Retirement ushers in a new phase of our lives, filled with leisurely time, new opportunities for learning, and time for family and friends. Finding the perfect place to enjoy those opportunities among like-minded people is not simple.
Featured here are three options in the Sandhills NC area, offering a colorful palette of services and amenities and running the gamut from high-end to moderately priced. In most cases they offer similar basic amenities and services, though each has a singular environment and a distinguishing feel that sets it apart. What they all have in common is an effort to keep up with the ever-changing interpretation of the meaning of aging—and retirement.
By JONATHAN SCOTT
Quail Haven Village
At 83, Dr. Philip Kirol no longer plays golf, but he gets regular exercise strolling the 18-acre grounds of Quail Haven in Pinehurst. When talking about the many things he likes about where he lives, he first thinks of those strolls. “This is a beautiful place,” he says, “very well landscaped and maintained. Just a great place to walk around. And everything,” he adds, “is on one floor. No stairs to climb.”
For the last five years the retired OB/Gyn physician has been President of the Residents Association at Quail Haven. That position has allowed him to get to know most of the people who live in the 82 garden homes, although Kirol says that the atmosphere is so friendly that he knew most of them already. “Like one big happy family.”
Quail Haven Village is owned by Liberty Home Care of Wilmington, NC. In its 40 years, Quail Haven has become a desirable retirement community, especially for those who appreciate its proximity to the Village of Pinehurst for shopping, dining and, of course, golf. In fact, Quail Haven's amenities include membership at Pinewild Country Club.
Lynn Valliere is Sales and Marketing Director. She explains that Quail Haven offers something special, not only to residents, but to the larger community. “We're a Continuing Care Retirement Community,” she says. “That includes independent living, assisted living, and long-term care. But we also have The Inn. It's a five-star rehabilitation center with enhanced therapy services that treats area residents as well as our own.”
Another option in Quail Haven Village’s continuum of care, the Rosemary and Cardinal Cottages provide personalized assisted living services in a multi-residence setting. Within each of these cottages are six private residential suites nestled around common spaces that are shared by all the residents. The staff is trained with a special emphasis on memory care for the benefit of those who need it.
Valliere likes to boast about the folks who work at Quail Haven. “They are amazing. Our maintenance people are ready to be available at a moment's notice if a resident needs them. Our residents appreciate that their lives are free of taking care of things. They can leave all that to us.”
There is something else that Valliere sees distinguishing Quail Haven Village. “We have no buy-in. That means we don't ask for a large amount of money just for the privilege of moving here. We offer month-to-month contracts. For many of the people I introduce to our community, that's the deciding factor.”
Valliere invites anyone interested to take a free tour of the Quail Haven Village, including a complimentary lunch. She can be reached at 910-295-2294, quailhavevillage.com.
It was no less a cultural icon in the history of the Sandhills than Katharine Boyd, widow of novelist, James, who brought the vision of Episcopal Bishop Edwin A. Penick to fruition in the late 1950s. She donated 13.5 acres of beautiful wooded land adjacent to what would become Weymouth Woods Nature Preserve in Southern Pines for a home for older adults. Since then, the senior living community as grown to over 38 acres. The currently planned addition is the 20-apartment Wharton building, named in honor of F.D. and Annie Wharton, the African-American couple who broke the color barrier at Penick.
Penick resident, Bob Darst, at first jokes about what distinguishes the Village from other communities. “We've got a bar,” he laughs. But then he becomes serious. “The most important thing here is love. That was Bishop Penick's original vision and it hasn't changed.” Darst is qualified to know. He's the third generation in his family to retire to Penick Village.
CEO Jeff Hutchins sets the tone of high values for his administration and staff. “We really try to make sure we're mission led.” It's evident in meeting Hutchins that he's dedicated, almost driven, to fulfill the lofty goals he's set for the community. “We have an uncompromising commitment to deinstitutionalize the aging experience,” reads the Penick Vision statement.
