Gail DuBose, a retirement living resident of Concordia Village of Tampa (CVT), never envisioned herself moving to an apartment on campus, despite volunteering at the community since 1998.
“I had a friend who worked here as an Activities Director, and she found out I was retired and wanted me to start playing piano at CVT,” she said. “So I started performing and helping out with different activities around campus.”
Gail continued to volunteer at CVT, and when her husband Johnny became ill in 2018, the couple decided that moving to a long-term care community was a necessity.
“We had to make difficult decisions quickly,” she explained. “Neither my husband or I were prepared at the time, and since I knew about the community, several marketing and activities staff members suggested moving here. I moved into a retirement living apartment in August 2018. I was hoping I would be able to get Johnny to move in, but he passed in October 2018.”
Even though Gail’s decision to move to CVT came at a difficult time in her life, she explains that the timing was a blessing, especially being able to live at the community now in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was the only decision at the time and ultimately God-given,” she said. “I honestly didn’t know where to go or what to do, but this was home to me. I didn’t envision myself living here, but then I go and look at other options, and there’s always a lot of fancier or bigger apartments out there - but I don’t need all of the stuff I’d be paying for. The thing about living here is that I know it’s safe. Had I been any place else or living at home I would have been alone and in an environment that wasn’t protected.”
Even though she’s a resident now, Gail has not stopped volunteering on campus. In fact, the pandemic has given her a new outlet to share her musical gifts with other residents in the community.
“When restrictions were put in place and we couldn’t gather in groups like we used to, I came up with a music on Fridays program using the campus TV station,” she said. “I perform from 10-11 and usually try to come up with a program. I like to do things that make people happy and smile, so I do a lot of the old-time things for singalongs and dance music. The question for me has always been how to reach people through music.”
Gail’s musical gifts are one of the many ways she stays involved on campus as well as within the Tampa community. Before the pandemic, she was actively involved with the Carolwood Community Chorus and the praise team at her church. Some of her hobbies include sewing and quilting, and before the pandemic she also performed in the “Rhythm Band” which is comprised of several residents on campus.
“I like to stay busy,” she said. “I’m very active in my church. Since the pandemic, I haven’t been able to attend services, but I have been teaching bible study on zoom. I sew for people, I work in the flea market on campus, help put furniture in our campus boutique and when we can start doing things again I’ll go back to volunteering outside of Concordia more.”
Despite the temporary restrictions currently in place, Gail notes that the residents and staff are an integral part of why she loves the community.
“The people here are wonderful,” she said. “This is truly an amazing place where people care for each other. I just wish that I could convince people my age to move to a place like this sooner. Then you can really have a fun environment and the opportunity to enjoy things more.”