LEADING BY EXAMPLE

After a couple of knocks on her door, Dee Christensen finally emerged from her apartment on the fifth floor of Presby’s Inspired Life’s Pensdale Village in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia. “I’m so sorry,” she said. “I wasn’t paying attention to the door because I was coloring!”

Coloring is one of the favorite hobbies of Dee, whose vibrant drawings dot the walls of the apartment she’s lived in since the Pensdale community opened its doors in 2004. In fact, she’s holds the distinction of being Pensdale’s first-ever resident. “I couldn’t afford my apartment in Roxborough anymore. Rent was just getting too high,” Christensen, a mother of three explained. “I was going to a post-retirement center where they have all kinds of activities.

They explained that a new affordable place for seniors would be opening in Roxborough and the retirement center would be hosting a fair. “The fair started at 9 a.m. I was there waiting on the porch at 7 a.m. And I wound up being the first person to move in. I’ve been here ever since.”

Dee, a lifelong Roxborough resident, said moving into Pensdale is one of the best things that’s ever happened to her. It’s truly become her home over the past 12 years. “I just love it here,” Dee said. “We never have to be afraid here. There’s always someone here for us and the management is so good to us.” During her 12 years at Pensdale, Dee has taken on a leadership role among the residents. She’s been on the resident’s association board since moving in and even served as president of the association for 10 years before retiring from that position.

Today, 59 of the 65 residents belong to the association and actively participate in activities that include bingo nights, casino trips and barbecues, among other things. Everyone is always welcome and included. “We have bingo every Tuesday night and usually between 50 and 60 people show up,” Dee explained. “It’s very popular and the people enjoy it.” Dee explained that money from the “bingo fund,” as she called it, helps pay for the casino trips, barbecues and other events for residents. Also, as part of keeping a close-knit group among the resident association, money from the “bingo fund” goes to getting a gift for each committee member on their birthday and for Christmas.

She also plays a role in bringing religious services to Pensdale. “I’m a Catholic Eucharistic minister, so we have a priest come for Catholic services once a month and I help him out with the services,” Dee said. “We also have an Episcopal mass here once a month. Anyone is always welcome at any religious service we have, no matter what.” Though she’s no longer association president, she played a key role when she was in the position in getting a $5,000 grant that helped purchase a grill, a television for the community room and a large light-up bingo board that the residents love. “It’s all been for the residents,” Dee said. “They all enjoy it, so that’s all that matters.”

Dee considers herself technologically savvy, so she takes it upon herself to promote the resident’s association’s events. She uses her creative skills to make new flyers on her computer.  “I keep all the old ones,” Dee said while opening a file cabinet drawer full of old flyers separated by date and event. “You never know when you’re going to need them.” She also keeps up with her technology as she has her own little office area set up in her apartment. But there’s one thing that still gives her fits.

“I can’t get the hang of this Facebook thing yet!”