The aging experience, nearly by definition, involves many transitions. Penick Village is what's commonly known as a Continuing Care Residential Community or, as Hutchins prefers, a Life Planning Community. That includes independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing care. The responsibility of Penick's chaplain, Colette Bachans-Wood, is to give spiritual and psychological support to residents and their families through the many transitions. “To be in a place where people use words like 'values' and 'ethics' is really unique,” she says.
Meca McIntosh's official title is Care Navigator/Social Worker. “Care Navigator maybe isn't the best title for Meca,” says Hutchins. “She serves more like a shepherd. She's here to help shepherd residents and their families through challenges and changes.”
Many of the day-to-day issues that McIntosh deals with are residents' concerns about their financial status. “It's a relief,” she says, “to be able to tell someone not to worry about finances. We don't turn people out.”
McIntosh is able to reassure people in those situations thanks to the Penick Village Foundation, an organization that secures resources to fund Penick's Benevolent Assistance Fund. This fund ensures that no one will be forced to leave because they have outlived their money.
Currently there are about 250 residents in Penick Village. Hutchins is well aware of what the future will bring as Boomers are aging. “Our goal is to someday reach 375 residents,” he says. “But even at that population, we'll still be a tiny community.” It's clear that, for Hutchins, tiny is okay. He's a CEO who sets his sights on values more than numbers.
To tour Penick Village, contact Wendy Farrell at 910-692-0300, penickvillage.org.
St. Joseph of the Pines
Joe and Alma Gaskill call themselves "halfbacks," even though neither of them plays football. "We moved from Pennsylvania to Florida to retire, but it was much too hot down there. It never cooled down," Joe Gaskill says. "So, we came halfway back." They chose Belle Meade, a Life Plan Community in Southern Pines, after an internet search of similar communities in North Carolina and a tour of the campus.
"I consider Belle Meade to be a community rather than an institution," he says. "People get together easily."
Resident Jo Miller found a similar atmosphere at Pine Knoll, the other independent living community in Southern Pines run by St. Joseph of the Pines. "I came down from Albany in January and fell in love with it," Miller says. "It's a fantastic place, a beautiful place. Everybody watches out for one another. It's family. I can't say enough things about Pine Knoll. It's perfect."
St. Joseph of the Pines began its legacy of caring and commitment to the people in the Sandhills in 1948, when the Diocese of Raleigh purchased the old Pine Needles Inn and converted it into St. Joseph of the Pines Hospital. The 75-bed acute care hospital welcomed people of all faiths, races and income groups. With its commitment to care for people regardless of their ability to pay, especially those who lacked health insurance, St. Joseph of the Pines Hospital served the community for several decades.
In the late 1960s, the Sisters of Providence, a community of Catholic Sisters in Massachusetts, took over management of the organization and began shifting the focus from acute care to long-term care. Three residential wings were constructed on the north side of the building, followed by residential cottages around the perimeter of the 19-acre property, which became known as Pine Knoll.
The shift took a giant leap forward in 1990 when land on Camp Easter Road in Southern Pines was acquired to build Belle Meade. The 1990s ushered in an era of expansion into additional services for older adults.
Today, St. Joseph of the Pines has grown into a full aging service network offering independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing and rehabilitation, health care, and home-and community-based services for older adults, as well as community outreach to those in need.
The nonprofit serves 1,200 older adults – more than half of whom have low incomes – every day across six campuses and five counties.
President Tim Buist says St. Joseph of the Pines has always been about people. "Those whom we serve as well those with whom we serve," Buist says. "Our mission is to be a compassionate and healing presence within our community. For more than seven decades, we have reached beyond the traditional barriers of race, religion and income to serve those in need."
It's a legacy that St. Joseph of the Pines intends to continue for the next 70 years and beyond.
For more information on life at St. Joseph’s, call 910-246-1000, sjp.org.