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Published: July 20, 2017

summer-events-in-oberlin-kendal.jpgTrue or False? You know you are from Kendal when:

  1. Your calendar is crammed full of meetings, volunteer projects and other appointments.
  2. Your trash can is barely full because almost everything gets recycled.
  3. You head to the Heiser Auditorium around 7 p.m. because something is usually going on.

All of the above are true, Kendal residents will tell.

You Know You’re from Kendal at Oberlin When...

Many aspects of life at Kendal are directed by residents. Since many are retired professionals with a wide range of backgrounds, community activities run smoothly. There is a plethora of constantly evolving committees, opportunities, programs and yes, lots of forms to keep all of it organized.

Add to that the community’s Quaker-based values, including its emphasis on sustainability, volunteerism and respect for diverse lifestyles and viewpoints, and you have a very engaged, vibrant, active campus.

Today, we take a light-hearted look at the Kendal idiosyncrasies that bring smiles and laughter.

kao-recycle.jpgEverything Gets Recycled

Well almost everything, explains Priscilla Steinberg. “The soup containers have a white plastic lid, and so far, no one has found a use for the lid.”

By the mailboxes are bins to recycle junk mail. Residents and staff recycle all kinds of paper, which made Kendal the second-best paper recycler last year in the city of Oberlin.

Kendal’s creative journal Eureka! has its own bin for recycling so back issues can be saved.

The Early Learning Center recently collected 400 pounds of plastic lids and caps, which will be melted down to build a green bench.

Cabinets, lights and other fixtures removed from renovated cottages are donated to Habitat for Humanity ReStore, which leads Priscilla to another Kendalism – you do what you’re told to do.

Priscilla explains: A fairly new resident showed up at Priscilla and Ira’s cottage with a dolly full of old fixtures. “They told me to take it to 118,” the resident said. Priscilla thought it was a joke until she realized part of the message was missing – take it to carport 118.

The recycling list is endless.

So are the number of committees and special interest groups. “When we came in 2009, there were 70-something committees, which I thought was over the top. Now, there are 105,” Priscilla says.

Make that 106 –the Pet Interest Group was recently formed.

One of the more interesting groups is the Silliness Committee. Membership is anonymous, and the committee never meets. Its goal? To bring smiles to resident faces on birthdays, while recovering from illness and for just about any other reason. Pink flamingoes, fake flowers and other props show up on resident lawns and elsewhere.

Is There a Form for That?

Keeping track of all of the committees and activities is quite a task. There are forms to reserve a room for a program or event, as well as to arrange for refreshments and room setups.  The front desk places a form in mailboxes to indicate an oversized item is on the counter, as well as providing forms for service requests, away notices and more. But no form is needed to post information on the numerous bulletin boards: That’s handled by inserting flyers in a special mailbox monitored by a committee.

It’s 7:15 p.m., Where Are Your Neighbors?

They are probably sitting in the Heiser Auditorium, listening to a lecture or musical performance, maybe even singing or dancing.

“There’s been an explosion of events in the past year and a half in the auditorium. You have to fill out the form to reserve the room way ahead of time,” Dick Baznik says.

New activities are constantly being formed, too. Kendal staff and residents had so much fun and success at a county-wide spelling bee last year that Kendal Spells! is now on the calendar. Hmm – wonder if spelling T-shirts are next? Just ask the table tennis, the arboretum or the 20th anniversary groups for a copy of their T-shirt form so people can sign up.

To keep up on all the activities, residents keep handy the monthly calendar printed in the Kendalight newsletter, and check the daily Channel 27 slideshow for updates. Dick’s wife, Donna, says, “We don’t need an activities director because we just do it.”

For instance, a group of residents gather at the bottom of Wildflower Hill for a “full moon viewing party” during the warm months. They bring plum wine and song sheets to enjoy the moon’s rising.

“Any excuse for a party,” Donna adds.

A Shop Full of Stories

Kendal’s Resale Shop is a way for residents to donate clothing, furniture and other household items no longer needed and is a convenient and inexpensive way for them to buy things they want or need.

The shop is open to the public, but Kendal residents are its biggest boosters, and that makes for some funny exchanges. “Hey, my old jacket looks better on you than it did on me” or “I think that’s my old couch in your living room.”

Nancy Lombardi is currently chair of the Resale Shop, and she and her partner, Ann Francis, said that the two of them think it’s wonderful to see their old clothes being enjoyed by other residents.  

Ann is president of the Kendal at Oberlin Residents Association. She says monthly meetings are usually serious until Ed Long and Barbara Bruer take to the floor. They deliver a light-hearted report on what other Kendal communities are doing, such as having residents build strength by lifting two bags full of sweet potatoes.

Pet Treats and Tales

Pets are a big part of Kendal life, and the dogs have their own routines too, says Ann, owner of Dulce. Daily walks include a stop at the front desk, where treats are handed out by receptionists Sue Rollins and Veronica Toth.

Ann laughs, remembering when a dog got loose from its owner and took off across campus. Everyone in the dog’s path knew where it was headed.

“Every dog in this place knows where the treats are,” she says.

No way is this list of Kendalisms complete. Want to hear more about the exciting, interesting, and downright hilarious activities at Kendal at Oberlin: Contact us by calling 800-548-9469 or 440-775-0094 or online to learn more about the goings-on!

Start living the good life 


Molly Kavanaugh frequently wrote about Kendal at Oberlin for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, where she was a reporter for 16 years.