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Querencia at Barton Creek Donates Appliances to Blanco River Regional Recovery Team

March 22, 2017

In 2015, the Memorial Day and All Saints weekend floods changed the lives of hundreds of families in Blanco, Caldwell, Guadalupe, and Hays Counties. While the flood waters receded almost two years ago, many individuals who reside in the affected counties are still trying to pick up the pieces. With this ongoing need in mind, Querencia at Barton Creek, an SQLC retirement community, has joined forces with the Blanco River Regional Recovery Team to provide flood survivors with basic resources to refill their homes and start over. This ongoing partnership will provide home appliances and any other necessities to area families. When residents move to other levels of living in the community, or if they decide to clean out their closets or change appliances, they donate items to this organization. The Blanco River Regional Recovery Team was designed to assist with the long-term recovery of survivors from the Memorial Day and All Saints weekend floods.

“There is still a lot of work that needs to be done,” said Cynthia Jones, volunteer for the Blanco River Regional Recovery Team. “It’s absolutely a long-term recovery for these communities. This flood changed people’s lives in ways that far exceeded the damage, and we are dedicated to making sure everyone is able to get back on their feet. Having help from a community like Querencia makes recovery possible, and we’re so thankful for their willingness to help others.”

According to Nelda Rivas, director of housekeeping at Querencia, the senior living community has always been dedicated to assisting those in need by donating after various disasters over the years, and this particular incident hit close to home. That’s why providing appliances and other items felt like a natural fit. The community has donated refrigerators, dishwashers, clothing, food and other essentials.  

“The community has rallied to help our neighbors,” said Rivas. “It’s incredibly rewarding to know that we can make a difference and give people a head start on their new beginning. We’re very proud of all our residents and team members who have contributed. Since we started, we’ve donated over a dozen appliances, and we’re excited to see how many more we can give to those in need.”

“At Querencia at Barton Creek, we are proud to work with other local organizations to positively impact the lives of people who live in the greater community,” said Nate Weyand, executive director of Querencia. “We hope that by sharing the ongoing story of those affected by the floods that it will inspire others to get involved and rebuild these local communities.”

Senior Residents at Querencia Prepare For Annual Souper Bowl of Caring To Benefit Garza Independence High School

February 1, 2017

As football fans around the country prepare to watch the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons face off for Super Bowl LI, the residents of Querencia at Barton Creek – an SQLC retirement community – are gearing up for their own championship match to help Garza Independence High School fight hunger. The “Souper Bowl of Caring,” an annual donation event, brings communities across the nation together around the biggest sporting event of the year to empower local youth and help those in need. Querencia residents and team members will participate in the nationwide movement throughout the week in advance of this Sunday’s game by collecting monetary donations, hygiene supplies and nonperishable food items. All donations will then be delivered directly to Garza Independence High School on Monday, February 6. Containers for donations will be located in the community’s lobby and outside of the Limestone Café at Querencia (2500 Barton Creek Boulevard in Austin). Residents, their families, team members and the public are encouraged to donate.

Garza Independence High School serves at-risk students and works with them to ensure they are able to finish their high school education. This annual giving event centers on the year-long partnership between the senior living community and the high school. Querencia residents travel to the school once a month to mentor the children, help with school work, share stories about their lives and provide emotional connections that the children may not experience elsewhere. The volunteers often meet with the students in on-on-one pairings that allow unique bonds to form between the students and residents. The residents also give presentations on different subjects in which they have personal experience or expertise.

“Querencia is honored to support our local youth,” said Nate Weyand, executive director of Querencia at Barton Creek. “The partnership we have with Garza Independence High School is one that brings great joy to the residents, and because of that we want to do everything we can to show our appreciation. We’re proud to use the excitement around the Super Bowl to raise awareness and make a difference in the lives of others.”

Laughter Yoga Class at Querencia Helps To Enhance Residents’ Overall Physical and Mental Health

January 30, 2017

They say laughter is the best medicine, and for the residents of Querencia at Barton Creek – an SQLC retirement community – the old adage has become a word of truth for those who participate in the senior living community’s Laughter Yoga class.

