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Home Sweet Home Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

The word “community,” like many words in the English language, has more than one interpretation. A community may be identified as a geographical location—a physical infrastructure of streets, parks and buildings, defined by tangible brick and mortar structures—but a sense of community is often emotional, intangible, and much more difficult to define; it is what makes an address a home, and not just a street location.

The concept of high-rise living—people literally living on top of each other—or across a privacy fence in condo association living, doesn’t automatically equate to a sense of community; in fact, the close proximity sometimes has opposite effect. The reality is, residents with hectic schedules and demanding careers, or those who are continuing their education and/or raising children, often have minimal time or interest in socializing with their neighbors.

If a sense of community has value—both real and perceived—what is the best way to achieve this network of support and communication? What steps should an HOA take to foster this intangible benefit? What, if any role, should association managers play in building community awareness? What can busy residents contribute to improving the quality of life in the place they call home?

Benefits of Community Living

Audrey Davis-Stok, lifestyle director for Del Webb, a company that specializes in developing active over-55 adult homeowner associations across the country, coordinates a wide variety of clubs, special interest groups, and seminars for Del Webb residents. Experts have seen positive results when committees are formed to identify and implement programs within the community. 

“What makes us unique is that we...foster a concept of lifestyle programming,” says Davis-Stok. “We have charter clubs, and those are clubs that are voluntarily run by residents. They provide an abundance of activities and events. We have an activities club that does things like wine dinners, bus trips to museums, and meet-and-greet parties. Plus we have daily activities like mahjong and bridge; people come in and out of the clubhouse all day to participate.”

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