Neighbors create a helping-hands village

| 27 Sep 2012 | 12:29

— Let’s say you are somewhere north of 55 and could use some assistance, here and there, but you are in no way ready to move into an assisted living facility – not yet, anyway.
If you lived in Building Six at Bald Eagle Commons, you would be in luck, because the residents there have created a kind of helping-hands community, where they look out for each other.
Donna Dolan, who said she is a bit younger and more able than some in the building, might help a neighbor with shopping. While there is a Bald Eagle bus, sometimes a resident has trouble getting on and off it, but still wants to squeeze the tomatoes at ShopRite. Off they go together on a grocery shopping expedition.
Or perhaps a neighbor needs a prescription filled or a trip to the doctor. Someone in Building Six is willing and able to help.
John DeKoek’s wife, Mary Ann, is the building nurse, unofficially perhaps, but on call anyway. If someone is having a medical problem, they’re more likely to reach out to her than 911.
If someone is away and water is spotted pouring out from under the doorjamb, Building Six is on it, notifying maintenance immediately. Never mind that the absent neighbor’s key is also in someone’s reliable hands.
Newspapers piling up outside a Building Six condo? Neighbors both notice and care. Management is called and responds right away, according to residents.
In an emergency, first responders — West Milford EMTs, police and fire department — are always polite, friendly and prompt, which makes Building Six very happy.
For the holidays, Building Sixers do it up right. Grace DuBois is in charge of decorating the lobby and does a bang-up job. Other buildings at Bald Eagle reach out to her for advice.
Also, a group of ladies, calling themselves a “chat group,” meet periodically to plan monthly parties, open to all the neighbors. “Sometimes it’s an ice cream social, sometimes hotdogs,” said George Goldberg, who helps DeKoek, the building representative, keep things running smoothly. In fact, there are volunteers from each floor backing up DeKoek.
“It can be a difficult transition for those of us who were used to homes and property of our own, where we did as we pleased and answered to no one," said Maureen DeGeorge. "Now, there are committee-approved bylaws, rules that govern us and protect us, and that’s a good thing.”
When Lori Doherty, barely old enough to move into Bald Eagle Commons, began parking her car in an available space far from the main entrance to Building Six, DeKoek took note and insisted she get a space closer to the door for those late-night returns from a day of work. He was looking out for her safety.
Doherty, whose condo purchase was handled by friend Linda McCullough, of ReMax Country Realty, said, “ I enjoy coming home and seeing folks gathered, talking, out front on benches I call ‘the stoop,’ Bald Eagle style.”
From all over, these neighbors in Building Six have come together, creating a community of neighbors who look out for each other, a kind of old-fashioned, tight-knit village, right here in West Milford.
Note: Bald Eagle Commons is a 55+ community for active adults. For more information call 973-728-7116. Or stop by Building Six’s “stoop” one afternoon.