Among the many hobby and interest groups at the La Vida Llena retirement community, you’ll find the Wood Shop. Gerhard, one of the leaders of the Wood Shop, says the Shop mainly exists to provide services for other residents in the community – it’s not just a hobby shop. From gluing chairs to repairing lamps, it’s a true example of residents helping their neighbors. Gerhard and his wife, Evelyn, moved to New Mexico to be closer to their kids and grandkids. Gerhard was a physics professor in New York and then became a program officer in education at the National Science Foundation. Initially, Gerhard and his wife lived in a house in Albuquerque for 8 years before moving to La Vida Llena. The financial stability residents enjoy at Albuquerque’s only Life Plan community was attractive to them. “You know what your expenses are, and if you need more care then it doesn’t cost any more except for more meals”, Gerhard says. At La Vida Llena, Evelyn enjoys that dinner is provided. But the thing Gerhard enjoys most about the community? “The residents. It’s an eclectic group of interesting people”, he says. Before they moved here, Gerhard remembers he did not have a circle of friends in his new city. But now, he enjoys a full social life. He is also very physically active and enjoys regularly working out at the community fitness center which he describes as “very well appointed”. He and 4 other residents also are part of a walking group that formed years ago. Gerhard is also very active and influential in the community. After only 9 months of living at La Vida Llena, he was asked to become president-elect of the Residents’ Association. Since serving as president, he has been active on multiple community planning and advisory committees. And at the Wood Shop, neighbors talk about ways to help others in the community. The repair services are offered at no charge beyond extra materials needed. Besides providing residents an invaluable service, the shop has plans to facilitate those with an interest in refinishing antique furniture, building model airplanes or tin typing. As part of the major construction project, La Vida Llena provided an enlarged space for the Wood Shop that will accommodate their many projects and power tools, work benches, hand tools and various supplies.
Gerhard enjoys classical music and especially live performances. He also continues to work on an action research project exploring strengthening communication between industry and 2 year college faculty in the field of technology. He also has a passion for continuing education and recently signed up to audit a History of Modern Art class at nearby Central New Mexico Community College. “Living here gives us the time to be involved in our hobbies. We don’t have to worry about the plumbing or the roof, other people can handle that”, he says.