Living Senior: It’s Not Easy Being Green

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Green Team at Goodwin House Bailey's Crossroads VaAs people begin their new lives at Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads (GHBC), they are greeted by seven dynamic individuals striving to make a difference in the community. The Green Team, as the small group is known, has already made a large impact at GHBC as they inspire others to make environmentally friendly changes.

The team formed two years ago when co-chair Jane McKeel discussed improving recycling at a resident council meeting, after which she was approached by Mary Lathram, who expressed her similar interest in the matter.

“I just thought ‘Oh there’s at least two of us,'” said Jane, “And I think in a way the Green Team was born in that moment.”

Although unofficial for some time, the duo met with friends to discuss how they could make positive changes. Now official and on a roll, they recently used the community’s lobby to sell compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) which use less energy and can last ten times longer than incandescent bulbs. After their second sale, 211 CFLs were sold to residents and staff.

“When we had our first sale here on campus, we sold out in 30 minutes,” said co-chair Betty Allan.

The team distributes user-friendly recycling guideline posters to staff and residents and, with the help of Morrison Senior Dining-the dining services provider for GHBC-the Team has encouraged the use of washable cups.

“Styrofoam cups are not the best choice because of how they’re manufactured and the oil used in that process,” said Jane.

Though projects seem difficult, the team is made up of environmentally experienced individuals who blend in with the active community that drew them to GHBC. With her background as a university chemist and co-author of an environmental chemistry textbook, Nell Buell, Ph.D., was asked to join the team. After seeing how happy her friends were at the community, she made the transition a year ago when her home became too much to manage. The Green Team’s publicist, George Beshore looked at several places with his wife and made his decision when he visited the community and talked with residents.

“Everybody seemed so enthusiastic and interesting,” he said, “So we decided this was the place we wanted to be.”

Like Nell, George was recruited with his eight years of experience writing for the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Green Team has also received a great deal of support from staff.

Mary Ellen Ekblad said that after she was asked to join, “One of the first things we did was meet with the executive director and found that her thoughts were similar to what we had in mind.”

Staff has also spread the word through newsletters and assisted with the team’s numerous projects such as obtaining the energy-saving bulbs.

Mary Lathram moved to GHBC with her neighbors when it opened, although her children did not initially like the idea of a retirement home.

“Within a year, our children were so happy, because they realized what a gift it was to them,” said Mary, referring to the continuum of care she is assured at the community.

Her peer, Margery Reis, originally from St. Louis, MO., would not have moved to Goodwin House had it not been for her daughter-in-law, who researched the local communities so Margery could be near her family.

“She called me and said, ‘I walked into the lobby and everybody was so lively, they were moving around and doing things,'” said Margery.

Within a half-hour of her own visit, Margery made the decision to move to the community and has been happy ever since.

No matter what drew them to Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads, the Green Team is proud to have accomplished so many influential projects. Most importantly, they are all grateful to be living in a supportive community that encourages resident activism.

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