Written by Amy Andrews
For over thirty years, Southminster has been a leader in the field of aging, providing innovative living solutions and care at their home campus on Park Road. Two years ago, Tracy McGinnis, Southminster’s Director of Philanthropy, saw an opportunity for Southminster to help in developing and expanding programming to seniors living at The Retreat at Renaissance West.
“We have a long history of engaging within our community, but several years ago we made a concerted effort to focus on work outside of the walls of the organization,” said McGinnis. “We are committed to replicating our good work and expanding out into the Charlotte community.”
The partnership between The Retreat at Renaissance West and Southminster is based on the goal of expanding the quality of programming that The Retreat is able to offer to older adults of differing interests, abilities and ages.
“We didn’t just want to host an activity, we wanted to truly build community and that takes time,” said McGinnis. “When we first started, we piloted with health and wellness and were simply getting a feel for how much engagement The Retreat wanted. We also brought in our partners at UNC Charlotte to help with program development and evaluation under the leadership of Dr. Montoro-Rodriquez.”
Southminster has since expanded the partnership to further health and wellness programming and arts and social engagement as well as bringing in additional community partners to serve The Retreat Community.
One of their most popular events was an intergenerational iPad donation for seniors and students living at Renaissance West. This program was intended to increase technology access for seniors while providing an opportunity for students to train seniors on how to use the technology.
They also hosted several community dinners where the Southminster culinary team cooked a meal and brought it to Renaissance West residents during the holidays.
Another facet of the partnership is that Southminster serves as a connector for Renaissance West, bringing in community partners such as the Charlotte Symphony and the Bechtler Museum.
The partnership continues to evolve even in today’s COVID climate. Despite the limitations of current in-person engagement, The Bechtler Museum recently made a drop-off of mobile art kits for residents. Southminster is in continual contact with The Retreat and they are keeping the lines of communication open to assess next steps. They are currently talking about ways to purchase fitness trackers to keep residents motivated and moving in these uncertain times.
“Many Retreat residents have limited support and aren’t able to drive. We’ve been working to enrich their lives, but all of our in-person work came to a screeching halt with COVID,” said McGinnis. “Access to food and keeping a stocked pantry is critical right now. We set up an ask through Southminster at the start of quarantine and were able to send over a two-week food supply.”
Southminster believes so strongly in their relationship with The Retreat that they plan to make an additional food purchase for The Retreat’s food pantry if they win the SHARE Charlotte $5K grant for the month of July.
“Basic Resources, grant opportunities for seniors or senior programming are few and far between,” said Detrina Little, Director of Neighborhood Engagement for Renaissance West. “Through our partnership with Southminster, Renaissance West Community Initiative (RWCI) has been able to bridge a gap for seniors and provide socialization activities and help get basic needs met,” she added. “RWCI rely on the Southminster partnership to help create sustainable resources in the senior community and senior leadership roles.”
“We are proud of the relationship we’ve built,” McGinnis added. “Our staff and residents are invested in maintaining and building on it in any way that we can.”
VOTE NOW: Southminster is in the running to win $5K this month thanks to the Amy and Brian France Foundation who have partnered with SHARE Charlotte for this year’s Spotlight Series and YOU can help when you VOTE NOW! You can also check out the other organizations eligible to win this month’s prize, here!