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Gates part slowly and the yellow school bus lumbers onto the campus at Paradise Valley Estates.  The bus is filled with excited third-graders who are looking forward to meeting their “pen-pals” at a spaghetti and make-your-own sundae luncheon.  The students have been exchanging letters with Quail Creek Assisted Living residents throughout the school year.  Now they will get some “face time.”

This is part of our Outreach/Inreach program.  We who live here recognize that retirement living needs the spice of a hometown environment, and so we play in the municipal band; mentor high school students who are Junior ROTC members, deliver Meals-on-Wheels, substitute teach throughout the school district.  We are active members of church congregations, fraternal organizations and service clubs.

Just as we go into the larger community of Fairfield, groups from the city come to us.  Daisies, Bluebirds, and Brownie Scouts are earning badges, but they are also learning kindness.  High school students offer free “car wash” opportunities, and include electric scooters and walkers in the service. In May, students come in formal wear to take part in an annual Senior Ball, snaking through the multipurpose room in a conga line or pair- dancing with residents to a familiar song.  Junior ROTC volunteers are Honor Guards in patriotic ceremonies on campus.

There are so many ways to be part of a vibrant, enthusiastic community.  Fortunately, the gates at Paradise Valley Estates open in two directions, inward and outward.