hill when it opened in 2016.
Valerie loves welcoming newcomers to Lantern Hill, and her in-depth knowledge of the community makes her well-suited for the job.
"When a new resident moves in, I let the group know," she says. "Members then contact the newcomer to invite them to take a walk around campus or join them for a meal or activity. Neighbor to Neighbor members also answer questions about life at Lantern Hill and provide recommendations for local stores and restaurants."
She continues, "I think it's important for our new neighbors to become active in our community, whether it be taking a fitness class or playing bridge. By finding new friends and exploring interests, our new neighbors confirm that their decision to move to Lantern Hill was a great idea--and a wonderful place to live!"
Dining Buddies, a subgroup of Neighbor to Neighbor, pairs new residents with current residents for dinner. Once newcomers have settled in a bit, Friday Happy Hours are a great way to continue socializing.
"Residents on my floor gather at our corner for drinks every week, while neighborhoods like Maple Glen and Oakwood Court host summer and fall gatherings," Valerie says. In addition, trips to local gardens, the symphony, and New York City are also unique opportunities to meet new people.
"I love how quickly new residents make new friends," says Cassidy. "Current residents are constantly inviting newcomers to try out a club or group based on a shared interest--which helps a new resident immediately feel welcome. I always say that Lantern Hill is the easiest place to make friends."
New resident Elaine Arciszewski couldn't agree more. "It was the right decision for me at the right time," she says. "I met two residents here who go to the same church as my daughter, so they took me under their wings!"
While Elaine has lived at Lantern Hill for less than a year, she has already made an indelible impact on her community--and met many new neighbors through one particular interest.
As a longtime member of the Garden Club of Madison, Elaine knew that the monarch butterfly population was rapidly declining, seriously impacting multiple ecosystems. After moving to Lantern Hill, she immediately got to work on having monarch butterfly waystations installed.
Along the way, she made some new friends who share her interest in butterflies.
"Us butterfly lovers now have a committee, which has helped me make new friends. I was also asked to join the philanthropy committee at Lantern Hill, so I have recruited those members to join the monarch butterfly committee as well," says Elaine, with a laugh.
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