When you don’t have to worry about housekeeping and yardwork, you have much more time to do what you love. And nobody knows that better than Bill and Cindy Bouman, two tireless volunteers who moved to Village On The Isle in December 2019.
So what, besides the warm winters, drew these former northerners to Village On The Isle? For starters, they liked the fact that our Life Plan Community, also known as a Continuing Care Retirement Community or CCRC, was large enough to give them lots of options, yet small enough to let them build connections with their neighbors. They also hoped that they could make a positive contribution to the quality of life here—and boy, did they ever!
A Pandemic Plants the Seeds
Soon after the Boumans settled into their new home, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, making it a challenge for folks to get to know one another. Cindy Bouman explains the novel workaround their building created. “One of the residents suggested that everyone contribute a couple of paragraphs about their life story,” she explains. Later, they turned these stories into a book, which helped this group of strangers form a tight bond.
“Once the lockdowns lifted, everyone already felt like old friends,” she continues, “and we realized that we had decades of skills, training and life experiences that we could share with others.” This insight inspired the Boumans to join the more than 150 other independent living residents who actively volunteer at Village On The Isle.
Community Politics At Its Friendliest
The Resident Council at Village On The Isle serves as the governing body for independent living residents and is the primary collective liaison with management. Bill Bouman was named council president after building a reputation for efficiency as a building committee chair.
“Thinking through issues and herding cats are two of my strong points, which help keep our jam-packed meeting agendas on track,” Bill explains. “I try to be the cheerleader-in-chief, and it seems to be working well, because I haven’t been impeached yet,” he laughs.
Bill also points to the productive working relationship between the Council and the community’s management team. “Some places have cold or distant relationships between the resident governance and ownership,” he says. “But here, that’s just about absent. We all work together to make our community the best it can be, both for folks here now and for those who will follow.”
In addition to the Resident Council, Bill meets regularly with the Village On The Isle men’s group, where there’s never a shortage of conversation topics. “It’s fascinating to hear people talk about their life experiences in depth,” Bill says. “One retired rocket scientist spoke about missile silos in Oklahoma, and even showed us pictures of some rockets. But don’t worry, there wasn’t anything classified.”
To top it all off, Bill also enjoys helping out with the VOTI woodshop’s “Toys for Children” program producing wooden toys for underprivileged children throughout the world. Leftover wood is sent to the assisted living staff who use it for crafts and projects. It’s a win-win for everybody!
Girl Chats and Gin Rummy
While her husband tends to the affairs of the community, Cindy Bouman spends much of her time working with the folks in assisted living and memory care. “Many other communities plan activities for people in assisted living, but here, these folks also get to mingle with the independent living community,” she explains. “I get to watch people grow and live fully, and I really appreciate that.”
A spacious family room housed in The Lofts, our community’s assisted living complex, sets the scene for activities including games, Bible studies, concerts, crafts and more. There was even an afternoon when students from the local high school held a “meet-and-greet” event where they engaged with multiple residents. A lot of meaningful conversations between the generations took place that day.
As a volunteer, Cindy helps transport people to these events and encourages them to join in the fun. She fondly recalls one afternoon spent playing gin rummy with a memory care resident she knew from independent living. “I asked him ‘Do you play cards?’ and he told me he used to be pretty good at gin rummy. So I told him ‘I’m your girl!’ We must have played eight games that day.”
Cindy also helps Chaplain Rob Hall lead a weekly grief support group, which is open to folks of all beliefs. She explains why this work is an ideal fit for her skill set. “I’m a former grade school teacher with a master’s degree in adult ed and gerontology. Before I retired I spent years working as a death and grief consultant and educator. I also served as an educator and prevention employee for a small nonprofit during the early day of the AIDS epidemic.”
One of Cindy’s favorite projects is a little thing called “Girl Chat.” She explains: “If somebody seems a bit lonely in their room, I’ll knock on her door and invite them to a Girl Chat with me and a couple other ladies. It really lifts everyone’s spirits.” Cindy remembers one Girl Chat in which a memory care resident took a seat and joined them. “It made her day … and mine,” she exclaims.
Staying Comfortable and Connected
While Cindy and Bill have chosen different paths to volunteering, they’re both glad they didn’t wait to make their move to Village On The isle. “We can still enjoy everything that greater Sarasota County has to offer, then come back here and be an active part of this community as well,” Bill says.
Cindy couldn’t agree more. “For me it means continuing to share the many wonderful things I’ve learned in my life. I just celebrated another birthday in my eighties, and I’m not done yet. Nor do I plan to be.”
So what are you waiting for? If you’re ready for a secure, maintenance-free life that’s ripe with opportunities to pay it forward, then Village On The Isle might be the perfect place for you. Call 941-202-4451 to learn more or schedule your visit.