Resident-Led Clubs Fuel Community Connections

On any given day, it's hard to explore Vi at Silverstone without coming across an opportunity to meet someone or learn something new. Whether you’ve stumbled upon an art class, a photography installation or a social gathering, there’s a good chance it was started or inspired by one of the community’s many passionate residents. 
Residents supporting residents

When Pat Rile moved to Vi at Silverstone two years ago, he was quick to notice that resident and staff relationships were the heart of the community.

So, when he was elected chairman of the community’s Resident Advisory Council (RAC), a volunteer group that advocates for their fellow neighbors’ ideas and initiatives, he and his fellow council members agreed their role was clear: “We wanted to make a great place even better,” said Pat.

To support this goal, the RAC created a new committee — led in part by resident Vince Cannella — called The Good Life, to “provide support for residents by developing programs and activities which grow relationships that create friendships and increase happiness.”

Since then, the committee’s efforts to share and connect have become contagious, resulting in a slew of new initiatives and clubs that bring people together.

Vi at Silverstone residents Pat Rile, Bunny Leighton, Vince Cannella and Anne Cannella.
Heroes of Vi at Silverstone's resident-led clubs story.
A neighborly pursuit

One night, Vince and his wife, Anne, were sitting in their apartment when they got an idea: “We should have a block party,” Vince said.

To get to know more of their fellow residents, they invited people from their floor for an informal gathering in their hallway one Sunday evening. It was a rollicking success, and the Neighbor-to-Neighbor program was born. 

The program has since outgrown hallways, now referred to as “neighborhoods,” and moved into residents’ apartments. More than 30 residents have volunteered to team up and host over a dozen events covering 75% of the community so far, and connections made at the neighborhood parties have sparked new friendships and led to additional social gatherings, such as group dinners and outings. 

Embracing hobbies together

In addition to social opportunities, some residents have been inspired to start programs based on their hobbies and passions. 

Anne Cannella, who had an interest in photography before coming to Vi at Silverstone, noticed neighbors taking photos of birds and wildlife around the community and realized there might be an opportunity to explore the hobby together. With the help of the RAC and the community staff, Anne set up an exploratory meeting for anyone who might be interested in starting a photography club — and folks showed up excited and ready to collaborate.

The group meets monthly to welcome guest speakers, discuss photography and decide on a monthly theme for resident and staff submissions. Submitted photos are displayed on a television in the lobby, and the exhibit has become a catalyst for conversations and shared connections among residents — a meaningful highlight for Anne. This year, she hopes to organize the club’s first official outing.

Fostering connection through creativity

When Bunny Leighton first moved to the community, she noticed that a resident art show was coming up. An artist herself, she submitted a few pieces and the rest was kismet: residents started reaching out to Bunny about her work, and Bunny realized there was a desire for more art-based opportunities in the activities calendar. 

Vi at Silverstone resident Bunny Leighton stands with her artwork.

After launching a successful watercolor class, Bunny is now preparing to host an Open Art Studio class, which she describes as a non-judgmental and supportive environment that allows residents to explore the medium of their choice, with support or critique available if they choose.

The staff at the community not only helps residents find meeting spaces and order supplies, but they also help spread the word about the new activity. 

“When we discover a hidden talent in our midst, we support the resident by marketing the program through email notifications, publishing it in the monthly calendar, and adding it to our community’s app,” said Lifestyle Director Curtis Rick.

Bunny’s goal for the class is to help her fellow residents realize that art isn’t about talent, it’s about creativity — something everyone has and can explore and connect over. 

“We all have gifts that we have to share,” said Bunny. “And it gives me joy to give back.”

People make the place

RAC chairman Pat Rile knows that there's a lot that goes into the decision to move to a retirement community, but he hopes more seniors will discover all they have to gain from it.

To Pat, the on-paper benefits such as facilities and amenities are wonderful, but they aren’t the whole picture. 

“All of that is important, but I just think of it as stuff,” said Pat. “It’s really about the people and relationships that create happiness in your life.” 

Bunny agrees. In addition to her art class, she’s looking forward to “coffee time,” an organized yet casual gathering that encourages friendly conversation. It’s a simple concept, but it can spark conversations that lead to surprising moments of connection or inspiration.

Added Bunny: “There’s something about this community that is magic.”