Twice a month, Leah Tunnell, a certified Laughter Yoga instructor, helps residents at Querencia find the benefit in laughter. While the idea of laughing as a form of exercise might seem strange, the full-body actions provide a mild cardiovascular workout that helps to strengthen and cleanse the lungs and stimulate blood flow throughout the body through the jiggling of the organs. While people of all ages can benefit from the classes, the exercises are especially advantageous for seniors. The movements are good for those with arthritis, allergies, diabetes, heart conditions and more. Additionally, laughter boosts the immune system and naturally lifts one’s spirits through the release of endorphins and dopamine into the body after only 10 minutes. Laughter is also a medically accepted form of exercise with proven mental and physical benefits, particularly for overcoming depression and promoting healing.

“The hardest part about a laughter class is learning how to get over your reservations when it comes to acting a little foolish,” says Tunnell. “You have to let go of your fear and be in the moment. While laughing is lighthearted, it’s also a proven way to improve your overall health and well-being. I’ll guarantee that anyone will walk away feeling better than they did before walking through the door after participating in a laughter yoga class.”  

For resident Ann Kirk, Laughter Yoga provides a sense of freedom from the pressures of everyday life. It gives her the opportunity to relax and find pleasure in the simple things.

“Hearing someone laugh is infectious,” said Kirk. “In that moment you have the ability to pause and take in the joy we experience in our lives. Being able to marvel at life and your own sense of self – even for a moment – is something that makes you feel better or whole. There has been plenty of research which shows that just 10 minutes of laughter equals that of 30 minutes spent on a treadmill. I don’t know about you, but I find treadmills very boring and would much rather spend my time laughing.”

According to Kirk, she has always lived an active lifestyle and has even taken traditional yoga classes since 1971. She says that while all exercise programs have their own unique benefits, Laughter Yoga offers a social benefit as well, as everyone sits or stands together in a circle feeding off of each other’s energy. She had never truly experienced this until she participated in one of the classes.

“When you first start going to Laughter Yoga it seems to be the oddest thing you’ll ever do,” said Kirk. “But the laughter is so real and contagious that you fall right in with everyone else, you just have to be willing to try something different. The activities are very childlike in nature and require a use of the imagination, and there’s great freedom in being able to act as a child with no judgement or demands from those around you.”

Querencia at Barton Creek adheres to the Masterpiece Living® Program philosophy that embraces healthy living at any age in all regards – physical, spiritual, social and intellectual. This includes the opportunity to help seniors remain active through engaging activities and programs, like Laughter Yoga.

“As a Masterpiece Living Center for Successful Aging community we do everything we can to make sure that the residents have access to the resources they need to lead healthy and active lives,” said Nate Weyand, executive director of Querencia at Barton Creek. “The Laughter Yoga program is yet another unique way of staying healthy physically and mentally, and it allows participants to engage with those around them. With the start of a new year, we all look for ways to enhance our overall well-being, and we hope that our Laughter Yoga participants inspire others to try something new and get active this year.”

Santa’s Helpers at Querencia Share Christmas Cheer with Children at Dell Medical Children’s Hospital

December 20, 2016

For many children around the world the countdown to Christmas morning is always one filled with excitement and joy. As many children and families were making their preparations for Santa to visit their homes this past Christmas, the children at Dell Medical Children’s Hospital were busy sending their letters with instructions on how Santa can find them on Christmas. With this in mind, the residents of Querencia at Barton Creek – an SQLC retirement community – helped Santa respond to letters received from the children at Dell Medical Children’s Hospital who sent their letters with instructions on how Santa could find them on Christmas Eve. Santa’s helpers at Querencia worked quickly to ensure the children knew their special letters made it to the North Pole on time.

The Christmas season is a special time of year that allows the opportunity to reflect on childhood memories and the holiday magic that is Santa Claus.

Querencia at Barton Creek wanted to help make sure the children of Dell Medical Children’s Hospital and their families were able to experience the wonder and merriment that comes on Christmas morning after a visit by Santa, even if they were unable to do so at home.

Querencia at Barton Creek to Recognize Veteran Residents in Observance of Veterans Day

November 3, 2016

As Veterans Day approaches, the veteran residents of Querencia at Barton Creek, an SQLC retirement community, are finding themselves reflecting on their military service and how those experiences helped to shape them into the men and women they are today. Through their service, many of these veterans helped to shape our country and secure the freedoms we enjoy today. While time can erode the lesser details of war, the experiences of our veterans are remembered and honored with dignity and respect.

