Independence Village puts itself in the spirit of the neighbor


Editor’s Note: The Daily News has partnered with the organizers of Midland Neighboring Week to release vignettes featuring Midlanders discussing what it’s like to be a neighbor in Midland. This is the last part of this series.

As we wrapped up talks for Midland Neighbors Week, we had the opportunity to visit Independence Village, an assisted living complex with a solid understanding of neighbors. We caught up with Life Enrichment Director Kate Wesolek-Dutcher and General Manager Allison Williams for a brief visit, before introducing us to the residents of their “neighborhood”.

Wesolek-Dutch believes that living near others creates relationships, so it is important to get along with your neighbors. She listed the things that make being a good neighbor, kindness, consideration for others, and open-mindedness to everyone who lives around you. Williams added that people need to feel a sense of connection and security, which the residents of Independence Village are blessed with. She says it’s important in her role to be the glue, to keep people together and to unite them.

“A big part of what Katie and I do is bring people together and give them the opportunity to go beyond their hopes and dreams,” said Williams.

Both agree that Midland has a lot to offer, adding that social life is abundant within the community and in Independent Village.

While showing us around the resort, they introduced us to Audrey. She moved from Kansas to Midland almost 60 years ago. A former Dow Corning employee, she loved her job and retired at the age of 60. She enjoys living in Independence Village, where she feels her neighbors are like family.

“When COVID-19 first started, we all used to pull our chairs or walkers to our door, and we would greet each other and talk in the hallway. We enjoyed it, and the staff would bring the cart to have little sweets or little drinks or something you can just enjoy, ”said Audrey, who enjoys activities in the village. She painted in watercolors and learned to crochet, making cat rugs for the Humane Society of Midland County.

This sense of connection was present as a group of residents gathered to chat with us. They joked, laughed and shared stories about their time in Independence Village and the community of Midland. They all agreed that their friendships became like family living in Independence Village.

Ruth Ann has lived in Midland for 63 years. She finds Midland an exciting place with good schools. When she was raising her children, everyone knew each other and did a lot of things together. Ruth Ann thinks the neighborhood happens easily in Independent Village.

“It doesn’t matter whether you know them or not,” she said. “You can smile at them in the hallway, you can greet them in the dining room, and you can come to exercise class early and get to know each other a little bit.”

Bob, originally from South Texas and Louisiana, has lived in Midland for 28 years. He moved to Independence Village a year ago. Prior to that, he volunteered with disabled people and runaway teenagers. He finds Midland pleasant, the people are courteous, and the traffic is easy compared to Houston.

“Coming here (to Independence Village) has been a fantastic experience,” said Bob, who smiles as he talks about some of his wonderful neighbors. “Across the room for me is a woman celebrating her 99th birthday this week, and she was a nurse during WWII in the Pacific, then next to me is a woman.” whose husband was the conductor of the Midland Center for the Arts. She is an exceptional pianist, every two weeks she plays the piano and a group of us get together and we sing.

“I beat you all! I have been here in Midland for 70 years! exclaimed Stu, another resident.

Stu believes Midland is a community where you can make friends and where crime is low. There are plenty of activities and events here with the Midland Center for the Arts, Dow Gardens, and Whiting Forest.

“And, he has the best tennis center in Michigan,” added Stu. “Nothing compares to this!”

Nancy is one of the new residents of Independence Village, which moved in just two years ago after her husband passed away. One thing she notes is that many of her neighbors are in the same situation, that they are widowed and that it is important to support each other. She loves Midland overall.

“I’m in awe of all the culture and all the things you can do outside of the village,” said Nancy. “And there’s a lot of things available to you and, and Independence Village takes us to a lot of things by shuttle.”

As we wrapped up our visit to Independence Village, residents and staff prepared for fall fun, with apple cider and donuts. We enjoyed our visit and got to know the people of the community a bit more. The neighbors greeted us with kindness and it was obvious that everyone, including the staff, were very proud of their neighbor.

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