Creating Community at Arbour Trails

Regular ‘socials’ bring neighbours, families and team members together

By Kristian Partington

When you speak with Veronica Pettifer, she instantly seems like the type of person who would welcome a new family moving into her neighbourhood with a fresh-baked pie and a basket of homemade jams. 

Group of residents and team members posing for a photo in colourful hats
Team members and residents come together over tea and cucumber
sandwiches during the "Spring Fling Social" at Arbour Trails.

Working in housekeeping at The Village of Arbour Trails allows ample opportunity for Veronica’s friendly personality to help others feel at home, especially when it comes to the residents who’ve been moving into the newest neighbourhoods over the past few months.

It was Veronica who first approached recreation director Kim Cusimano about launching regular social gatherings where some of the established village residents can mingle with the people who recently moved in.

“It’s like meeting your neighbour over the fence and saying, ‘Hey, do you want to come over for a cup of tea?’ ” Veronica says. “I just thought it would be a relaxing environment, a way to meet your new neighbour or even an old neighbour.”

The gatherings have grown from about 35 people at the first event in the fall to more than 75 at recent gatherings. There’s always a different theme, from tea and cucumber sandwiches to the lemonade socials that will dominate the summer patio season. For Veronica, who was recently given one of four yearly success awards because of her natural ability to connect with residents, the social events are all about having fun and building community.

“It's also fantastic in another way, as it brings team members together and we form that sense of unity,” says Veronica. Some team members bake cookies while residents make the sandwiches, so she’s quick to point out that it’s a huge group effort to make these events a success.

Now that the summer weather has arrived, the team is looking forward to spending time in the rooftop terraces of the new section of the village and continuing to foster connections among all residents. Veronica says its rewarding when she sees people from all corners of the village greeting each other along Main Street, familiar with each other a little more, perhaps, because they connected at one of the events.

Veronica points out that all team members, regardless of role, are encouraged to offer insight into the enhancement of village life for each other and those they serve, and she was thankful for the chance to see an idea she had come to life with the support of so many others. 

“It was so nice to come into a village, a home, where everybody is equal,” she says. “There are no roles, we’re straight across the board, and we all work together as a team, which is amazing.”