Making new friends can be tough in any new situation – new job, new school, or moving to a new place. You don’t know anyone, and it can be hard to talk to someone new, often leaving you feeling lonely. Cliques can be intimidating and seem unapproachable. What a resident created at Edgehill senior living community in Stamford has turned out to be an extraordinary and heartwarming idea to prevent this from happening to new residents. The story begins when Phyllis Jacob, resident and vice president of the resident council, was introduced to a new resident who didn’t know anyone and had no one to sit with during meals, finding it very difficult to make friends.
Phyllis, in her empathetic nature, was shocked that a resident had this experience and immediately took action. She invited the new resident to sit with her at dinner, and the initial idea of Table 61 (now known as The Friendship Table) was born.
Phyllis and close friend Joy Workman were successful in securing a designated table in the expansive Edgehill dining room: Table 61. It was reserved for residents who didn’t have a friend to sit with but wanted a companion. In the beginning, Table 61 didn’t have the type of success Phyllis had hoped for. Residents would keep each other company by sitting at the table, but conversations were stale and forced. New relationships weren’t forming as she’d hoped, and she began to feel defeated. Non-believers told her the idea would fail; they had tried in the past and been unsuccessful.
It was time to re-strategize. What was missing? What wasn’t working? Racking her brain, she realized that her friends, who were as loving and active in the community as she was, either weren’t aware of the concept or not actively involved. She created a host system, where a resident would sign up every day to meet and greet the newcomers and facilitate conversation. The host or hostess would prepare talking points to ensure there was always something to talk about. It was their job to scout the dining room to make sure anyone who looked lonely had a friend to talk to. And so The Friendship Table was born.
Today, there’s a long list of big-hearted people, like Phyllis, who sign up every week to host The Friendship Table. Widows, new residents, and those whose friends may be gone for the night, arrive early just to get a seat. The table often overflows to two tables, and there’s a long list of hosts who sign up in advance.
Edgehill is a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) in Stamford, Connecticut. Together with Benchmark Senior Living, Edgehill offers exceptional maintenance-free senior housing, a wide variety of premium services and amenities, and a full continuum of on-site healthcare - all part of the Edgehill Advantage. Add the benefits of Life Care living, and it's easy to see why we set the standard for retirement living in Southern Fairfield County. For more information, visit edgehillcommunity.com.