Friends and Neighbors–White Horse Village
Good friends are hard to find. Great friends who are also neighbors are even rarer. The residents of White Horse Village have found both—hundreds of them—at their full service retirement community in Newtown Square, Pa.
The friendships at White Horse Village started even before the residents moved in nearly a quarter of a century ago. Now, as the residents celebrate the community’s 25th anniversary, they are immensely proud of the intimate atmosphere they helped to build. Helping to establish the warm and welcoming community were several charter families—including the Madsens and the Allens.
Paul and Shirley Madsen were among the first residents to sign up for White Horse Village shortly after construction started in 1989. After joining the community, the Madsens immediately started volunteering.
Paul was asked to help form the White Horse Village Residents Association. He eagerly accepted the challenge and helped to lay the groundwork for the high-level of resident involvement seen today in all aspects of community life. In March of 1990, he was elected to the Council and served for five years, including three successive one-year terms as president. One of his most notable accomplishments was helping to establish the Resident Reserve Fund; today, the fund includes more than $1.5 million to assist residents in need.
While her husband was helping to establish the community’s leadership, Shirley and her fellow volunteers focused on welcoming new residents. “We started immediately with the welcoming committee, and whenever someone moved in, we would make sure they had a meal delivered,” she said.
Shirley was also one of the original members of the Village Singers, the community’s highly acclaimed chorus. Today, the group is directed by residents who are retired professional musicians. They create challenging programs for both the novice and advanced singers.
“In the early days, we just had fun and never really thought about the quality of the music,” recalled Shirley. “It is an entirely different group now, still fun, but very professional and accomplished.”
One of the primary hallmarks of White Horse Village was present from its earliest days—and never even required a committee: the community’s friendly atmosphere. “I have always been amazed by the friendliness of everyone here—not only the residents, but also all the staff members,” Shirley noted. “This entire campus is just such a friendly place.”
The Allens had a similar experience. Phil and Betty Allen are also charter residents of White Horse Village, and they have never regretted their decision to move to what was then a community under construction.
“We have been so happy here. It is, without a doubt, one of the friendliest places on earth,” said Betty. “I just hope it goes on forever and ever.”
Phil and Betty were also instrumental in helping to build the close-knit community, and became actively involved in a variety of activities before they moved. Phil worked with several other residents to establish and outfit the community’s Woodshop, which continues to be a popular activity among current residents.
Meanwhile, Betty helped to establish the Harvester’s Garden, a large garden plot that is home to a wide array of flowers, as well as seasonal vegetables and herbs. Betty and her fellow gardeners raise flowers and create both fresh and dried arrangements that are displayed throughout White Horse Village.
The garden has grown immensely. “This year, I raised about 100 baby plants from seeds,” Betty said. However, she now realizes how naive the original gardeners were when they started. “We must have been very optimistic because we decided to name it the Harvesters Garden before we had even planted anything,” she laughed as she recalled.
While Betty has seen her garden and her community grow over the years, watching the friendships grow has been the most rewarding.
“The friendliness is the most important aspect of this community,” she said. “Even 25 years later, we are still so active and involved.”
Shirley agreed. “It makes me angry when people think that we came to White Horse Village to die. We came here to live, and we have lived so well.”
Whether they are charter residents or new additions, White Horse Village’s residents all benefit from the friendly and welcoming atmosphere of a community that has a proud history and an exciting future. In the last 25 years, the community has grown and changed to better meet the needs of the area’s active seniors—but one thing will never change: new friends and neighbors are always welcome.
Published: July 2014