Over 20 years ago, Donna Bekkering took a part-time job at Royal Park Place, filling in at the front desk of the retirement community a few hours a week, and she’s been working there ever since.
“I guess I needed to be needed,” Donna says. “My sons had moved, and my husband had passed away. I needed to do something worthwhile. My husband had been a pastor, and we were in charge of the elderly people at the church, and I thought, what a great opportunity to do my favorite thing!”
It was a great fit. Donna got to know the residents and staff, many of whom worked together there for decades. So when the time came that Donna wanted to move to a retirement community, it was clear it would be Royal Park Place.
“There was no need for a choice,” Donna says. “I already worked here and I loved it. And what’s better than living at a place that you love?”
Donna still works at Royal Park Place, and she doesn’t intend to stop. But now, instead of driving home in the snow after work, she can relax in her apartment, or share a meal with her neighbors, or get involved in one of the many activities the community offers. Having people around her is what means the most to Donna.
“Living here makes my life better because I’m not alone,” Donna says. “And it helps my children who don’t live around here. They know I’m okay.”
She has also seen the community come together to support each other in the good times and the rough times. “Sometimes you’re being a help to somebody else because there’s been a death in the family,” Donna says. “Sometimes we just stand in the hallway and giggle and laugh for no reason at all. It’s a family, and family is there for you when you’re laughing and when you’re crying.”
And sometimes, it’s about the sweet times. “We have a church service every Sunday night, and I always come out blessed,” she says. “And there’s always cookies.” She laughs. “You’d be surprised how important cookies are.”