The Siren Call of Carol Woods Committees
March 8, 2018 -
One of the most exciting things about Carol Woods is its resident committee structure. There are myriad choices, and if you don’t find what you are interested in, you can start your own Special Interest Group! There are committees that meet monthly and others that meet less frequently. At this time we have 13 advisory committees, 36 service committees, and 48 special interest groups.
A trip down memory lane
The early history of Carol Woods is recounted in the book “Pioneering at Carol Woods,” written by Iris Friederich, a longtime resident. The following is a summary of early resident involvement in committees.
From the time the first residents came to live here in September 1979, they said, “We want to plan our own activities, concerts, displays, speakers, trips, etc.” Within four months 199 residents had moved in, and they thought it would be helpful to management if they provided some “worldly advice” on dining services, campus safety, community relations, decorating, library, finance, grounds maintenance and whatever else they were certain they knew something about.
By April 1980 these residents had created 15 standing committees that interacted directly with management. A month later, the Carol Woods News, written by the CEO, indicated there were 28 groups coordinating cultural activities, entertainment, and sports. The Thursday evening programs began as slide-illustrated travelogs. Sports venues included shuffleboard in the Community Room (which was also home to the Thursday evening programs), an outdoor horseshoe court (that had little use), and ping pong table downstairs in the basement (where residents play today).
Also in 1980 photography, woodworking, and sewing rooms were established in the basement of the Central Building. The Display Case Committee began its work, and Enid Woodward decided it was time for a Carol Woods Gift Shop.
From the start, music was an important part of life. Not only did residents arrange trips to concerts and plays, but they began to bring first-rate musicians to perform here. During the first year, a concert fund was set up to purchase a piano. People were so generous, there was enough to also establish a fund for maintenance and tuning.
The “Garden Gofers,” who were first known as the “Woodmen,” spent 18 months eliminating poison oak and green briar from the woods. Magnolias were planted from seed and azaleas were planted in profusion. Garden plots were established in an area fondly called “The Farm.”
Most residents joined some of the activities available, but it has always been up to individuals to choose the degree of participation (including none at all). Iris finished her history by saying, “It was characteristic of this community to have about as many opinions as residents, but there was near-unanimity about the wisdom of the decision to move to Carol Woods.”
What today’s residents are saying
We took a random (and not remotely scientific) poll of 38 current residents including Early Acceptance, residents here less than one year, and eight who have been here more than 10 years. We wanted to see if there was a trend in how they had become involved within our community.
Except for the Early Acceptance residents, the others almost immediately attended Residents Association meetings and evening programs (both concerts and speakers). Although most exercise regularly, there is less participation in organized exercise classes. As for Carol Woods trips, it turns out residents are either enthusiastic trip takers or have taken advantage of trips only occasionally.
Most of the respondents all had been approached by someone and encouraged to join their committee. A few looked up committee members in the directory and asked them how to join. Almost all had joined at least one committee by the time they had been here six months.
As they became acclimated to Carol Woods, 30 participated in service committees as their first venture into organized committee work. Fourteen currently serve on advisory committees, 32 on service committees and too many to count are involved in special interest groups. A few people mentioned that they preferred to spend their energy on service committees, which tend not to meet as regularly as advisory committees. Two started new special interest groups that later became committees. Almost half of the respondents had taken on leadership roles in committees of their choice.
As one might expect, longtime residents have joined more committees over the years. We grouped people into six categories based on the length of time in at Carol Woods.
Early Acceptance – 1 of the 3 respondents is serving on a committee
One Year or Less – 3 of the 4 are serving on a total of 7 committees
One to Two Years – 5 of the 5 are serving on a total of 13 committees
Three to Four Years – 12 of the 13 have served (or are serving) on a total of 21 committees
Five to Ten Years – 7 of the 8 have served (or are serving) on a total of 25 committees
Ten Years and Over – 8 of the 8 have served (or are serving) on a total of 59 committees
Resident involvement is a major part of what brings us together as a community, and many of us heed the siren call of Carol Woods committees and special interest groups.
--Carol Woods resident Sindy B.