Waltz, fox trot, swing – Evelyn Simpson dances them all and doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon. Evelyn moved to The Overlook in July 2021 from a small town called Wenham on Massachusetts’ north shore that is “famous for its tea and not much else,” she says. As one of The Overlook’s newest residents, she’s getting into the swing of her new life and forming meaningful relationships with new friends.
Before the pandemic, Evelyn had been extremely active. “Before COVID, I was going ballroom dancing three or four times a week,” she says. She was also involved in her church, worked out at Planet Fitness, oil painted and attended events with friends at the Council on Aging.
Despite the changes brought on by the pandemic and Evelyn’s macular degeneration, she makes every effort to stay as socially active as she can. And being at The Overlook empowers her to do that each and every day.
Change in scenery
Evelyn set out in search of a new community with friendly people and lots of activities. She looked at several places, but The Overlook in Charlton stood out for several reasons. She liked the atmosphere and the fact that everyone was very welcoming, smiling and happy. Plus, it meant being closer to her daughter, who lives just 10 miles away from The Overlook.
Evelyn was impressed with the fitness center, which includes a pool and hot tub. “The only thing missing was ballroom dancing.”
Getting back out there
After she was widowed at 80 years old, Evelyn remarried 5 years later to a man named Harry. His mother had a dance school from the Depression in the theater district of Boston, and he and his six siblings were all dancers. “I hadn’t danced since college when I met him in 2014,” Evelyn says. You could say that Harry swept her off her feet. They went out dancing every chance they got – they even danced across the Atlantic while on a cruise.
Sadly, Harry passed away just 8 months after they were married. “I thought I’ll never want to dance again because I’ll immediately miss him,” Evelyn says.
A few months went by. Then, one night, Evelyn went out to a social gathering where a man asked her to dance. Reluctantly, she said yes. “I was surprised to find myself so focused on following his lead that I didn’t think about anything else,” she says. That moment brought her back to doing what she loved.
Shaking things up
Shortly after moving in, Evelyn decided to bring up the notion of ballroom dancing at The Overlook to Kristine Binette, the new executive director. Known for listening and acting upon residents’ requests, Kristine worked to hire a professional dance teacher. In October, the first ballroom dancing class was held at The Overlook. “Our first class was the rhumba and we had 9 people participating,” Evelyn says. She’s hopeful that there will be enough interest from other residents to make it a regular activity.
Believe it or not, the macular degeneration hasn’t affected her dancing. It was the pandemic that kept her off the dance floor for almost 2 years. “I’m rusty, but with a good partner who knows how to lead, the timing and counts come back to me right away,” she says. “The waltz, fox trot and swing are like riding a bike, but ‘My cha-cha is not up to par, and the teacher started with rhumba, which I need a refresher on because of the breakaways and spins.’”
Besides ballroom dancing, Evelyn has been trying other new things at The Overlook. Every Monday, she looks forward to playing cribbage with friends. She participates in a fall prevention program for balance, exercises regularly and practices meditation. “Twice a week we have movies, classics like Mission Impossible and also new movies, complete with popcorn.”
Her apartment is the Aspen floor plan with one bedroom and one bath. It’s bright with lots of windows and great views that include trees, cottages and a wide expanse of grass that is used for special occasions and games. Hills and mountains appear beyond the grass. “It’s a beautiful view of God’s creation and man’s adapting,” she says. Plus, the cleaners come every other week. “It’s everything I need.”
Thankful for good people
Evelyn likes the fact that The Overlook is a nonprofit community founded by the Masons. “My father and both brothers were Masons,” she says.
She also likes that the people, both staff and residents, are kind, respectful and accepting of one another. “We appreciate living in a place where help is available if we need it, and it’s wonderful.” When Evelyn needs something, it’s always just a phone call away. “I call the concierge at the front desk and put in a work order for the maintenance man to come take care of anything that needs attention, or ask for the IT people to come and help me establish my Gmail account. All it takes is a phone call and they’re here,” Evelyn says.
Residents are discouraged from tipping the staff, but residents find plenty of ways to share their appreciation. Rather than tip, Evelyn makes chocolate chip cookies for team members. “When someone goes beyond what I expect, I give them a bag of homemade cookies.”
Find out what you’re missing at The Overlook. To learn more about this exciting opportunity, contact us by calling 866-753-5429 or by clicking here.