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Aging with Dignity


Barbara Royster thrives in her role as a go-to resident at Village Crossroads. One of the first to move into the new facility in 2013, she made sure her apartment was on the first floor. The 79-year-old mother of five adult children, grandmother and great-grandmother to many, and active member of her church just loves being at the center of the action wherever she is. “I’ve always liked a lot of people,” she said. Her volunteer spirit is strong. She was a regular visitor at her grandmother’s nursing home, and continued visiting long after her grandmother’s passing.

“I got hooked on being nice to the people there,” she shared. “I just liked being around the people and helping out.” She brought that same spirit to Village Crossroads and relished convivial programs like the van service for twice weekly shopping trips with friends. Service Coordinators Karvis Higgins and Theresa Watson were thankful for Barbara’s help and initiative. They tapped Barbara to be a leader in the community’s Eating Together program. She initiated and led a weekly Bible study which attracted nearly a dozen residents of all faiths. “She’s very thoughtful,” Theresa explained. “When a neighbor was sick, she fed her cat. She’ll check in on a friend.” Karvis added, “For Eating Together, she was always there early to set up the room, serve the meals. She was helping us train volunteers to start up the program in another building. At the start of the pandemic, when we needed help giving out meals, she was eager to help.”

With seniors among the most vulnerable to COVID, the community took no chances, and were proactive in keeping residents safe. “When this thing happened, they had to lock up the room we used for Bible study,” Barbara said. “All the other community rooms were locked. Before this happened, I was enjoying myself.” With daily meal deliveries, weekly grocery boxes, and creative ideas like plans for “inside out trick-or-treating” at Halloween, the service coordinators have worked harder than ever to combat social isolation among residents like Barbara, and find new ways to provide services they depend on. Pen-pal programs with students from Johns Hopkins and University of Maryland have created new connections for seniors who are missing visits from children and grandchildren. But everyone is looking forward to the day when it’s safe for the community to gather together again. “I keep saying,” said Barbara, “‘This, too, shall pass.’”