The term “Easter” conjures up all kinds of pleasing images – bright floral print dresses, straw hats, baskets filled with colorful eggs, fragrant bouquets of tulips, lilies and daffodils, and of course, chocolate rabbits just waiting to have their ears bitten off.
Chocolate is just the beginning of the mouth-watering foods that come to mind at Easter. Honey-glazed ham, fresh garden salads, steamed asparagus, deviled eggs and strawberry shortcake are a few of the delectable items you may find on brunch and dinner menus at Sunshine Retirement Living communities across the country.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Easter without some exciting egg hunts. For example, on Thursday, April 6, Park Wood is getting a jump on things by partnering with the City of Surprise in Arizona to host a visit from the Easter bunny and a grand egg hunt in their courtyard from 9:00-11:00 am. A week later, Dunwoody Pines in Dunwoody, Georgia will have a big Easter egg hunt of its own. Both should provide a great opportunity for residents to interact with their grandchildren.
Keeping the Faith
But as delightful as the food, fun and festivities of Easter may be, they don’t overshadow the religious significance of the season that is celebrated at many of our communities. Ashley Hurd, Activity Director at Dunwoody Pines, tries to make sure residents of all faiths are able to worship as they choose.
“I have a small committee of residents that helps me make phone calls to local churches to get preachers to come out and do church services,” she says. “We can offer Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, you name it. We have weekend bus trips that take the Jewish residents to synagogue on Saturday mornings and people of other faiths to church on Sunday mornings.”
What’s more, Ashley leads a weekly Bible Study session on a specific topic, providing residents with a handout for deeper study of the scriptures throughout the week. She also arranges for Catholic Communion and provides a Vespers Service every Sunday.
Dunwoody Pines residents find immeasurable value in these regular religious gatherings.
“It means a lot to me that the Ashley, the administration and the bus drivers take me to my synagogue every Sabbath,” says Stephanie Maya. “This kind act fills my heart with spiritual joy. I couldn’t do it without it.”
“I go to every Bible Study that I can,” says Ellen Lewis. “It helps me to forget all of my problems and just let God handle them.”
Another resident, Novella Tatum, concurs, “I find that if I don’t go to church on Sunday, I feel like my week just doesn’t go as well.”
Seeking and Finding
With both Passover and Easter right around the corner, Ashley has made special arrangements that will not only benefit residents, but the entire community.
“In the Jewish faith, Passover (‘or Pesach’) lasts from April 10-18,” notes Ashley. “So on April 10, we will have a ‘Big Clean of the Chametz,’ which is the removal of leavened food that is forbidden during Passover. All of that food will be collected and donated to the Dunwoody Methodist Food Pantry.”
The Passover celebration will continue with a small Sedar Feast and readings from the Haggadah on April 11, and it will finish with “Macarun Monday” on April 17. Macaruns are a tasty Kosher treat that is perfectly fine to have during Passover.
“In addition to our Easter egg hunt on April 13, residents will be able to make Easter wreaths to hang on their doors on April 14,” says Ashley. “And on April 16, we will have an Easter Church Service with Pastor Valerie Selby.”
Needless to say, the special Easter celebrations, Passover observances and weekly gatherings at Dunwoody Pines are just a small sample of the religious activities available at Sunshine Retirement communities. Activity Directors are always open to expanding your community’s offerings any time of year to accommodate different religious customs, traditions and dietary needs. Even if they include eating chocolate rabbits.