Those who love working and living at The Village of St. Edward are finding joy again in the things they love most

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With locations in Fairlawn, Wadsworth and Green, the Villages offer all the comforts of home, with the chance for social interaction in an environment that fosters independence, wellness and safety.

By Patricia Nugent

Everything at The Village of St. Edward revolves around helping its residents live their best life. The communities offer a vibrant style of independent living, with the option to move along their journey through assisted living and memory care if necessary.

With locations in Fairlawn, Wadsworth and Green, the Villages offer all the comforts of home, with the chance for social interaction in an environment that fosters independence, wellness and safety.

“It feels wonderful to have come through the pandemic and finally return to normal activities,” says Megan Bright, corporate director of marketing and sales. “Seeing the smiles on our residents’ faces as they re-emerge makes it all worthwhile.”

She says that over the past year, the staff went above and beyond the call of duty to follow safety protocols, yet still help residents thrive and stay social. They even managed to welcome many new members to the community during this challenging time.

Staying Engaged
According to Ashley Watson, the director of resident life at the Wadsworth location, the first month coming out of Covid-19 was a joyful time of getting back into the swing of daily activities.

“After being cooped up for so long, everyone is enjoying the change of pace,” she says. “We’re taking weekly trips to places like the library and lunch spots.”

There’s plenty to be involved in on the premises as well.

“Our residents love playing games like bingo, trivia, Jeopardy and Family Feud, and enjoying fitness pursuits like cardio drumming, which is new and fun,” she says. “And our themed Happy Hours are a big hit with residents.”

She notes that they plan their schedule around the individual likes and interests of residents, “customizing projects to their bucket lists.”

The cooking club enjoys making things like homemade ice cream. And the garden club keeps the courtyard colorful and full of life.

In addition to the men’s and ladies’ clubs, happy hours, daily exercise classes and a bevy of field trips and shopping excursions at the Green location, Director of Resident Life Melissa Strainer reports residents really enjoy the entertainers she brings in for the various events, including pianists, guitarists, singers and accordion players.

“Our residents are super social and enjoy any chance to gather,” says Melissa. “Even our birthday parties each month that celebrate everyone with a birthday that month have become quite the parties, with cupcakes and festive decorations.”

Initially hesitant about moving, Brenda, 82, I fell in love with The Village of St. Edward as soon as she did. She’s a member in the painting club.

Meet a Few of the Residents
On any given day, walking through the halls, rooms, walkways and gardens at The Villages, you’ll encounter an eclectic group of residents. Here are a few of their stories, in their own words:

Brenda, 82, Wadsworth

“I’ve always loved the outdoors. Before moving here a year ago, I lived in a condo that was surrounded by trees. All the walkways and trees really drew me to this place.

To be honest, I don’t really think of myself as an old person, so I wasn’t looking forward to living in a senior care facility. But I got in a minor car accident because I fell asleep while waiting in a stationary line, as I have sleep apnea and don’t get enough sleep. I had to stop driving and that made it difficult to live on my own.

Most of my family live an hour away, so they would have to drive to pick me up for family dinners. And I had a fall on my porch, which caused a concussion and was a bit of a wakeup call.

Even though I was initially hesitant about moving here, as soon as I did, I fell in love with this place and all the pleasant people, each so thoughtful and kind. The people who work here couldn’t be nicer either.

Thanks to all the things offered, I stay very active, going out to lunch and shopping trips. I do chair yoga and belong to the garden club. My favorite activity is the art group. I taught art at the elementary school level. Watercolors were always my favorite medium, but it’s fun to explore acrylic paints, too.

They bring in great entertainment as well. Last night a food truck joined us, and there was an excellent steel drum band playing outdoors.

I’m originally from England. In 1962, I went to visit my sister and her husband, who had emigrated to Canada, and eventually the United States. I was just going to see what this place was all about but ended up staying 50 years.”

Bob, 91, enjoys the interesting conversations while being a member of the men’s club. He also participates in Bible study.

Robert (Bob), 91, Wadsworth
“What made the Villages very inviting to me was the faith aspect. There’s mass in the chapel and we pray the rosary every day. Sister Marilyn is here for Bible study and other spiritual talks.

Everyone is very encouraging for us to pursue our interests. I’ve always wanted to paint, so I went to the management and asked if we could start a painting class. They said sure and we bought all the materials. There are six people in the group. We meet once a week and follow lessons in acrylics, painting landscapes.

I’m also part of the men’s club. We meet weekly and have interesting conversations.

In addition to painting and other activities, I enjoy going on the field trips. I’m looking forward to the next one to the MAPS Air Museum at the Akron-Canton Airport. It serves as a center for aviation history.

The facility is very nice and well kept. It’s comfortable and feels like home. There’s something to do every day if you want. The other people who live here, and the staff, go out of their way to be nice to you. I’ve made many new friends.”

When it came time for Dr. Vasant Chand, 92, to retire, he and his son toured The Village of St. Edward and knew right away it would be his home.

Dr. Vasant Chand, 92, Fairlawn
“I have a unique perspective about The Village of St. Edward because as a doctor who practiced internal medicine for 35 years, I had many patients here. I was always impressed with the care.