Querencia residents will spend time on Veterans Day – Friday, November 11 attending various events to honor those who served and made sacrifices for our country. One such event will feature Holocaust survivor Fred Bednarski as he details his experiences during the Russian and German occupation of Poland during World War II.

Residents and Staff Members of Querencia at Barton Creek to Compete In Senior Games

October 12, 2016

The residents and staff members of Querencia at Barton Creek, an SQLC retirement community, are currently hard at work as they prepare to compete in the community’s 2016 Senior Games. The senior games are an annual event that allows residents and staff to come together for friendly competition, bragging rights and good clean fun. This comes on the heels of this year’s Olympic Games and has extra special meaning. The teams are designed to bring residents and staff from all departments together to build new relationships. Each day of competition will be filled with a variety of fun and exciting events that challenge the body and mind. Please see the order of events below: Chair Volleyball, Jenga, Pictionary, Bean Bag Baseball, Trivial Pursuit. Closing Ceremonies and Awards will take place to close the games.


Residents at Querencia Barton Creek Celebrate 3rd Annual Casino Night Fundraiser to Raise Proceeds for Alzheimer’s

September 30, 2016

Residents of Querencia at Barton Creek, an SQLC retirement community, recently celebrated their 3rd Annual Casino Night Fundraiser as they raised proceeds for Alzheimer’s Texas and the Darrell K Royal Research Fund for Alzheimer’s Disease. Residents and team members dressed in their Vegas finest and channeled their inner Elvis as they danced the night away. Attendees enjoyed classic casino games and fellowship as they came together to support those living with Alzheimer’s. The community has raised $14,000 through several events, and that number will likely go up after additional activities planned to raise money for Alzheimer’s Texas.

Querencia at Barton Creek is dedicated to supporting those living with Alzheimer’s and showcasing why this cause is important to the community. At The Plaza at Querencia, the community works with Alzheimer’s and memory support residents and their families every day. The team members and families understand the impact of fundraising events like this one, and they are dedicated to helping each other. Through efforts like the annual casino night fundraiser, everyone can come together to help find a cure.

Querencia at Barton Creek, a Masterpiece Living Center for Successful Aging certified community, is a premier life care senior living resort located at Barton Creek Boulevard and Chalk Knoll Drive in Austin, Texas, less than a mile from Barton Creek Resort & Club. Querencia at Barton Creek is 501(c)(3) nonprofit senior living community sponsored by Senior Quality Lifestyles Corporation (SQLC), a Texas-based nonprofit organization.

Tap Dancing Class at Querencia Keeps Residents on Their Toes

August 29, 2016

The residents at Querencia at Barton Creek – an SQLC retirement community – are moving to a new rhythm by adding a tap dancing lesson to their weekly routine. On Wednesday evenings you can find residents Genny Williams and Marcia Bailey leading their fellow residents in various combinations and exercises that help promote flexibility and strength from their hips all the way to their toes. The pair started their “Taptations” class to stay active and continue pursuing a lifelong passion and love for dance. Additionally, they say the classes are a wonderful way to keep them going when it comes to exercise.

“I’ve been dancing for as long as I can remember,” said Bailey. “It’s been wonderful to find a group here at Querencia that loves dancing as much as I do, especially tap. Having our dance class is a fun and unique way to get to know each other and exercise together. The movements from tapping help with our flexibility and balance, particularly in our ankles and joints, and of course everyone loves the added enjoyment that comes from making a little noise.”

“Personally, I’ve always had a deep love for dance of every kind,” said Williams. “It’s been wonderful to share that passion with others in our group that just started dancing for the first time. We have two men in the group, one of which is Marcia’s husband, and it’s been so entertaining to see them kick up their heels and have a good time.”

Over the years, Williams and Bailey have both competed nationally with different senior tap dancing groups, and Bailey still even performs from time to time with a group that visits Meals on Wheels gatherings and senior center socials in the Austin community. However, they quickly learned that there are not many places available for seniors to take lessons and practice their moves, so the pair put their heads together and decided to start their own group at Querencia. Since then, they’ve been joined by eight other residents who have discovered the benefits of dancing.

