Lelia Calder

Lelia Calder moved into her lovely and bright studio cottage in 2015, and still loves it as much as she did when she first moved in. “I looked at a number of different communities in the area, and the Studio cottages at Kendal were the best. The large walk-in closet even allows me to store my electric cart!” Lelia remarked, while showing me around her home. “The space here is perfect for me. I had them build-in a bookcase for me before I moved in, and I have another [in the patio enclosure]- I do have a lot of books.”  

Downsizing with Success

Lelia taught voice at Swarthmore College for many years, and is the co-chair of the Spiritual Life Committee at Kendal at Longwood. “I downsized gradually, from a big three-story home in Mt. Airy to a Cape in Swarthmore, where I also had studio and office space. The transition here wasn’t hard. I was happy to be on one level and I think I moved at the right time, in my mid-70’s. If I were to make the transition now, at 84, it would be harder.”

“In many ways, it is a relief to not have so many things to worry about and maintain. Whenever I need anything done here- a new lightbulb or a cupboard where the hinge isn’t quite right, I just make a call, and someone is here right away fixing things!”

Finding The Right Fit

Lelia's zen garden
Lelia’s Zen Garden in front of her home

Lelia had visited Kendal many times before moving here- she had had friends who lived here, and always felt comfortable in the community. “I did go and look at [a local community], but it seemed much more like a resort, and less about the people, living in community together. It’s the other people here- many from academia- who are interested in exploring life- it’s almost like going to college again. I can relax, study, and explore interests, and find others who share those interests as well.  We’ve learned so much about neuroplasticity – that we continue to learn as we age. The Spiritual Life committee runs three 6- 8 week programs throughout the year. There’s new science about how nature communicates and how we are all connected, and I love exploring these topics in the community.”

Lelia’s children are grown, and one is a faculty member at a Friends School. One is in the area while the other two live out of state. Initially, they asked her if she wouldn’t prefer living with one of them in a ‘granny’ apartment, but she declined. “Here I have my friends, and my community, and I am independent. If I lived elsewhere, I would have to drive to participate in community, while here, I have it all the time. I think many people don’t fully appreciate the benefits of living in community, with others. There are advantages to old age- I’m not interested in being somewhere where everyone is trying to look young- I’m interested in sharing experiences and exploring new ideas with people who want to share their perspectives and grow together in the experience.” 

Lelia's Patio enclosure
Lelia’s patio enclosure

Studio Living With Light and Space

“The enclosed patio spaces here offer such wonderful views and light. You should see it when the sun is out- it’s wonderful. I didn’t think at first it would be as important, but I love the space, the gardens and the trees and how the living spaces are all connected.”

“Living alone can be hard. But living in community is really important- and it doesn’t happen by accident. The studio cottages here at Kendal help make sure there is a diversity of people in the community, from a variety of backgrounds who help ensure that the spirit of cooperation continues. There’s always a pull to the “efficiency” way of doing things- the Corporation versus the Community way of doing things. And it takes vigilance to hang on to the community  as something that originates from the participation of every resident, and then reflects on the community and its values as a whole.”

Find Out More

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