Social media has the power to bring people together – and while this may not be breaking news, the connections we create and the friendships we form are powerful. When done right, digital media platforms can also open doors and lead you to places you never imagined.
Meet Marilyn and Jim from the Rio Grande Valley. For the past four years, they have been searching for a place to call home. Longing to be closer to family they wanted to be closer to their two children who reside in the area.
While they searched for the perfect retirement community that had all the bells and whistles they dreamed of, the Marilyn and Jim moved into an apartment on a short-term basis in North Houston that was equidistant between both of their children. Over the years, they visited nine different retirement communities, but to their dismay, none of them felt quite right. They continued their search.
On New Year’s Day 2017, Marilyn received a ‘suggested friend’ notification from a familiar face while scrolling her newsfeed on Facebook. In their profile photo, she noticed the individual was wearing a nametag and thought, “they must be at a community here in the area!"“Jim, come quick. Check this out!”
Looking closer at their new ‘suggested’ friend’s photo, they discovered the picture was taken at a place called Oak Park Retirement Resort located in nearby Katy, Texas. Curiosity led to the soft sound of mouse clicks and keystrokes as Marilyn ensued further research on the newly discovered community.
Later that day, Marilyn began following Oak Park’s Facebook page
after observing several of their friends of over fifty years in the photos and all the fun they were having.
The next day, Marilyn placed a call and scheduled an appointment to tour Oak Park.
When they arrived, they felt the warmth of the community almost instantly.
“Everyone was so nice and friendly. Everyone we met greeted us with a genuine smile and was excited for us to be here!”
Marilyn said. “Jim and I looked at each other smiled. We knew this was it – this is what we’ve been looking for.”
On their tour, they fell in love with the community and the many amazing amenities. Following their tour, they asked if they could look around some more. Venturing to explore the community on their own, they returned to an apartment door and knocked. To their pleasant surprise, that familiar face they saw on Facebook answered the door. With open arms, ecstatic to see one another they exclaimed, “Where have our friends been for the past fifty years?”
Fifty years prior and two hundred ninety miles south of that present moment, the longtime friends first crossed paths. Sue and Marilyn’s friendship began as elementary education “study buddies” at Pan American University. Upon graduating, both were hired as teachers, relocated, and unfortunately lost touch.
Marilyn and Jim left Oak Park that day knowing they had found their home. The following day they called and said, “We’re in. We are ready to move to Oak Park!”
After four months, they’re still content by their experience.
“Everyone is delightful and the staff is always happy. We love all our new friends! Our stress has been lifted and we are so thankful that our prayers have finally been answered.”