“It’s really an overall mind and body workout,” said Williams. “The music alone stimulates the senses and just makes you feel positive and joyful. There’s a lot of freedom in the movements, and you can dance to your ability. Some of the participants even sit and tap along, really strengthening their legs and ankles. While tapping has incredible physical benefits it can help you exercise mentally as well. You’re able to develop a sense of timing because you have to remember the steps and keep track of the music count. There’s a sense of rhythm and timing that’s very beneficial.”

“At Querencia, we are proud to offer our residents the freedom to take their passions and lead activities that encourage them to continue doing what they love,” said Nate Weyand, executive director of Querencia at Barton Creek. “The Taptations dance class that Genny Williams and Marcia Bailey have created is a unique way to see the benefits of dance in action. Their dedication to staying active and getting others out on the dance floor is an inspiration, and we hope they are able to encourage others to try something new and get moving.”

“I’ll continue dancing for as long as I can,” said Bailey. “I have no intention of slowing down yet, I still have plenty of moves left!”

Querencia Supports Resident’s Grandson as He Attempts Guinness World Record to Raise Awareness about Parkinson’s

July 20, 2016

The grandson of a resident at Querencia at Barton Creek, an SQLC retirement community, is attempting to set an Official Guinness World Record to raise awareness about Parkinson’s disease. Resident Jeanne Ellenstein’s grandson, Adam Ellenstein, has trained for months to swim the 105km (65 mile) length of Okanagan Lake in Canada.  Adam was inspired to take action when his aunt and Austin resident Susan Scarlett was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease nearly a year ago. Since then, the entire Ellenstein family has joined together to support Susan with love and understanding. Adam will begin his efforts, fittingly titled VictorySwim105, at dawn on July 25 and finish July 26 at sunset. The swim will support those with Parkinson's through a partnership with the Davis Phinney Foundation. During his swim, Jeanne, along with fellow residents and team members at Querencia at Barton Creek, will show their support in Austin by swimming throughout this time period.

“When my daughter was first diagnosed, it was like being hit by a flood,” recalls Jeanne. “As a former RN I knew exactly what was ahead of her, but I resolved to face it head-on because Susan already was. Through it all she’s done everything she can to be a step ahead of the disease and has been a rock for me.”

“I know this has been incredibly heavy for my mom, as no parent expects to see a child face Parkinson’s disease,” said Susan. “I still cannot believe that my nephew is dedicating such time and energy to attempt to set a new GUINNESS WORLD RECORD in my honor. To have the residents and team members swim to raise awareness about his efforts as well as Parkinson’s disease is truly remarkable. It’s amazing to see the support my mom has received here at Querencia. It means so much to me that she is so loved here, and everyone has been nothing short of amazing. I’m so honored and incredibly humbled.”

A familiar face at the retirement community, Susan regularly spends time with her mother at Querencia exercising, having lunch and visiting friends. Since her diagnosis in October, she hasn’t allowed anything to stop her from living life to the fullest each day, and she doesn’t intend on slowing down anytime soon. According to Susan, it is the support of her loved ones that keeps her going every day, and the knowledge that it’s ok to be happy and sad all at once. She is moved by the fact that Adam is doing all of this with her as his inspiration. They often joke about who inspires the other more. Through the entire process, she has learned about true strength and what it means to overcome a challenge. During Adam’s swim, Susan will swim alongside him as much as she is able to, as she has also been training for the experience.

“I’m simply amazed by how strong Susan has become and how supportive Querencia is of my family,” said Jeanne. “People have already done so much and we haven’t even gotten started yet. This is a wonderful community and it really is one big family; I’m incredibly grateful.”

During Adam’s two-day swim, Jeanne is planning to spend time in the pool at Querencia where she will show her solidarity with her grandson. Collectively, the residents and staff members at Querencia who wish to swim to show their support are encouraged to do so beginning July 24 at the retirement community’s pool, at family homes, local pools and even in lakes or the ocean. Photos of participants will then be uploaded to the Querencia Facebook page during the three-day period, so that Susan can relay updates to Adam as he swims to keep morale up. To boost support for Adam, the Ellensteins are even asking the public to join in and share their own photos with #VictorySwim105. There are currently people from dozens of states and other countries around the world who plan to swim along during the three-day time-frame. Additionally, the community plans to hold a special poolside victory happy hour at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, July 26, to celebrate Adam’s accomplishment and the awareness they have raised for Parkinson’s.

