DMHC clinicians provide regular weekly visits to over 200 retirement communities throughout North Carolina.   In the Triangle, at Atria Oakridge, an Independent Living Community, DMHC’s Dr. Stephanie Perry is welcomed by residents every Wednesday, but her visits are just a small part of all that goes on in this friendly, vibrant living space.

In my role as a community liaison for DMHC, I have the great privilege of traveling to many of the wonderful communities we serve, which is how I found myself ushering in spring at a truly special place, the garden at Atria Oakridge. During my visits, I’ve toured nearly every inch of this community, enjoying the spacious lobby with its graciously high ceilings, interesting display of art works –including a bust of the first resident– and inviting, comfortable furniture, as well as the lovely apartments themselves, some of which are now available for retreat stays, but somehow, my guide and I always wind up in the garden.

On every deligAtria-Oakridgehtful stroll, I’ve rediscovered the magic that only garden paths provide; this one meanders with all the grace of a cool, pebbled stream, passing benches under cool shade, and finally leading to the sunlight of a patio graced with raised bed planting boxes.  Along the path, there is even a cairn. For those unfamiliar, the word comes from the Scottish-Gaelic; the inventive stacks of stones to which they refer are used as trail markers. Resident Betty Holloway was the first master gardener to become involved with tending the plants in the raised beds, flowers and vegetables, but now other residents help, some master gardeners, and some —as Atria personnel are quick to inform— are “just plain old country folks” with age-old wisdom who say digging in the dirt can cure the soul.

silver spoon awrdCommunity chefs, inspired by residents, have picked up trowels, themselves, and one has even used his own fresh produce in the Atria kitchen. Another, Chef Paul Williams, won this year’s Chef’s Challenge at the 6th annual Share to Care Fundraiser, a well-known annual benefit. A testament to culinary arts and gracious dining, the championship trophy, The Silver Spoon Award  —literally, a four foot tall silver spoon— is now being safeguarded by Atria Oakridge until next year’s competition. Visitors to the community can view it on display right inside the front doors.

While we may not all be born with a proverbial silver spoon in our mouth, Chef Williams has proven it’s never too late to win one, and that it can, indeed, be enjoyed later in life. From DMHC:  kudos to Atria Oakridge for winning this well-deserved trophy! We also thank the talented residents who’ve made the community garden such a perfect place to welcome the spring season, and we can only hope many visitors will tour the premises and reap the fruits by enjoying the spring flowers. At DMHC, we are extremely proud to be serving such an exemplary community!