To Dorothy Whitney Yamashita, a longtime independent living resident at Harvest Hill, it’s the close friendships and opportunities for involvement that have made her 15 years here so enriching.
Although her husband passed away as they were planning to move into the community, Dorothy decided to move ahead with their plan, so she did not have to live alone, and in part because her three daughters and grandchildren live in different states.
In the intervening years, Dorothy has found the personal relationships she was looking for, while becoming deeply involved in the Harvest Hill community.
“I served as president and as secretary of the residents’ association, and I served on the library board. I also started a gift shop,” said Dorothy, who is also an unofficial Harvest Hill historian. Over the years, the history committee has compiled content and photos for a three-volume memory album commemorating the lives of residents over the years.
“When I first moved here, I become good friends with two ladies on my floor who moved in on November 26, 1996, the day Harvest Hill opened, and I thought, ‘I have to save their stories,’” Dorothy said. “So the memory album was an organized attempt to record some of that resident history. Before quarantine, Dorothy had loved participating in resident activities, from book discussions to chorus practice to classes and events; now, she said she is happy that some of these are being added back as restrictions ease.
“I appreciate the vibrancy of the community, which you can see even during quarantine,” said Dorothy. “We’re able to move freely within the building while wearing our masks, and we have complete freedom to walk outside. It’s been good.”
In addition, residents were getting their meals delivered up until recently but can now have the option to eat in the dining room at socially distanced tables. Dorothy has also been glad to see Harvest Hill’s weekly social hour continue via a mobile happy hour cart.
For Dorothy, whose uncle had been a doctor at Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital, another major benefit of living here is the peace of mind of a strong medical community in town.
“I have been fortunate to be in good health, but it’s comforting to know we are very connected to the medical community here, with Dartmouth Hitchcock and our home hospital, Alice Peck Day,” she said.
“I also like knowing that the staff here cares about the residents and vice versa,” Dorothy added. “There are people who have worked here ever since it opened in 1996.
This sort of reciprocal relationship between residents and staff is evident in many ways, she said. Residents recently raised money to build an extended care unit; at the same time, residents feel comfortable engaging directly with management.
“I have been very impressed with the APD Lifecare board and with management,” Dorothy said. “As residents I feel like we have a certain amount of influence. For example, when a resident expressed interest in a putting green, they just went ahead and built one!”