After moving to Harvest Hill in July, independent living resident Gretchen Fairweather has only good things to say about it, from the community’s staff to the interesting residents, activity choices and delicious food, to her comfortable apartment.
“It’s a very friendly, warm environment, and there’s always a lot going on,” said Gretchen, 78. “The staff is terrific, and the food is unbelievable. I couldn’t get over it! I’ve made some good friends, and my apartment is the perfect size for me.”
According to Gretchen, she actually set her mind on moving to Harvest Hill years ago. Working in Lebanon, her daily drive by Mascoma Street took her past a large building site, which she assumed was an addition to Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital.
“I’d just drive by it and wonder what it was,” she said. “It got bigger and prettier, and then one day I just drove into the driveway and found out it was going to be a retirement community. I decided right then and there that’s where I was going to live when the time came.”
Born in Rochester, New York, Gretchen grew up in Pennsylvania and attended The University of Vermont. She started her career at a Philadelphia publishing house, and later worked at Woman’s Day Magazine in New York City. It was there she met her husband, then a student at Columbia University.
After her husband secured a job teaching at the University of Connecticut, Gretchen took a job at the Willimantic Chronicle as a newspaper reporter. She spent her later career as a station manager for radio stations in Connecticut and New Hampshire and supported her husband and their two children while he attended medical school.
“I loved the people and the personalities I encountered working in radio! You get one announcer who wants to be the next Wolfman Jack, another who wants to be the next bigshot news reporter,” said Gretchen. “It was a lot of fun and I made a lot of friends.”
After she retired from radio, she and her family opened a bed and breakfast in West Hartford, Vermont for six years. She went on to spend a lot of her time volunteering: as a trail guide at a local natural museum, in the cancer center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, and at David’s House, a residence for families of children being treated there.
“It’s been a good life,” she said. “I’ve had a lot of wonderful experiences, and I have no regrets.”
Now, at Harvest Hill, Gretchen loves to remain active and involved, just as she always has. She loves that there is always something going on, whether it’s movies, van trips, live entertainment, lectures, classes, clubs or something else. She currently belongs to a book club, attends three exercise classes a week, and likes taking advantage of the nearby hiking and biking trails.
Most of all, though, Gretchen appreciates those parts of the community you can’t see from the outside: the people who work there. They’re the ones who make Harvest Hill truly special, she said.
“The staff here are just wonderful, from the nurses to the cleaning crew, to the maintenance men, to the people who work in the office,” said Gretchen. “And I think every resident here would say the exact same thing.”