A Family Tradition
When Kendal-Crosslands Communities was founded back in 1973, our goal was to help transform the experience of aging for the better. We’re very proud of our community, and one of the unique things about us is that many current residents are children and grandchildren of original founding members of the community. We had a chance to sit down with a few residents that have these sort of enduring ties to the community- Sylvia Savery, her brother, Joe and his wife Deb, all current residents at Crosslands, The Saverys also have another special tie to the community – Crosslands currently sits on property that used to belong to their family!
Joe remembers going to Ellerslie, the original family farmhouse that is still in use here at Crosslands, as a child. Family celebrations and get-togethers were held there, much like community celebrations are held in Ellerslie now by members of the Community. Sylvia and Joe’s maternal Grandmother, Sylvia Ballou, was one of the Founding Residents at Crosslands. Crosslands has literally been in their family for generations- first as a family gathering location at a cousin’s home, and now as a retirement community of choice for generations of Saverys.
Sylvia Savery moved to Crosslands about two years ago. Joe and Deb Savery joined her this past Spring, after the pandemic started.
Working Here, and Then Living Here
Joe worked for Kendal-Crosslands for 42 years, as the Director of Social Services and later ran the IT Department for Kendal Corporation. Joe retired a couple of years ago, and he and Deb moved from their large home to a lovely apartment in West Chester, where Deb continued to work as an accountant. This past Spring, as the pandemic started in earnest, it confirmed for both of them that it was time to make the move to Crosslands.
“We had a great apartment and loved everything about downtown West Chester,” Deb said, “But with all the young millennials around, it was clear that it wasn’t the safest environment during a pandemic. Joe had had a mild stroke, and we were hesitant to leave our apartment to even shop. Our daughter and son-in-law were delivering groceries and we decided it was just time to make the move.”
Sylvia, Joe’s sister, had already been living in Crosslands for the past two years. “I didn’t really have to look anywhere else for where I wanted to retire. Our mom was here until 2016… Mom and Dad lived in Cartmel [one of Kendal’s 50+ communities] for years before moving to Crosslands. But when I decided it was time, I only wanted to move once, so I chose Crosslands.” “And,” she added a little later, ”It’s even more fun now that Joe and Deb are here as well.”
We asked them how they chose between Kendal at Longwood and Crosslands. Sylvia and Joe said it felt very much the same to them as when their grandmother and Mom and Dad were there, but the two campuses seem to have a different culture. “Some people say [Kendal at Longwood] is more Quakerly, and some people say Crosslands is more fun- or at least has more people who like wine.” It’s clear, however, that people seem to self-select what’s best for them, and the community helps reinforce the values of community and connection. “I was just amazed at how nice everyone was. When a neighbor had surgery, everyone pitched in to get her mail and walk her dogs- it’s just that kind of place where everyone looks out for each other.”
Making the Decision
Joe and Deb have a daughter and two grandchildren who live close by. “Deb used to say “I’ll leave my home feet first”, Joe said, describing her reluctance to think about moving to Crosslands. Deb then had a number of years where she helped care for her father who was in a nursing home, and it was difficult and expensive. “After Joe’s stroke, which was fortunately mild, and having cared for my father I changed my mind. This is not “an old folks home” but a community. By coming when you are younger- I’m 68 and still working-it stands you in good stead for later on,” Deb added.
“I often run into someone who remembers our Mom. Even when people get to the point where they may not be very responsive, being in a place where people know and care for you, even without conversation, is clearly a blessing,” said Sylvia.
We asked whether they thought Kendal-Crosslands had changed much over the years, and everyone remarked that the culture was still very much the same. “For all the Kendals, they have different feels but the culture and values carry through,” Joe said. They agreed that compared to other larger communities, Kendal-Crosslands feels like a small college rather than a large university, where everyone seems to know and recognize you, at least by face, creating a sense of intimacy in the community.
What was it like transitioning to the community?
“We had our five year plan in place in our old home, and went through several dumpsters. We took our time to clear things out and get the house ready to sell. Having already downsized once to our two bedroom apartment in West Chester, the transition to Crosslands actually meant we have a little more room here!” Deb and Joe remarked.
“I had spent 30 years in the same house, but I wasn’t a hoarder,” Sylvia said. “I spent about a year organizing and paring down- and the move manager came in, which made everything so much easier.” “The booklet we got with recommendations from Kendal was very helpful and had recommendations for move managers which made the process much easier.” Everyone agreed for some residents, the move and downsizing is more difficult, but that if you plan ahead and downsize intentionally, the moving and adjustment process itself is much easier.
“Even during COVID, the Welcoming Committee reached out and made us feel very much at home, even though some of it had to be at a distance” Deb remarked.
Sylvia added that when she moved in, she was invited to be a part of many things, and had to make choices about what she wanted to do. “I like my independence- I joined the chorus, and I enjoy walking with my friends,” Sylvia said “but it is wonderful to have family here now with Joe and Deb close by.” “I had people come and welcome me on my first day, and take me to dinner the first week. My neighbors hosted a wonderful afternoon tea soon after I moved in with everyone within the two rows of cottages nearby, to introduce me to everyone. It was wonderful, and made me feel right at home.”
We asked them about what the best parts of the experience had been so far. Deb stated that when they were getting ready to move, they had many options and were able to convert their cottage to have a more open floor plan, and upgrade the kitchen, since Deb enjoys cooking. “But during the pandemic, it’s been great just to go on the meal plan and not worry as much about shopping, and it’s been great.” Joe added “Well, the food is probably not as good as what Deb makes- she is such a good cook- but it’s been great.”
Joe and Deb’s son-in-law wasn’t sure why they would want to move to Crosslands, thinking of all the stereotypes about senior living. But their daughter, having seen Deb caring for her Dad, understood immediately. “This just isn’t an old folks home. I tell my co-workers I moved to an Over 55 community, and they ask about all the fun I’m having and think it’s great” Deb said. “And it is a gift to our kids as well, after having seen how hard it can be” when Deb was caring for her Dad.
We asked them whether they thought their kids would also retire to Crosslands, given the family history now for three generations. Joe said, “Ever since the beginning, Kendal has believed that to be a good place to live, it must be a good place to work. As long as that continues, Kendal-Crosslands Communities will continue to be a great place to live.”
Learn More About Kendal-Crosslands
If you want to learn more about why generations of local families and people from across the Country choose Kendal-Crosslands, click below to download our digital brochure to see more about our unique community.