Woodlands, a premier retirement community in the Huntington tri-state area, is home to a wide variety of individuals and couples enjoying every day here on our hilltop. We think that one of the best ways to get to know what it’s like to live here is to hear it straight from the members of our community themselves, so we recently spoke with one couple and one woman who are loving life here despite the challenges that 2020 has brought.

Whether you’ve lived here for a couple years now like Judy and Richard Dunlap, or for just a couple months like Celeste Fraley, it’s clear that one of the best parts of living at Woodlands is the people and true sense of community. When navigating the difficulties that have come with COVID-19, a sense of social connection becomes even more important, and we were glad to hear that the Dunlaps and Celeste have felt not only safe, but also well-connected to their Woodlands neighbors. Let’s get to know each of them!

Meet the Dunlaps: Woodlands was always their choice, ‘without a minute’s regret’

Judy and Richard Dunlap moved to Woodlands in early 2018 from nearby Putnam County, West Virginia. They owned a three-story house on five acres, and the upkeep was becoming too much of a burden.

“Upkeep on the house and the yard would have gotten hard for us as we got older,” Judy said. “We had received a postcard about Woodlands and had a neighbor who was also interested, so we came down to take a look and were most impressed.”

They were so impressed that they didn’t even consider any of the other retirement communities in the Huntington tri-state area. Woodlands was their choice, and now they live here in one of our standalone cottages.

“We’ve lived here without a minute’s regret,” Judy added. “We’ve been very pleased. And even with the pandemic, we feel quite safe. The administration and staff have done a wonderful job managing everything. It hasn’t always been fun, but we’re safe and healthy.”

Speaking of staying healthy, Judy and Richard own two standard poodles, which means they can be seen strolling the neighborhood with their dogs regularly. The dog walks also allow them to get their steps in each day and stay fit while enjoying the beauty of Woodlands’ campus, no matter what’s going on in the world.

Judy and Rich Dunlap have enjoyed life at Woodlands despite COVID-19

Judy and Richard own two standard poodles, which means they can be seen strolling the neighborhood with their dogs regularly.

“There’s a lot of wildlife around here,” Richard said. “You never know what you’re going to see, and you can do a mile-and-a-half hike around here without even leaving the campus. Lots of hills up and down, so you get some strong leg work out of it, too!”

When circumstances allow, Judy and Richard also look forward to getting back to regular workouts in Woodlands’ fitness center, which features modern equipment and professionally taught exercise classes.

Judy especially wants to participate in chair yoga again and return to her biweekly volunteer work in Woodlands’ on-campus gift shop. For now, though, the Dunlaps know that it’s just a matter of time before everyone can connect completely.

“We talk on the phone and we aren’t as communal as we once were,” Judy said. “But we still have the sense that we’re all taking care of each other by being apart.”

That is one big thing that the Dunlaps say has meant a lot to them while living at Woodlands in Huntington: the benefits of community living even at a time like this. Members of our community are safe, they have all they need, and they are also able to connect (from a distance) with neighbors who have become close friends.

Meet Celeste: She’s new to Woodlands, but not new to Huntington 

Like many other people living at Woodlands, Celeste Fraley is from Huntington. Being a Huntingtonian was actually a major factor for her choosing Woodlands, as two of her aunts were part of the first group of residents to move in here when Woodlands opened in 1996.

“I actually helped my two aunts move into Woodlands,” Celeste said. “Then, after my husband passed away when our three children were still young, it got me to thinking about how Woodlands would be a good option for me. So, I joined the wait list and planned to move here for the last 24 years!”

Her two-decade-plus wait to move to Woodlands came to an end in late September 2020, when she moved into her two-bedroom apartment here on our park-like campus.

“Moving here was basically a gift to my children, so they wouldn’t ever have to worry about me,” she said. “Plus, I had been living in the same house for 52 years, so now they won’t have to go through 52 years of belongings. This was the decision that was really the best for me and my children.”

Celeste F. has enjoyed her experience at Woodlands so far, despite the challenges from COVID-19

“I joined the wait list and planned to move here for the last 24 years!” Celeste said.

Celeste admits that because of COVID-19, she hasn’t yet gotten the “full experience” of living at Woodlands, but her connections to the Huntington community and hope for a bright future here are allowing her to stay busy and maintain important social connections.

“I’m still very much involved in the local community here,” she added. “I’m on the friends of the library board and part of the altar guild at church, so you can still be involved in Huntington itself and Marshall [University] while you live here. You can do all the things you did before, and enjoy the benefits of Woodlands.”

Plus, despite the restrictions in place at Woodlands to keep all members of the community and staff safe, Celeste says that people have still been able to connect and get involved.

“We can’t do things like play bridge because that puts people too close to each other, but we have been able to do some things together like knit winter hats for underprivileged schoolchildren. I didn’t even know how to knit, but I learned how here. I’ve already made 10 hats and I’m working on two more!” Celeste exclaimed.

Pandemic or not, she’s excited for all she can look forward to doing at Woodlands.

“I’ve only been here two months, but I’ve found that the people are extremely nice, the staff is extremely helpful, and everyone seems to go out of their way to make you feel welcome,” she said. “When possible, I plan to use the exercise room, play bridge and get to know other people and broaden my horizons and interests—that’s a lot to look forward to!”

We invite you to get a glimpse of all you can look forward to by living at Woodlands, whether via an in-person private tour or a virtual appointment. You can get in touch with our friendly and knowledgeable team by clicking here or calling 304-697-1620 today. As Celeste said, there’s a lot to look forward to here, and we look forward to hearing from you!

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