Life at Riverbrook is busy. Art classes, riding lessons, yoga workshops, working in the community, volunteering and more; each day is full of hustle and bustle. But for many of us, there comes a time in life when we want to slow things down and enjoy a more relaxed pace. Longtime Direct Care Staff Anne Roy understood this innately — she herself is semi-retired now — and she worked with Day Program Director Colleen Powers to craft a new kind of day program for Riverbrook’s active seniors and others who enjoy a more tranquil experience.
For those women who prefer a quieter, slower paced program, the Riverbrook Social Club has been a perfect solution. Five days a week, members join together in a variety of low-key activities, from card games to nature walks. They discuss current events while browsing together in downtown shops; over lunch at a local cafe, they talk over news of a more personal nature, including everything that’s happening at Riverbrook.
“Women who come to Riverbrook often have long tenures here,” says Executive Director Rebecca Amuso Wendell. “Some of the women in this program have lived here for 30 years or more.” The Social Club, she says, allows these mature women to experience living a full and active life at a gentler pace. Other, younger women have also chosen this low-key programming.
“We visit the Turn Park Art Space, Diana Felber Gallery, Shaker Mill Books, Hotchkiss Gallery, and Flourish, all in West Stockbridge,” says Anne. “Hang for a bit in the Floor Store Garden and watch the fish in the Williams River below. When good weather comes we go for walks in the towns of Stockbridge, West Stockbridge, Lee and Lenox and poke around in their eclectic shops and have a coffee. On a cold or rainy day we would go to the Bookloft and browse, or to the Red Lion Inn, where we take the elevator up to the 4th floor and walk through the halls looking at all the pictures and antiques as we wind our way down to the first floor.”
Members of the Social Club have joined up with the Stockbridge Senior Center for activities like Bingo and Tai Chi, where they have forged many friendships. They participate in Council on Aging Luncheons. They love to visit the library in Stockbridge, but also in Lee, Great Barrington and Pittsfield, and they look forward to the big library book sales each year. When bad whether keeps them in, the group enjoys card games and reading aloud from the large print edition of the Reader’s Digest.
Time may be the greatest gift of the Social Club — time to enjoy each other’s company and deepen decades-long friendships, and time to help and support each other. Over the winter, one member took on a special project, helping to add braille labels to another member’s entire summer wardrobe. “Mary labored over the hundreds of tags,” Anne says, “and with help from her trusty magnifying glass correctly paired all the summer clothes. She proudly gave all these newly-labeled clothes to her friend on Christmas morning. The gift of Mary’s time will help her friend be more independent. Doing for others helps us all remember we are in it together.“