Few residents of Chicago retirement communities can say they perform at halftime for a NCAA college basketball game. But 14 who do are residents at The Merion in Evanston. The senior living community has partnered with nearby Northwestern University for a cheerleading adventure.
“It was a little nerve-wracking at the beginning, but it was so cool being out there,” says Merion resident Loretta Jacobs after her time on court. She’s one of the members of The Merion Senior Wildcat Dance Team that performed alongside the Northwestern University cheerleading team for a 2019 game in Welsh-Ryan Arena. “We’ve had a lot of fun, and I loved it!”
The Merion residents and Northwestern cheerleading team practiced the dance routine for weeks leading up to the big game. The work paid off with rousing applause – and lasting friendships.
“It’s not just about the dance, it’s about the relationships we develop,” says Antoinette White, one of the Northwestern cheerleaders. “We become friends with them. They look up to us, even though we look up to them too. It’s a nice experience.”
For Loretta Jacobs and other residents at The Merion, it’s one of many opportunities to stay connected that come with city living. The senior living community is steps away from shopping, entertainment, the Metro, restaurants, theaters, a magnificent library, Northwestern University, and the lakefront. Just 12 miles north of downtown Chicago, Evanston offers a rich diversity of cultural and learning opportunities.
“I love being in Evanston because of the many opportunities to be involved and volunteer,” Loretta says. “I volunteer regularly with an organization that feeds people in need. Moving to The Merion has opened doors to so many meaningful and fulfilling opportunities.”
Lifelong learning among friends.
Fellow Merion dance team member and Northwestern alum Nani Boyce finds other benefits to being in the center of so many opportunities.
“The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute that Northwestern offers helps you learn something new, keep your brain sharp and eyes wide open,” Boyce says. “You meet people and make new friends, and it adds spice to your life.”
The motto for this Northwestern program designed for older adults is, “Curiosity Never Retires.” The cooperative learning community generates an exciting and intellectually challenging curriculum of more than 100 study groups per semester.
Keeping family and friends close.
“Being a longtime resident of Evanston, I knew my mom would enjoy living at The Merion,” says Blythe Bauer.
Living only four blocks away, Blythe and her sister say the senior living community’s features and central location benefit both residents and their families.
“After looking at other places, this proved to be the best situation for her, and the location makes it easy and fun for both of us. I enjoy walking to the lake, shopping locally, stopping by to eat, and attending various events with her at The Merion,” Blythe says. “It’s great that I get to see her making new friends and still thriving as an independent person, plus she has the security of being close to a family member.”