Bruno Cavallo never imagined he’d be writing poetry in his 80’s. But, he is. And he’s winning awards along the way.
“I didn’t realize I had this kind of ability,” said Cavallo, a Villager at Pine Run Retirement Community in Doylestown Township. “It’s a different part of my brain that’s opened.”
Nourished by Pine Run’s wealth of enrichment activities, the friendliness of fellow Villagers, and the community’s commitment to healthy living, Cavallo said he found a new sense of freedom that unlocked his creativity.
“I’ve discovered a different side of me that I wasn’t aware of before, something totally out of my field,” said Cavallo, a retired aeronautical engineer and manager who spent 37 years with the U.S. Navy at the former Naval Air Development/Warfare Center in Warminster.
Cavallo isn’t alone. At Pine Run, every person finds not only peace of mind thanks to the community’s association with Doylestown Health and its continuum of care, but also enriching new friendships and endless opportunities to explore exciting aspects of life they may never have considered before.
“Villagers can choose from a range of activities, from writing classes and art history courses to line dancing, aqua yoga at the new pool, a multitude of craft activities and a fully equipped wood shop,” said Deb Amundson, Pine Run’s activity coordinator. “There really is something for everyone, even if it’s an activity or hobby they’ve never tried before.”
For Cavallo, it was poetry. He was named Pine Run’s Poet Laureate in 2020 and one of his works was featured as the June poem in LeadingAge PA’s 2021 calendar. It just happens to be the month Bruno turns 85.
“Once I wrote one poem, ideas kept coming to me,” Cavallo explained. From March to June 2020, he wrote 44 poems. Many of the ideas for them came during his daily walks.
At Pine Run, he said, he’s found much inspiration and lasting friendships. “You just reach out and someone’s there, there’s always something to do.”
Cavallo is singing for the first time with The Village Voices, Pine Run’s chorus, too. He recently performed with the group in their Summer Concert, “Hats Off to Pop!”
“Living at Pine Run,” Cavallo added, “is far different, far better, than I expected.”
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Elizabeth Lyle also discovered time to devote to a newer interest at Pine Run.
Tired of “stepping on all the gentlemen’s toes,” while ballroom dancing on her many cruises, Lyle decided it was time to take some lessons.
“Little did I know it would become a passion,” said Lyle, a Villager who moved into the independent living community last September from her home in North Wales.
While she grew up loving music and dance, a talent she learned from her mother, Lyle was surprised to discover how much she enjoyed ballroom dancing. When she started lessons, her goal was just to learn to get around the dance floor smoothly.
Now, she competes internationally, traveling to Canada, Puerto Rico and across the United States. Dancing has enriched her life in countless ways, she said.
“It’s great exercise, it’s mentally stimulating, and it’s a wonderful way to meet people,” said the 71-year-old, who spent much of her career as a research scientist with Merck & Co. “Dance is the major passion of my life now, and I spend a lot of time doing it.”
Thankfully, her cottage on Pine Run’s lush 43-acre campus provides ample space for her to practice. She also has been participating from home in virtual competitions, since in-person gatherings have been cancelled due to COVID-19 risks.
“I’m really eager to get back to it. I miss the crowd and applause,” said Lyle, of competitive dancing, where she specializes in the cha-cha, rhumba, swing, mambo and bolero.
Life at Pine Run is perfect for Lyle’s healthy, active lifestyle. From her friendly, accomplished fellow Villagers to the rich array of activities, naturally beautiful green campus and well-appointed new community center, Lyle said, “It’s like living at a resort. There’s always something interesting to do, and I don’t have to worry about anything – that leaves me more time for dancing!”
Hearing that pleases Maria Santangelo, Pine Run’s Executive Director.
“Our mission at Pine Run always is to provide a community that embraces the whole person. Each of us has many talents to share, and when you feel healthy and comfortable, those passions have a chance to surface,” she said. “Pine Run truly is a place to thrive.”
Villager Ginny Watts has found her life at Pine Run to be an ideal place to become her healthiest self. After varicose vein surgery, her physical therapy required her to walk an hour every day. She found the community’s fully equipped fitness center the ideal place to follow doctors’ orders on the “NuStep” machine. “It’s more vigorous than walking and I could get my steps in in 45 minutes,” Watts said.
Use of the pool, which she loves, also has been an important part of Watts’ recovery, as has Pine Run’s in-house TV exercise classes and support from a personal trainer.
“I’ve lost 30 pounds. I have 30 pounds to go, but I feel a lot better,” said the 70-year-old Watts.
Another benefit of her move to Pine Run, she said, was how little she needed her car. Realizing she had put just 300 miles on her car in six months, she decided to sell it back to the dealer. “I don’t need it here. Pine Run has transportation to take me to my cat’s vet appointments, the bank, and I see my doctor right here.” And, she added, “The Villagers are great, the food is good and it’s healthy.”
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When it comes to fulfilling a long-imagined life dream, Villager Lou Metzger is an expert.
Both Lou and his wife, Pat, are dedicated kayakers, having paddled in oceans, rivers and other waterways across the country and into Canada. They spent 14 days canoeing on one adventure and countless hours whitewater rafting. Kayaking, Metzger said, is their passion.
He also enjoys woodworking, so when he discovered that Pine Run had a wonderfully equipped wood shop, he was thrilled, and soon launched an ambitious project to build a kayak from scratch. With the help of master woodworker, Irv Thompson, who manages Pine Run’s wood shop, Metzger spent about a year building a kayak from cedar strips. Pat, he noted, served as his “consultant,” helping with design and making other contributions.
In October 2020, watched and cheered on by an enthusiastic crowd of fellow Villagers, Metzger launched his handmade kayak in the Pine Run pond.
“It felt wonderful,” he said. “It’s like driving a sports car.”
For the Metzgers, living at Pine Run is perfect.
“There’s such a strong sense of community,” said Lou. “People go out of their way to get to know each other,” added Pat. “Someone’s always suggesting getting together for dinner and there’s so much friendship, caring and kindness – and so many fascinating people.”
Add in the natural beauty of the retirement community’s central Bucks County campus, the couple said they find Pine Run meets all their needs. “I see birds, deer and the changing seasons,” Pat said. “It’s the perfect place for us.”