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posted: 5/12/2014 5:16 PM

Active Residents Drive the Many Programs at Monarch Landing

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  • Leila Zweibel (left) and Kay Filkins (right)

    Leila Zweibel (left) and Kay Filkins (right)

ivy Marketing Group

The outgoing message in the office of Sherry DeFillippo, lifestyle coordinator at Monarch Landing senior living community in Naperville, tells potential speakers and entertainers that Monarch Landing has a "resident-run" entertainment committee. That's because the culture at Monarch Landing is, and always has been, that residents themselves steer and nurture the many programs and activities in their vibrant community. "I could not do my job as effectively if I didn't have the support of our residents in our activities," said DeFillippo, who has been on staff at Monarch Landing since it opened eight years ago. "From the beginning, the model has been that our residents take ownership of program options at Monarch Landing. They are such independent people with so many interests and hobbies, they tell us what they want to do, rather than being told what there is to do."

According to Kate Carmichael, who has lived at Monarch Landing for the past six years, "When I first visited this community, the wide variety of programs and activities astounded me. I thought, 'This is great! When I retire, I'll have so many interesting things to do.' The fact that I could play a part in organizing activities really appealed to me, too."

On any given day of the week, morning to night, Monarch Landing's event calendar includes upwards of 20 different events and activities. Included are various fitness, health and wellness offerings, interfaith worship and Bible studies, billiards, board and card games, puzzles and mind challenges, educational lectures and speakers, computer club, book club, political awareness group, art, music and dance classes, concerts and movies, social gatherings, ad infinitum. Add to that the many things in which people are involved outside of Monarch Landing, such as hikes and bike rides, a travel club that takes people across time zones and oceans, and a mentor partnership with North Central College that brings residents and students together for intergenerational learning opportunities. And the list goes on…and on. Behind these ample opportunities are the many residents who establish and keep them going, eager to share their talents, gifts and expertise in so many ways.

Kate Carmichael, for one, was instrumental in launching Monarch Landing's newly automated library of nearly 6,000 titles, along with retired librarian Jackie Plourde and a committee of dedicated others. Carmichael, a former technical writer, also steers the committee that puts together Monarch Landing's annual resident handbook and pictorial resident directory. In addition, she lends her computer graphics skills to media for Monarch Landing's Treasure Chest resale shop and is an avid book club member. Residents Leila Zweibel, Rita Hardin and Joan Leyden got the travel club off the ground; Robert Rickert teamed with a North Central College student to establish the mentor program, and Kay Filkins arranges for dozens of Monarch butterflies to be released on Grandparents' Day each year. While residents are keenly aware of the "old people" stereotype associated with Bingo, resident Rita Roberts finally brought the game to Monarch Landing, with smashing success.

Through bi-monthly meetings with professionals in her position from other retirement communities, DeFillippo has discovered that the philosophy of residents creating and being personally invested in programs and activities is unique to Monarch Landing. "People are always in awe of what we're doing here, but it's just part of what we do and everyone is happier for it," she said.

Monarch Landing is a continuing care retirement community located on a scenic campus in Naperville, Illinois-named "one of America's best places to live and retire" by Modern Maturity, and "the best city for early retirement" by Kiplinger. Monarch Landing currently offers independent living, promoting a vibrant life style for active seniors. Upon completion of The Springs at Monarch Landing which is currently under construction, the community will also offer assisted living memory support, rehabilitation and skilled nursing services, thus providing complete continuing care for seniors. Monarch Landing is owned by Senior Care Development and managed by Life Care Services. For additional information visit or call 630-548-0400.