A Place to Live Your Best Life03/25/2022 11:14AM ● By Dina Grace Sciortino
What started as an almost utopistic idea to create an inclusive community where one could live out their golden years enjoying life to its fullest is now home to close to 400 people who do just that. With its recent renovations and strategic planning, Wake Robin, Vermont's first life plan community, is even better poised to continue providing residents with an idyllic and active lifestyle along with quality care.
Not Your Typical Retirement Home
Wake Robin isn't your typical continuing care retirement community (CCRC). It sits on a sprawling 136-acre site in Shelburne, encircled by wilderness and four miles of wooded walking trails. Residents live in the independent living cottages or apartments and enjoy robust amenities and activities that allow for enjoyment, relaxation, and socialization inside the community and in the surrounding environs. Residents maintain their physical health in the fitness room and heated pool or with a yoga session or tennis match. The afternoon can be spent out on the pickle ball court or engaging in activities like gardening, silversmithing, beekeeping, maple syrup production, English country dance, or singing in the choir.
Farm-to-table dinners can be savored in the Maple Leaf dining room or off campus for a night on the town. There are ample volunteer opportunities within Wake Robin and in the outside community. Residents have the freedom to be as engaged in community life as they desire or live a more private life of their preference. Those who need additional care, or need more assistance as they age, can receive health services at the Linden Health Center. The center also has private residential suites for those needing residential, skilled nursing or memory care.
Culture of Community
"Wake Robin is a wonderful place. It was organized by local individuals who loved Vermont and worked with their friends, family, and colleagues around the kitchen table to make this community possible," MaryBeth Dudley, Wake Robin's director of marketing, says. "The founders designed the physical structure of WakeRobin to be sure that everyone felt part of the community, no matter where their pillow was to lay their heads at night. This culture continues today. You know you're part of a community, you know you're included, and that's what makes it so special."
The nonprofit CCRC was formed by Stokes and Mary Jane Gentry and 32 others in the early 80s with a "belief in the dignity, independence, and worth of each individual." They decided to name their community after a trillium wildflower that is the first to pop up around the campus in spring. This way, the image of the red wake-robin would remind them of spring's growth and renewal, even during the coldest winter days. It would be almost a decade later when residents could move in and make Wake Robin their home. The community arrived at its current incarnation in three phases. The first phase built cottages, two apartment buildings, the Community Center, and the Linden Health Center.
Past, Present, and Future
"The Community Center is really the hub of the community. This is where all social activities generally happen. The pool is here, dining venues, library, fitness center, large meeting room, lounges, conference rooms, workshop, art studio, etc.," MaryBeth says. "When you come to the Community Center for an event or even just to pick up your mail, you are sure to run into your neighbors for a friendly hello!"
Phase two was completed in 2007 when more cottages were added, along with the expansion of the Linden Health Center and a partial renovation of the Community Center. The third phase, also known as the Maple project, was recently completed in 2020 and involved a total renovation and expansion of both the Community Center and Linden Health Center. It also created a new apartment building.
One thing that hasn't changed over the years is the commitment to sustainability. They were given the Governor's Award of Environmental Excellence in 2012. In 2016, Wake Robin's Energy Use and Conservation Plan was chosen by the International Council on Active Aging as North America's most innovative green program in the active-aging industry. The community utilizes solar energy and has plans in place to reduce waste and improve energy efficiency. They've managed to reduce their hot water consumption by 316,000 gallons and annual carbon footprint by 58,000 pounds. Residents use environmentally friendly practices to care for the 136-acre campus. Wake Robin is currently working on a strategic plan to guide them into the future with environmental stewardship and community wellness as key components.
"Both residents and staff keep sustainability top of mind. This is just our way of life. Recycling, composting, organic foods, local and fresh products, energy efficiency. These are everyday words in the community. Always have been, and always will be," says MaryBeth. "While we are constantly looking to improve and grow, we are taking this time to focus on our community well-being in the current and future years. These past two years have proven in many ways difficult for all of us, and again the care and the respect of this community has helped move Wake Robin forward."
200 Wake Robin Drive
(802) 264 - 5100