Senior Living Residents Gussy Up, Celebrate at Gala

Originally featured in NewsOK.

Olinda Berry might not be able to bust a move on the dance floor like she used to, but that didn’t keep her from celebrating with friends and neighbors recently.

Berry, 98, was one of the first residents to move into Oklahoma City’s Concordia Life Care Community after it opened in 2007, and she wasn’t about to miss out on the 10th anniversary party last week.

“Everyone always asks me, ‘What’s the key to a long life.’ It’s scotch and soda and keeping busy,” Berry said. “There is so much to do here at Concordia, and that’s what keeps you going when you get to be my age.”

Berry has slowed down a little this year after fracturing her pelvis and moving from the facility’s independent housing to assisted care. She still plays Wii bowling on Mondays, canasta on Tuesdays, pinochle on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and calls bingo on Thursdays, but she reserves Fridays and Sundays for some down time.

After living alone for six years following her husband’s death, Berry moved into the senior living complex on Britton Road near lake Hefner the week it opened in October 2007. She was the facility’s fourth resident. The anniversary gala gave Berry a chance to honor the place she has called home for the past decade and the people she calls family.

Many of Concordia’s 187 residents and volunteers from across the metro area attended the Rose and Gold Gala, Celebrating 10 Years of Excellence event.

The facility’s event coordinator Megan Carter said the gala was consistent with the center’s theme of bringing the community together.

“Concordia means ‘with heart’ and that’s really what this place is about,” Carter said. “I fell in love with the residents here while I was working in memory care, and now I get to hear the personal stories of all of the residents in independent living. It’s a really special place with special people and these events just bring everyone together.”

Volunteers from the Junior League of Oklahoma City and students from University of Oklahoma pampered residents during the day and escorted them to and from activities throughout the building during the gala.

Kathy Nowlin painted residents’ nails, while her granddaughter, Alyxis Nowlin, who owns Artistry by Alyxis, applied their makeup.

Lamont United Methodist Church donated racks of dresses for residents to wear to the gala.

Resident Joan Quatro spun around the facility before the party, showing off her purple ballgown and sparkling necklace.

Betty Fisher, or Toots as she’s best known at Concordia, enjoyed the pampering while she got her nails and makeup done and reminisced about her first weeks at Concordia 10 years earlier.

Fisher knew she needed help after her late husband had a stroke that landed him in a wheelchair.

“I knew there would come a time when I can’t take care of him by myself anymore,” Fisher said. “They have all levels of care here, so no matter what he needed or what I’d need in the future, they could handle it.”

Fisher’s husband died about a year after they moved to Concordia, but there are still plenty of people looking after her, including her sister who lives across the hall.

“I’m lucky to have my sister here, but everyone is like family here,” Fisher said. “We take care of one another; we look after one another.”

John Martin and his wife, Bernice, are some of Concordia’s newer residents, but that didn’t keep them from joining the party. Bernice Martin had her nails done before the gala, and John Martin was looking forward to cocktail hour. He said the gala is just another example of the activities that occupy his time these days.

“We’re having a great time here,” Martin said. “We’ve only been here about 10 months, and it’s a big adjustment, but it’s already become our home.”