Donna May serves as Woodlands Director of Resident Engagement, and when it comes to her philosophy for residents’ wellness, it goes well past physical exercise. Woodlands puts a strong emphasis on making sure wellness for their residents encompasses all factors – the physical, the mental, the spiritual, and the social. Donna brings a background in programming and community-based relations that makes her a champion in facilitating a variety of fitness, art, spiritual and civic programs. These programs allow residents to engage in their community — both on and off the campus. We were able to learn more from Donna about her role and how she enhances wellness at Woodlands.
Encouraging Fitness for Woodlands Residents
Woodlands residents are involved in many different activities that encourage relationships as well as physical wellbeing. Croquet is one of many group sports available to not only get them on their feet but to help them get to know their neighbors. “There’s probably about twenty to twenty-five people that play on the teams. But then we have extra seating set up during croquet season around the course so that all the residents can go and watch.” The croquet group is currently facilitated by Jane, a resident who brought croquet commissioner experience to the community. She was able to engage other residents over the years, making croquet an active part of the dynamic sports life at Woodlands.
In addition to team sports, daily exercise classes including stretching and yoga are enjoyed by many. The campus specializes in a men’s workout class, offers a balance class once a week and features a state-of-the-art fitness center that includes treadmills and various types of exercise equipment. There’s also beautiful outdoor pathways with magnificent views where many enjoy taking daily walks.
Woodlands is also close to the local YMCA and the two have a great relationship to provide benefits to Woodland residents, including membership discounts, shuttle transportation and even access to swimming pools! “The YMCA has a heated indoor pool, and they engage our residents with water aerobics and swimming activities.”
A variety of organizations and speakers from the nearby Marshall University visit the campus often. Since many Woodlands residents themselves are Marshall alumni, the two campuses share a deeply rooted connection. “Marshall supports us, and we support them,” Donna tells us, also mentioning that the community transports residents to the university’s football games, basketball games and even their theatre program events.
An All-Encompassing Look at Wellness
Donna takes pride in making sure that wellness at Woodlands goes past fitness. The staff encourages residents to participate in mental and spiritual activities. “We have members of all church organizations and all faiths that come in,” Donna noted. Residents have access to pastoral visits and the campus provides Sunday worship and biweekly communion. “We do have a very large attendance for these events, and they like it when I provide a variety of faith leaders.”
Lifelong learning is a big part of wellness at Woodlands, too. Instructors like Dr. Gary Rankin, who is set to teach a bird migration lesson, and others from Marshall University and the Huntington community visit Woodlands to lead educational, hobby and art classes.
Volunteering is also significant to the Woodlands culture, and many residents volunteer their time at the local library, the Huntington Museum of Art, the Marshall University Alumni Association and Huntington’s Rotary Park. Through these partnerships, often facilitated by engaged residents, local businesses and organizations bring events to the campus, as well as bring residents to community events.
Cultural events on campus not only help cultivate mental wellness, but they do wonders for social well-being. “I see people here every day that have lived alone and maybe didn’t get out as much and we make it very easy.” Residents enjoy taking group trips with their neighbors, and love knowing that they always have the opportunity to spend time with friends.
“We set out together as a group and we return as a group. You would not be identified as being alone ever,” Donna imparted. She shared with us the story of a resident who was able to rekindle her social life after joining in on a trip to the local symphony. Another newly moved-in resident celebrated her 56th wedding anniversary, even in the absence of her late husband, while surrounded by her Woodlands neighbors who cheered for her during a group dinner outing. In addition to encouraging residents to participate in community events, resident gatherings and hall meetings also help them meet and socialize with their neighbors.
These activities are just a few examples of how wellness affects everyday life at Woodlands. Stay tuned for upcoming stories about wellness at Woodlands, such as the Sisterhood of the Traveling Residents and two couples who couldn’t wait to move in and get involved in everything Woodlands has to offer.
To learn more about how you can move to Woodlands and get involved in our lively community, contact us today at 304-697-1620 to schedule a tour.