Leading the Good Life
By Christy Brudin
Gladys Hane is leading the good life—and leading is certainly the operative word in that statement. She is the president of her church’s chapter of the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League. She is also the president of the Association of Virginian Residents at the continuing care retirement community in Fairfax, Va., that she calls home.
Located on 32 wooded acres, The Virginian offers comprehensive healthcare for seniors, from independent living to assisted living to long-term nursing care. The community also provides short-term rehabilitation and home health services for community residents, as well as other Northern Virginia residents. For Gladys, The Virginian offers the peace of mind that comes with knowing that any of her future care needs will be met, as well as endless options to
stay active and engaged.
Gladys left her native St. Paul, Minn., forty-seven years ago. She and her husband, Edward, who was a Colonel in the Air Force, moved to the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan region following a military transfer. They never left. The Hanes settled in a home in Vienna near Wolf Trap and went on to have five children. Today, Gladys is the proud grandmother of ten grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
Edward’s distinguished career in the military lasted for fifty-six years before his retirement. Gladys spent the bulk of her professional life working with children, first as a counselor and later as a preschool teacher at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.
As the years passed, Gladys began to experience chronic back pain, which led to three different surgeries. Following each of her surgeries, the hospital recommended that she recover at a rehabilitation facility. She chose The Virginian each time.
“I came to stay here after my first surgery in 2009, and everyone was just so wonderful. The next time I had surgery, I knew I wanted to come back. And then the third time I had surgery, I wanted to come back again,” recalled Gladys. “I knew then that when it was time, I would move here permanently.”
For Gladys, the time to move came sooner rather than later. Edward began to experience some health problems of his own, and both Gladys and Edward were having a difficult time navigating their multi story home. “We had a big home and a large yard. It was just so much to keep up with and so expensive,” she said.
After Edward passed away two years ago, Gladys didn’t hesitate any longer; she made the move. “I was so ready to move. All of the things in my home were just material, and I was ready to start a new phase of life, knowing that I’ll never have to move again, and I’ll always have the care I need,” she explained.
Since moving, Gladys has become an integral part of her new community. “The friendships begin as soon as you move in, with the welcoming hostess who greets you,” she recalled. Beyond the welcoming committee, Gladys quickly made friends on her hallway, in her exercise classes and by participating in various activities. “You just don’t want to stay in your apartment. It’s so enjoyable to be with all the people here. Everyone is so friendly, and I really can’t explain how great it is,” she said.
As President of the Association of Virginian Residents, Gladys is not only involved, she is also an advocate for other residents. She explained, “We encourage all the residents to realize that this is their home and that their opinion matters. We want everyone to be interested and involved.”
Beyond her leadership duties, Gladys also participates in several other activities. A lifelong crafter, she enjoys various arts and crafts. One of her favorites is quilling, a practice that involves rolling, shaping and gluing strips of paper to make decorative items. The Virginian’s quilling group is active all year, but every Christmas they really display their skills with a quilling tree.
When she is not quilling, Gladys plays Mexican Train, canasta and bridge. She also participates in on campus religious services held by Pastoral and Community Care Director Pastor Michael Magwire, including weekly services, monthly communions and monthly community care conversations.
Outside of The Virginian, Gladys remains an active member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Falls Church where Mark Shaltanis serves as pastor. Gladys is the president of the church’s Lutheran Women’s Missionary League. In fact, she holds the Women’s League meetings at The Virginian, and the women enjoy the delicious food and beautiful facilities the community offers.
“I love having my church groups here, and the dining here is wonderful,” said Gladys. “ I did a lot of cooking and entertaining at home before I moved here, so I still think this is so great—such a vacation not to have to cook anymore.”
While she might not be cooking, Gladys is certainly staying busy, and she is absolutely leading a good life. As an active resident and leader, Gladys continues to help her friends and neighbors get involved and stay engaged— ultimately leading to a better community for everyone.