Friday, April 16th, 2021

Shopper Client Stories


An active lifestyle filled with camaraderie

by Cristi Sanchez

These happy retirees enjoy the independence and sense of community at Willow Creek. <BR>Standing, from left: John Barnes, Glenn Campbell, Jim Alkire, Jim Lucas. <BR>Seated, from left: Joan Barnes, Mikey Maier, Marge Barnaby, Mary Penuel.       <BR>            Photo by Michele Thompson

These happy retirees enjoy the independence and sense of community at Willow Creek.
Standing, from left: John Barnes, Glenn Campbell, Jim Alkire, Jim Lucas.
Seated, from left: Joan Barnes, Mikey Maier, Marge Barnaby, Mary Penuel.
Photo by Michele Thompson

The Golden Years - those post-retirement years that every working person envisions. For each individual the vision is different. For some the vision is travel; for others it is relaxing, taking up a new hobby, or spending time in the garden. Then there are some for whom the Golden Years are simply living happily and comfortably in their community, surrounded by family and friends. This would describe the residents of Willow Creek Gracious Retirement Living who recently gathered to share their thoughts and experiences as part of the Willow Creek community.

Willow Creek Gracious Retirement Living  is an independent-living retirement community in Chesapeake that provides residents with comfortable one or two bedroom apartments. It's a pet-friendly haven where residents are allowed to treat apartments as their own homes, painting and customizing them to make their spaces comfortable, inviting, and familiar.

Creating a familiar retreat is important to residents making the first-time transition from a single family home to apartment living in a retirement community. Mikey Maier, a long-time Willow Creek resident, did not know what to expect when making the transition. "It turned out there was nothing to be afraid of," she states in a quiet, gentle voice. "I'm very happy here."

John and Joan Barnes, married for 66 years, have been at Willow Creek since the doors opened in 2016.

"Sometimes I miss my tools and my old workshop," John reflects

"But I do not miss my kitchen!" Joan interjects with a laugh.

While the transition process can seem daunting, Mary Penuel, a resident since 2016, is quick to provide encouragement and hope to any prospective residents making the change to retirement community living. "I think people should realize that no matter where you go, there's an adjustment period. Eventually, though, you do settle in. I couldn't have found a better place!"

The group nods in agreement. Despite their different backgrounds and the different circumstances that brought them to Willow Creek, they are in total agreement about one thing: they adore Glenn and Valerie Campbell- the managers of Willow Creek. 

"Every single person here is made to feel special," John states with conviction."

"That's true," agrees Marge Barnaby, another resident since 2016. "Glen even took me to urgent care once!"

At once, glowing testimonials begin to flow of  how the Campbells devotedly see to the needs of their residents. Whether walking a winded resident with a prior history of pneumonia safely to their apartment, waiting up for one to return from a relative's house, picking up prescriptions, or simply bringing a fresh, yellow banana to the door of a resident who found the breakfast bananas too brown for her taste, all in the group agree that they couldn't be in better hands.

"The entire staff does a great job," Jim Alkire, a resident of 15 months, insists. "They're all very supportive."

Besides the security of having its caring managers on duty twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, Willow Creek also provides a great sense of community and plenty of activities for its residents.

"It's great to have
the independence we have here.
We can do what we want,
go where we want...
It's a lifestyle here,
and I love it!"

- Marge Barnaby

"There's always something going on for our residents," Valerie states with a smile. "We have our first Relay for Life event coming up next month. So many have expressed an interest to participate. It's going to be great fun!"

Besides that event, Willow Creek also organizes daily exercise classes, holiday activities, and outings for shopping and dining and to places from Monticello to the beach.

With all the activities organized at Willow Creek, residents can pick and choose what to do on any given day.

"It's great to have the independence  we have here," Marge declares happily. "We can do what we want, go where we want, stay in our rooms if we want, or just come here to the library and read all these lovely books. It's a lifestyle here, and I love it!"

All of the residents were particularly fond of this year's Valentine's Day celebration dinner.

"We had a candlelight dinner with lobster on Valentine's Day!" Marge bubbles with enthusiasm. "Oh, it was delicious! Everything was so beautiful!"

"I'd never had lobster before that," Mary adds with a sweet smile. "I loved it!"

They also enjoy the Sunday brunch for residents and their families held at the end of each month. "My grandson loves the ice cream machine," John laughs. "He runs to it each time he comes!"

The easy camaraderie among the group illustrates a key aspect of living at Willow Creek that sets the facility apart- community. Spry, charming, and witty, the small group talks and banters with one another as they would with family members or the closest of friends. Although they all have family nearby, they have also found community and family in each other.
"We're an extended family here," Jim Lucas states as heads nod in agreement.
"As you can tell from this group, it's a very happy family," Joan agrees.

Willow Creek’s beautiful dining room where residents can enjoy meals together. <BR>Photo by Michele Thompson

Willow Creek’s beautiful dining room where residents can enjoy meals together.
Photo by Michele Thompson

"Definitely!" Marge interjects.

Mary shares her observation on the way in which new residents are welcomed: "I once thought that it would be hard to come in as someone new, but I'm amazed at how quickly new residents become absorbed into this big family."

"That's true," Marge adds. "It doesn't take long."

Management conscientiously informs residents to be on the lookout for incoming new neighbors, and both take the time to ensure new residents are made to feel accepted and welcome. "People are always greeted immediately and everybody makes them feel at home right away," Jim states.

"Yes," Joan interjects. "As soon as you get here you find you have friends."

Within the walls of Willow Creek Gracious Retirement Living community, those friends soon become a part of an extended family that happily shares meals, activities, laughter, and fun.

Willow Creek

516 Great Bridge Blvd
Chesapeake, VA 23320