Covenant Village, a non-profit Life Plan Community for senior living and continuing care, has received a gift of $1.25 million from a generous donor to fund a strategic initiative centered around senior well-being and community enrichment.
The funding will help Covenant Village develop a multi-functional outdoor space to encourage social and wellness-centered activities, which have been proven to greatly improve health and well-being as people age.
“Generosity is at the core of our Covenant Village history. In fact, the very existence of our senior living community is founded on both collaboration and philanthropy that responded to a shared concern for meeting the needs of people as they age. We are deeply grateful for this significant financial partnership that supports our shared goal of promoting health and wellness in the community and creating more opportunities for seniors to age well in Gaston County,” said Nancy Paschall, Attorney at Law with Mullen, Holland and Cooper and Chair of the Covenant Village Board of Directors.
The idea for an accessible outdoor community space developed in response to the difficulties and limitations encountered during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Covenant Village CEO Dale Melton.
“From 2020 to 2022, the pandemic nearly threatened the very essence of what makes Covenant Village the place where people live longer better. Yet, it also awakened our determination to protect what we value most: the belief that people are stronger, healthier, and better when we can be together, in-person and in community,” Melton explained.
Research conducted on a national and global level, especially during and after the pandemic, has cautioned that older adults who are alone may be more susceptible to feelings of loneliness and social isolation, which can negatively impact their health and overall well-being. Scientists and healthcare experts have linked social isolation and loneliness to increased risks for health issues such as heart disease, depression, and cognitive decline.
“Conversely, research has also shown that seniors who move to retirement communities don’t just live longer, they can live up to eight years better and stronger, compared to living alone or aging in their homes,” added Melton.
Whether sharing table fellowship, lifelong learning, worship services, or social events, Melton said residents thrive when they can share these experiences with others and with their family and friends.
“The superhuman efforts of our staff kept spirits strong and positive throughout the height of the pandemic. We now recognize how an outdoor space, where our entire community could gather, would have strengthened personal and community well-being overall,” he said.
The new outdoor space will be nestled in the heart of the Covenant Village campus, allowing access – without limitation – from the Wellness Center, apartment residences, the Health Center (including memory care), and nearby cottages. It will transform an underutilized half-acre site to include a covered pavilion, terraced seating, walking paths, and outdoor recreational activities that altogether will:
- Encourage shared meals and social interaction to combat loneliness and isolation.
- Offer a visually appealing environment that helps to stimulate the senses and counteract the effects of aging.
- Help maintain mobility and balance, which are important for reducing the risk of falls.
- Expand access and interaction with campus green space, which calms the mind and reduces stress.
- Provide physical exercise, which improves memory and verbal expression, lowers agitation, and improves sleep habits
- Accommodate personal ambulatory assistive devices to support increased independence.
- Promote intergenerational connectivity with family-friendly spaces and activities.
The pandemic has had an impact on staffing nationwide, particularly in the healthcare industry. Covenant Village has worked to overcome this challenge with resilience. Melton anticipates the outdoor space will help emphasize the importance of health and wellness for staff as well as residents and may even become a reason why staff continue to build long tenures at Covenant Village.
“This is an exciting time for Covenant Village. Our Board and leadership are inspired to meet new expectations in senior living, while we remain grounded on the mission of our founders,” said Melton. “It is an honor to envision our future as a wellness-centered Life Plan Community with a partner whose invaluable legacy will contribute to making Covenant Village the place where life is filled with promise.”