“At Querencia nothing is more important to us than our residents and what matters the most to them,” said Nate Weyand, executive director of Querencia at Barton Creek. “We’re honored to stand with Jeanne and support her family and the incredible cause they have undertaken to increase awareness for Parkinson’s. It’s a privilege to be included in a cause that directly impacts our community. This provides us with the opportunity to give back to a truly incredible individual within our Querencia family, as well as those she loves.”

VictorySwim105 will support those with Parkinson’s through a partnership with the Davis Phinney Foundation. Those interested in donating to the organization may visit the VictorySwim105 fundraising page at: my.davisphinneyfoundation.org/victoryswim105 

Resident-Led Writing Group at Querencia Encourages Seniors to Document Personal Experiences to Share with Future Generations

June 29, 2016

It’s not uncommon for people to look back on their lives and wish that they had been able to document their experiences to share stories and defining moments with loved ones. Individual stories of perseverance, laughter, love and other moments are regularly forgotten with the passing of time. Because of this, a resident-led writing group at Querencia at Barton Creek, an SQLC retirement community, is encouraging fellow residents to record their own accounts of life events, personal biographies, family histories or any other topics they wish to share with their families and future generations. The group is putting together a book of stories and memoirs submitted by fellow residents at the resort retirement community to publish this fall. Resident Anne Beckner, who initially organized the writing group, came up with the idea to compile the stories in a book, and she encourages seniors to capture their memories to share with family.

“The wonderful thing about the residents here at Querencia is that everyone has unique experiences worth remembering,” said Beckner. “Most of our residents wouldn’t consider themselves writers or don’t think their individual tales are significant enough to share. However, once they sit down and begin to write out their memories of things such as childhood experiences, a daring adventure during their time in the armed forces, a poem, short story or even a personal account of their lives, they realize they don’t need to be writers to have something to say. I’ve had one gentleman submit 18 separate entries about his time in the armed forces and life after serving. It’s truly incredible to learn about the fascinating things my fellow residents have done, as well as to see their creativity and imagination come to light. Writing is a fun and rewarding experience, and I encourage seniors to put their stories on paper to give to their families.”

The writing group comes together once a month to work on various projects and prompts of their own, making for a fun and engaging activity that allows them to use their creativity. One particular member of the group, Joann Burch, a published author herself, is helping to spread the word about the residents’ book. Burch understands that for many people writing is new and maybe even a bit overwhelming. With that idea in mind, she began placing shortened versions of entries from the book submissions into a monthly newsletter that she distributes to her fellow residents. This is her way of encouraging them to participate by submitting their own stories for the book. Burch also invites the residents to stop by her apartment to read other submissions to inspire some of the more reluctant writers and let them know they can write a meaningful story too.

“Writing is one of the most personal forms of expressing oneself, and it can often feel intimidating in the beginning,” said Burch. “We wanted to find a way to inspire everyone and say you can be a writer too. Everyone enjoys reading the submissions in the newsletter, but the stories have also inspired others to send in their own. Everyone seems to enjoy having their name in print, as well as the feeling of accomplishment! I encourage everyone at Querencia to try writing themselves and see how rewarding it is.”

The group plans to take in as many submissions as they can before September, when they begin the process to publish the book. Each page will feature a 500 word submission along with a photo or a graphic that goes along with the story. They will also be separating the submissions to go under categories such as Querencia stories, history, biographies and memoirs. A short bio for each contributor, along with a photo, will also be included at the end of the book with all of residents that submit an entry.

“We are so excited to see this project come together, and look forward to reading the finished book,” said Beckner. “This is a wonderful opportunity that brings joy to our group as we’ve begun putting the book together. I know that looking ahead it’s going to bring an incredible amount of satisfaction to our entire community and the families of those who have submitted entries. It’s not every day that you get a chance to tell your story to the world, and we’re doing what we can to make sure that everyone’s story is told.”

“The ability to connect with others is often best done through the sharing of stories based on our experiences,” said Nate Weyand, executive director of Querencia at Barton Creek. “Querencia is proud to support the writing group in its pursuit to preserve the stories of the residents. I love hearing the residents tell stories about their lives, and I look forward to reading them all together in the book. We hope as many of the residents as possible participate in the project, and we encourage seniors throughout the local community to put their story to paper as well.”

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Austin, Texas 78735
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