Retirement involves resident in worthwhile projects

With the computer an ever-increasing tool for people to build and maintain relationships, it might be a surprise that a people-person like Marian Allen doesn't own a computer.

"I don't have time to sit down," she says. "I'm just a doer. I can't sit around."

But, ironically, Allen's doing helped raise funds to purchase a computer lab and ongoing computer lessons at The Holmstad retirement community in Batavia where Allen, 80, has been a resident for going on 10 years.

"When I got here I got involved," she says.

Within her first year she was asked to be the president-elect of the resident council.

"I couldn't believe they asked me," she recalls. Although hesitant, Allen says she worked with the former president who helped her prepare for the role of planning and running the monthly meetings.

"Before that I hadn't even talked in a microphone before," she says. "It was a great experience. It enhanced my self confidence."

Among other roles Allen has helped run the community's garage sale and organize the on-site store. She ran and works in the plant shop in the fall bazaar and is helping plan this year's employee Christmas party.

"I'm just that type of personality," she says. "I like people and to be around people and to be part of something I think is worthwhile."

Allen did her homework when choosing The Holmstad after maintaining a four-bedroom home in Geneva for eight years after her husband died.

"People were so happy, smiling and friendly," she says of The Holmstad residents.

"I'd driven past the place for years and didn't know anything about it."

In addition to her involvement at the Holmstad, Allen volunteers at Delnor Hospital in Geneva twice a month, something she has done for the past 18 years.

Although The Holmstad has a wonderful fitness center, Allen says she enjoys going to Delnor's fitness center just about every day where she has made friends.

Allen enjoys spending time with her family which includes two grandsons, who she likes to take to Kane County Cougars games.

For a change of scenery and to fulfill a dream she had shared with her husband, Allen tries to take a trip once a year with a tour group. She has traveled to Alaska, Nova Scotia and Canada.

"If I go one time a year I'm going to do it up right," she says. "I meet such wonderful people and still correspond with some of them."

She says while she loves where she lives it is also good to get out and get away.

"When I get back I'm glad to get back," she says.

Juggling a busy schedule, Allen also enjoys entertaining and recently hosted a dinner party for several friends. Allen did a lot of entertaining in the past such as business dinners for her husband and used to belong to a gourmet dinner group where couples would take turns hosting dinner parties and teaching each other about different food preparations.

"I'm anxious to do it again," she says.

Allen lives in a cottage home with her own garage allowing her both independence and a sense of community.

One of the reasons Allen says she chose the Holmstad is for the continuum of care with assisted living and skilled nursing all on the same campus. Through her involvement she has gotten to know a lot of the residents as well as the employees.

"The employees think of us as family. One of the maintenance men here once said it's like having 100 grandmas," she says with a laugh.

"They get to know you here," she adds. "They're concerned about you."

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