DMHC clinicians provide regular visits to over 200 unique retirement communities throughout North Carolina. The second Thursday of every month is special for me because I head for Independence Village of Olde Raleigh, a lively community neatly tucked in an enclave on Charles B. Root Wynd, near where Duraleigh and Edwards Mill intersect, in the heart of vibrant, bustling North Raleigh.
Upon arrival, my first stop is a networking group for area professionals graciously hosted by Marketing Director, Roger Gore. The event is testament to the active engagement and community mindedness of Independence Village administrators who insist on keeping a finger on the pulse of the senior service community and brainstorming ways to improve the senior living experience.
After hot coffee, hotter pastries, and welcoming warm fellowship, I pencil in time to linger because Executive Director, Art Rijkse, has encouraged such a homey atmosphere. Here, Activities Director Connie Keller’s talents truly shine. On most Thursdays, arts and crafts vendors display wares, enabling residents to find the perfect gift for friends or family. On my last visit, Rosemary Butterfield Lea of Beyond Pearls was selling one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces and colorful scarves so bright they could turn any Thursday into a sun-shiny day no matter what the actual weather.
And then there’s dancing! Milton Zschiedrich, Zeke for short, plays piano on Thursdays from about 9:30 to 11. Music is a generational affair for the Zschiedrich’s, and Zeke grew up listening to local talent performing in his living room. A native Louisianan, he first came to Raleigh to join a son who’s also musically inclined, but soon felt homesick for the bayou and began entertaining at La Volta, a restaurant on Fayetteville Street that was later renamed The Twisted Mango .
When that gig didn’t fully satisfy Zeke’s desire to play in more intimate settings, he auditioned at Independence Village. Blown away by his talent, Connie Keller moved quickly to sign him up! He plays and volunteers in other Triangle communities, too, and now things have come full circle. Zeke’s dad, Milton Rich of the Dixie Land Saints –he’s in the Jazz Hall of Fame– has moved to Independence Village to set up his drum beside his son’s piano. Father and son are playing together again, and the music they make is food for the soul.
Besides having to leave, there’s only one downside to these marvelous Thursday’s— not seeing the Doctors Making Housecalls clinicians! Dr. Amit Kalra and Nurse Practitioner, Julianne Beach, visit on Wednesdays and Fridays, respectively, so they miss the Thursday morning fun, but they assure me Independence Village delivers activities that rival Thursdays every single day of the week. In addition to all the desired amenities, the community has landscaped grounds, a computer area, well-stocked library, special provisions for guests & more, so there’s always something to do!
Independence Village welcomes visitors and guests may drop by anytime. Art Rijkse and Roger Gore will be happy to arrange a tour, or offer more information on their “Easy Stay Program” designed for short-term residency. And if you just feel like dancing, Zeke starts playing at about 9:30. Maybe I’ll see you there! Or in September when Independence Village celebrates its 25th year anniversary. No doubt, it will be a party not to be missed!