New Renovations Help the Spirited Seniors at John Knox Village Pursue Their Creative Passions

| John Knox News

Our dynamic central Florida senior living community is home to some of the most creative people you’ll ever meet. Every day folks engage in pursuits that range from painting to designing stained glass panels to knitting and other textile arts. You’ll also hear great music echoing throughout our 200-acre campus, courtesy of our band and choir.

The John Knox Village of Central Florida team shares our residents’ commitment to their crafts. After all, integrating arts into retirement communities cultivates both cognitive and emotional dimensions of wellness. That’s why when we heard our in-house artists needed some extra room for their creativity to flourish, we were eager to make the renovations happen.

Fulfilling the Vision Required a True Collaborative Approach

Most of the renovations focused on frequently used spaces within the John Knox Village Centre and our Lester R. Barker Activity Center. Because there are many benefits of arts and crafts for seniors, the Barker Center already had a nicely appointed craft room. But as Director of Operations Mike Buxton explains, some improvements were in order.

“At the time, the Barker Center craft room only seated about 14 people and there wasn’t nearly enough space to store supplies like yarn and paint brushes,” Mike explains. “Also, our knitting club makes upwards of 100 shawls and blankets to give to the folks in assisted living at holiday time. And they all have to be stored somewhere!”

So how did Mike and his team know exactly what our community members wanted? They asked. “We actually formed a committee that met several times with the various clubs,” Mike says. “Lockers, tables and shelves were definitely high on their list, as well as more space to hold the many classes that integrate arts into our retirement community.”

“It was very collaborative,” Mike emphasizes. “We really tried to flesh out exactly what each group was looking for, so we could deliver a creative solution to what was needed.”

Renovations Create a “Win-Win” for Our Resident Artists and Musicians

Once Mike and his team had a clear understanding of what was needed, they set about bringing that vision to life with a plan that matched the creativity of our residents. Mike explains: “In a nutshell, we moved the craft room to the former Citrus dining venue, which had been closed since COVID-19. Then, we converted the existing craft room into a music room.”

When the big reveal happened, everyone agreed the new craft room was (pardon the pun) a work of art. For starters, it now accommodates up to 30 inspired seniors pursuing their passions, with areas equipped for specialties like fabrics, stained glass and stamp art. There’s also double the storage space and new lockers for class instructors. And since the space was already equipped with an extra-large sink, there’s more than enough room for cleaning brushes after a day spent beautifying a canvas.

Our music ensembles are playing a happy tune too, which is fantastic because engaging in music is associated with better brain health in older adults. “Before, everyone had to carry their instruments to one of our common areas for rehearsals. That’s no small feat for a tuba player,” Mike laughs. “Now, they have their own dedicated music room complete with an upright piano and whiteboard, so the musicians can collaborate more easily.

“I can’t wait until the next concert!”

Building Senior Connections Where Everybody Knows Your Name

You’ll find creativity of a different sort in our newly renovated Gathering Room, which has a storied history all its own. Tucked away near our Scoop ice cream shop, the Gathering Room was originally cobbled together by residents who’d meet for coffee, conversation and activities like jigsaw puzzles and book talks.

While the company was second to none, the Gathering Room was a hodge-podge of chairs, folding tables and coffee pots. So Mike stepped in and asked folks what his team could do to make the space brighter and more welcoming.

“Not surprisingly, there was no shortage of suggestions,” Mike laughs. “More comfortable seating. Extra bookshelves. A way to make coffee without having to bend down. And just like we did with the craft room, we met with residents several times to get a feel for what would make them happiest.”

Today, the Gathering Room is a cozy enclave where book enthusiasts, dog lovers, java aficionados and friends come together to strengthen social bonds. “We made it look like a coffee bar, complete with permanent coffee machines, additional bookshelves and specialized puzzle tables,” Mike says. “Sometimes it reminds me of the setting for a TV sitcom.”

Colorful display boards give the Gathering Room an even more personal touch. There, residents can share newspaper clippings, jokes, trivia questions, devotionals and much more. Many of the projects that people create in our renovated craft room also find their way to this warm and inviting space, proving once again that strengthening social connections is one of the many benefits of arts and crafts for seniors.

“That’s what I love most about working here,” Mike says. “Everyone really learns and grows together, feeding off each other in the most positive way.”

There’s Much More to Come… Stop by and See for Yourself

More exciting renovations are in the works at John Knox Village of Central Florida—including a top-to-bottom assisted living makeover and renewed independent living apartments that are larger and more breathtaking than ever. It’s the perfect backdrop for pursuing your own creative passions free from the hassles of yardwork, maintenance and other chores.

To learn more or to schedule a tour of our Orange City senior living community, call (386) 775-0788.