“I don’t want to live with a lot of old people.” We residents of Kendal at Oberlin hear comments like this from some of our friends when we encourage them to consider moving into our community. To tell the truth, some of us may have spoken those exact words – until we actually saw how intergenerational life is here at Kendal. We have an Early Childhood Center under our own roof, so even those of us who don’t volunteer in the Center are cheered by seeing youngsters as they take excursions along our corridors and walkways or play next to our cafeteria. The high school students who are our dining room servers provide another level of interaction, highlighted every spring when they bring their prom dates to show off their “dress-up” attire. And our other staff – housekeeping, facilities, wellness, nursing, etc. – in the process of performing their tasks help us feel we belong to a multi-age community. And when storms close the public schools, our KORA “Snow Day Teachers” provide activities for the children of these staff members.
Kendal is not a “gated” community in any sense. Non-residents, including members of Kendal –at-Home, are attracted to many of the programs presented by KORA committees. Increasingly, community organizations, most notably the Oberlin Heritage Center, make use of our facilities for public programs that bring overflow crowds to our auditorium. Because Kendal residents are so active in community and church groups, many meetings of these groups take place here – as becomes apparent when trying to schedule the Crossroads or Green Room. And our mile-long circular Kendal Drive attracts college students and others for jogging or just a leisurely walk to watch the birds and other wild life in our ponds, woods and natural meadow areas.
Oberlin College and Conservatory students volunteer to assist in the Stephens Care Center, present recitals in our auditorium, and provide programs for our committees. Many Lorain Community College and Joint Vocational School students receive part of their training here. Students in the Oberlin Public Schools, including the Model U.N. participants, Ninde Scholars and International Baccalaureate candidates, give talks about their studies and display their projects. In return, Kendal residents write “publicity plugs,” provide “grandparent” readers for kindergarten students, staff the “listening post” for middle school students, tutor and occasionally teach courses in the high school.
Among the small town advantages of Oberlin is that within easy walking and biking distance are a magnificent art museum, a world-class Conservatory of Music, and the full range of Oberlin College academic, athletics, drama and other facilities – all of them open to Kendal residents. Many of us audit classes and/or participate in winter term and Exco courses – free of charge. With the College’s 1200 events a year, including concerts, operas, plays, dance performances and lectures, at little or no ticket price, we Kendal-ites have far more opportunities to mingle with audiences of all ages than time and energy permit. We offer our own talents to the community by participating in the Musical Union and church choirs, and by showing off our Lawn Chair Precision Drill Team in such events as the annual city-wide Big Parade. Some of us also serve on City commissions and many of us on church and community boards and committees.
So, it’s true, we Kendal residents live with a lot of old people – very fascinatingly talented, experienced and wise old people – but we keep our curiosity, creativity and intellectual capacity alive thanks to the extraordinary intergenerational opportunities that Oberlin provides.
John Elder, KORA President
KORA is the Kendal at Oberlin Resident Association. Visit their web site at www.kaores.kendal.org.