Arts and Adventure: Clark Community Residents Keep Their Eyes Set on the Horizon

Keller Lake at Clark Retirement Communities

The following post is sponsored by Clark Retirement Community

Phil Palmer has spent three years painting the wildlife native to Keller Lake. He mostly sees waterfowl, but other animals scurry out of the reeds or dart across the lawn of the 40-acre Clark Retirement Community campus where he lives.

Palmer exhibited his series of paintings during Clark’s annual resident art show. For him, spending time painting means indulging in relaxation while simultaneously keeping his mind sharp.

Phil & Nancy Palmer relocated to Grand Rapids after several years in Washington, D.C.
Phil & Nancy Palmer relocated to Grand Rapids after several years in Washington, D.C.

“I’ve always been a busy person and haven’t really indulged myself in something I truly enjoy. It’s extremely relaxing — you forget all your cares and get focused and involved. Focusing can be a little difficult at my age so it’s a wonderful thing to be able to do,” Palmer said.

Since moving to Keller Lake, Palmer and his wife, Nancy, have been able to enjoy a lot of new activities, like painting, as well as old favorites, such as attending symphony performances and theater productions.

The couple, with roots in Lansing and Munising, respectively, made their home in Washington, D.C. for several years, where they regularly attended concerts at the Kennedy Center and national tours of Broadway productions at the National Theatre. Gallery outings were often part of their weekends as well.

When the Palmers returned to Michigan, a chance trip past Keller Lake with their son and daughter-in-law led them to take a closer look. With its scenic views and glimpses of wildlife, the Palmers decided to purchase a town home and start the next phase of their lives.

Phil Palmer said at Clark Retirement Community he finally has time to indulge in his artistic passions.
Phil Palmer said at Clark Retirement Community he finally has time to indulge in his artistic passions.

“We knew it was time to move. My wife has serious mobility problems and I’m her full-time caregiver. We lived in a four-level home in the D.C. suburbs of Maryland; it was no longer negotiable and could not be modified,” Palmer said.

What he truly enjoys about living at Keller Lake is being in Grand Rapids. Being part of Clark Retirement Community has allowed him and his wife to continue to enjoy many of the same activities they enjoyed in D.C. through its Life Enrichment programs.

“The most important thing to us is the fact that we live in Grand Rapids, because Grand Rapids is a cultural community like none other in Michigan,” Palmer said. “Living in the Clark community here, it’s very beneficial to have the arts enrichment programs.”

Finding Opportunities for Adventure

At age 69, Sandy Pickett went bungee jumping in New Zealand. She likes adventure.

A Clark Retirement Community resident for the past seven years, Pickett believes staying active and taking advantage of opportunities to get out and do things are essential.

Her life has been marked by trips all over the globe, so it’s no surprise that at age 79 Pickett is still looking for what’s next and enjoys outings that take her out of Grand Rapids.

Like Palmer, Pickett enjoys indulging in the arts, too. While on campus, she spends time tatting (a technique for crafting lace), crocheting and knitting — all of which she taught herself — using her many skills to create afghans for fellow residents at Clark. She provides them as gifts, usually when someone is sick or feeling lonely.

“I give it to them with a poem or saying,” she explained. She also takes time to teach others how to crochet and knit.

Clark Retirement Community allows her to keep her eye on the horizon, she says, by offering her opportunities on campus as well as regular outings to destinations throughout Grand Rapids and beyond. In particular, Pickett is looking forward to upcoming bus trips to Detroit, Michigan and Williamston and Louisville, Kentucky as a result of a new partnership between Clark and United Methodist Church.

“That is going to be fun,” she said. “You have to be involved here, but you also have to get out and be involved in the larger community.” Clark enables her to do both.

Palmer agrees: “It’s a wonderful place to live.”

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