As folks move into their beautiful apartment homes at Canterbury Woods Gates Circle, it’s exciting to witness the birth of a community! The residents and staff members are shaping the character of this brand new retirement community.
“It’s a very modern, active group of people,” says Karen Sirgey, program coordinator for the community. “I expect this to be a very dynamic place.”
Sirgey hit the ground running last month so that, as soon as residents were settled, they’d have a full menu of fun from which to choose. Fitness activities are scheduled daily. Easels have been set up in the art studio. Movies are being screened in the Great Room, and guest speakers are sharing their expertise.
Fitness instructors lead stretching and strength training, yoga, Zumba Gold and tai chi classes. Neighborhood walks and a meditation group meet each morning. These classes also are held in the Great Room, which provides a large workout space. In addition, residents have passes to use the pool and state-of-the-art workout equipment at the Jewish Community Center just down the street from the retirement community.
The Great Room also hosts discussions led by illustrious Buffalonians.
“We have guest speakers at least once a week, sometimes more,” Sirgey says. Tod Kniazuk, executive director of the Arts Services Initiative of Western New York, told residents about the rich offerings of cultural arts organizations such as the The Buffalo AKG Art Museum and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. Tim Herzog, founder of Flying Bison Brewing Co., explained how beer is made and brought samples for attendees to taste.
Residents are enjoying Ted Talks and podcasts, which Sirgey presents on the big screen each week in the Great Room. A recent presentation by Theo Jansen captured imaginations as the Dutch artist talked about the walking kinetic sculptures he calls Strandbeests that are able to move on their own. Simon Sinek delivered an interesting Ted Talk on how great leaders inspire action. Podcasts from National Public Radio on current topics also provide a takeoff point for lively discussions.
The community’s growing population provides a great source for discussion leaders.
“One presentation I’m really excited about,” Sirgey says, “is a gentleman here who’s written a number of academic books and a while ago decided to write a romance novel. People are reading it, and when they finish, he will do a talk about how he wrote it.”
Another resident has already led a discussion that followed a showing of “The Imitation Game,” about the British efforts to decrypt German intelligence codes during World War II. Sirgey has been showing movies in the evenings and, at the request of residents, will soon start Sunday matinees.
Staff members are a great resource as well. Sirgey plans activities including a flower arranging class and cooking demonstrations.
Sirgey is also bringing in musicians to entertain residents. Solo pianists and violinists are accompanying happy hours in the sixth floor cocktail lounge; other concerts will be presented in the lower lounge, where there is a baby grand piano.
While the weather remains favorable, Sirgey is scheduling frequent outdoor activities and trips.
“We’re right in the center of everything,” she says. “Five minutes in any direction takes you to galleries, museums, restaurants and parks. A block away is one of the most walkable areas in New York—the Elmwood Village strip,” a mile-long shopping district that’s home to unique stores, cafes, pubs, galleries and restaurants. It’s just a short trip to the waterfront and downtown Buffalo, where residents can find world-class sports, shopping, cuisine and entertainment. A group of residents recently visited the town of Ellicottville to enjoy the month-long Fall Festival and view spectacular fall foliage. The community has a vehicle to take residents to appointments such as doctor visits and a larger vehicle that is shared with Canterbury Woods Williamsville for trips. If that’s still not large enough, the community will hire a transit van, Sirgey says.
The residents of Canterbury Woods Gates Circle aren’t shy about telling Sirgey what activities they want, and she’s happy to accommodate them.
“If somebody is interested in a particular thing, we can bring it in and hold classes,” she says. “New things are happening every week.”
The folks who have moved into the building have already started forming resident landscape, financial, art and library committees, Sirgey says, and more will be created as the population swells.
Sirgey, an artist and metal sculptor, will teach some art classes and will also draw upon her numerous contacts in the area to bring in guest instructors. Sirgey has been teaching art classes for 30 years and has worked with students ranging from young children to older people. She was director of education for the Ashford Hollow Foundation, which operates Griffis Sculpture Park. After working for a company teaching art classes to seniors for a year, Sirgey found she really loved working with older people.
“I felt like I needed some education, so I went back to school and got a nurse’s aide certification,” she says. “This job came up sooner than I expected, but Canterbury Woods was at the top of my list. Every person and every resident in this building has been wonderful and friendly, and everyone is helping everyone else. The first residents are helping the next ones move in. It’s already a very close community—just a friendly, welcoming place to be.”
If you would like to learn more about this extraordinary continuing care retirement community, please call 716-929-5817 or find more information here.