Keeping Residents Informed: The community bonds over Vi at Silverstone newsletters

By Alex Gallagher

Two newsletters have helped build a strong sense of community within the Vi at Silverstone senior community.

Community newsletters like The Doings on 74th Street and The Views from the Vi kept readers apprised of community happenings and gave residents something to talk about.

The Doings on 74th Street

Bill Brown came to Vi at Silverstone nearly six years ago and noticed there wasn’t a newsletter.

“It’s management’s responsibility to keep residents informed of the activities they are providing, but there was no other avenue to learn about the people here,” says Brown, who formerly worked in newspapers. “I wanted to stress what the residents are doing now in their lives and what they’ve done in the past.”

Alarmed by this, he and another resident started a newsletter called the 74th Street Ramblings. It went well and circulated until June 2018, when Brown’s partner quit.  Not ready to give up on writing, Brown founded the The Doings on 74th Street.

Brown designed this newsletter to run similarly to a magazine.

“I started a new magazine that runs between 32 to 44 pages per month that features the lives of our community residents,” Brown says.

He wanted the residents to enjoy reading about their peers.

“I want to be a positive force from within the residential community in continuing the tradition which Vi management has embedded,” Brown says. “Everyone has three or four interesting stories to tell.”

Brown sometimes writes stories on the residents’ behalf, or they can submit their stories for him to edit.

“People can write about life in general; about their family; reviews about books, restaurants and movies; the travels they’ve gone on; or reflections they have on their lives or on current events,” Brown says.

He has edited countless stories over the past five years, but there have been a few stories that have stuck with him.

“I’ve done so many interesting stories. I’ve done stories about people who installed windows that can be seen in the skylines of major cities,” Brown says. “We also had a four-star general living here who lived to be 100. I wrote three different stories about his life both in and out of the military.”

His newsletter is extremely popular within the community.

“In our last issue, there were two pages dedicated just to letters to the editor that were all positive. For our next issue, I have four pages of responses from people from the community,” Brown says.

He feels that this newsletter has had a strong impact.

“I like to refer to this as the glue that holds this community together,” Brown says. “Sometimes I spend 40 hours a month on this newsletter, but it’s worth the effort. It’s become a stable part of the community, and people count on it.”

The Views from the Vi

When the pandemic broke out, other residents from Vi at Silverstone were panicked by the looming uncertainty.

Two weeks into the quarantine, Carol Rudolph, who moved to Vi at Silverstone in August 2019, stepped up and created another newsletter. Rudolph always had a love for science and for writing newsletters.

“I’ve always been interested in science since high school,” Rudolph says. “My father was a dentist and a researcher who had a lab at Columbia University. I would write and edit his speeches when I was in junior and senior high school.”

Her newsletter has two goals — to inform and to connect readers.

“It has two functions. The first is to bring people together by sending in memories, recipes, what they would do if they could go around the world and jokes. The second was to review research on COVID-19 that would most be beneficial to people in our age group and in our situation,” Rudolph says.

The community immediately bonded over the stories told and found commonalities among themselves.

“People will respond to other posts in the newsletter and there is intercommunication, which is what I really enjoy,” Rudolph says.

Rudolph initially published The Views from the Vi daily, but as information began to become clearer and vaccines rolled out, she gave herself a Sunday break. Now that things are easing back to normal, she publishes two to three times a week.

Still, she feels that there is so much information she must let her readers know.

“I find that two days a week pressures me, because there’s still so much information coming out, so I’ll sometimes put out a third one,” Rudolph says.

Rudolph is proud of her newsletter.

“Now that we’re able to be out and about a bit more, people will come up to me at dinner and give me compliments about the newsletter and ask me how many hours I spend a day on it,” Rudolph says.