When it came time for me to retire, and then move onto senior care myself, my son and I toured this place and we knew right away it would be my home.

Before the pandemic hit, I loved going on trips with Father Novak. He is very interesting and knowledgeable, and knows so much about history. We get to go on excursions that involve lunch and then walking tours of churches in the area.

At 92, I am lucky to be in very good health. I walk a lot through the grounds here and I try to do my best to help others who might need it. Volunteering gives me great mental satisfaction.

Tennis is my favorite sport. Although I no longer play it, I enjoy watching it on TV, rooting for my favorite player, Rafael Nadal.

Back in India, before I came to the United States, my family owned a pharmaceutical company that sold medicine around the world. I ran it after my father’s death, and now my brothers and their children run it. The company employs 3,000 people.

I received my medical degree in India and emigrated here when I was 35 years old. My son and daughter are both doctors. Today, I think of Akron as my first home.”

Marge, 94, moved to The Village of St. Edward in November of 2019 after she realized living at her house had become a burden. She’s pictured with Resident Life Director Melissa Strainer.

Marge, 94, Green
“As soon as I walked through the doors here, it felt like home, with the beautiful and welcoming décor, not at all institutional. I moved here in November of 2019.

While the pandemic may have been a trying time, I feel that it bonded the residents to each other and to the staff in a unique way. We depended on each other a lot and came through with flying colors.

The people couldn’t be more caring or competent, just a delight to be with.

I’ve been a widow for 27 years and although I was accustomed to living alone, as soon as I had to stop driving, it felt like my independence was taken from me. I felt isolated and lonesome. The place I used to love, my home, had become a burden.

My three children live in the area, as do many of my six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. They love visiting The Village.

I’ve made many great friends, and enjoy playing games like pokeno, trivia and bingo. Since I’m a big reader, I can’t wait for the book club to start again this month. It’s important at my age to put forth the effort to keep challenging my mind.

The other ladies and I have had a ball going on little shopping trips to places like Hobby Lobby.

I am not Catholic, but that doesn’t mean that this faith-based facility doesn’t meet my spiritual needs. There’s a Protestant service every Sunday. It’s welcoming, and you’ll often find Catholics going to the Protestant services and vice versa. Sr. Marilyn is wonderful, offering Bible study and sitting down with us to have inspirational chats.”

Following a Faith-Based Mission
The faith-based, not-for-profit facility caters to the physical, spiritual and social needs of its residents through mass, praying the rosary, Bible study groups and spiritual pursuits.

In keeping with its Catholic values and commitment to the community, they will never turn anyone away if they outlive their funds.

Resident Life Director Ashley Watson (right) stops by Independent Living resident Vi’s apartment to head to a party at The Village of St. Edward.

Delish Dishes and Sound Nutrition
A degree from a culinary institute in Connecticut, followed by chef positions in Italy, instilled in Will Henry a fine appreciation for the freshest ingredients and classic preparations. Today, as director of dining services at The Villages of Saint Edward, he plans and executes meals for hundreds of residents.

“We like to offer a lot of variety in dining options, with a menu that runs on five-week cycles and is based on seasonal dishes,” he says. “Our residents are open to trying new things and are pretty receptive to new ideas, which makes things interesting for us. Whenever possible we work with fresh ingredients. Nutrition is always at the forefront, as we meet and go beyond the dietary standards and requirements for nursing care. We strive to provide foods that pack a lot of important nutrients, vitamins and minerals.”

He reports the most popular dishes with the residents are all-American favorites: barbecue ribs, chili, steak, and grilled seafood top the most-requested list. Residents can build their own plates, choosing a protein, two starches and two vegetables, and there’s also an “anytime menu,” featuring selections like burgers, hot dogs, chicken fingers and salads.

“We take care to ensure that meals look delicious, too,” he adds.

Residents in independent living have full kitchens in their apartments and like to make their own meals, but Will says for convenience sake, they offer continental breakfasts and grab-and-go lunches on each floor in the common room.

Beef stroganoff
Fish Dinner

Out and About
Now that social distancing restrictions have been dropped, the activities directors at The Villages are getting busy again.

On the docket are bus trips to the MAPS Air Museum, a mini train trip on the Cuyahoga Valley Railroad, a charming tearoom and loads of shopping excursions to local favorite places.

“Many of our independent living residents no longer drive, but that doesn’t stop them from loving to go places and discover new things,” says Melissa Strainer, who is director of resident life at the Green location. “We’re always open to their input in planning destinations. For instance, the railroad is a perfect chance to enjoy the fall colors, as its route runs through tree-lined land from Akron to Peninsula. As the holidays near, we’ll plan opportunities to experience Christmas lights.”

Tentative plans are already in the works for this fall, with interesting destinations such as Amish Country, Hinckley Park, an apple orchard and Christmas shopping.

The Village of St. Edward has three locations. In Wadsworth, the address is 880 Main Street, and the phone number is 234-217-8735. In Fairlawn, the address is 3125 Smith Road, and the phone number is 330-668-2828. In Green, the address is 3813 Fortuna Drive, and phone number is 234-294-0010. All locations are open for visits and tours. Independent living residents are not required to wear masks anymore. Assisted Living and Nursing Care residents still wear masks and follow minor restrictions. For more information, go to