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Virginia Beach retirement community lights up the neighborhood to help seniors have a happy holiday

Posted at 11:15 PM, Dec 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-12 14:20:17-05

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - The Christmas lights all over Atlantic Shores are doing more than lighting up the community.

“It lifts your spirits. It lifts your spirits,” says Kathleen Rausch.

Rausch stopped by the first ever "Illumination Ceremony" hosted by the retirement community to visit a friend during this tough time.

“It gives you a sense of community and belonging,” she adds.

She says it’s also a reminder that Christmas is coming.

“With everything that is going on - between COVID and restrictions and regulations - we said this is an opportunity to do something special for our residents that’s safe,” said Cameron Gwaltney. He is the Director of Marketing and Sales with the neighborhood.

From the inside of the car, families get to drive around, enjoy the light display and even pay Santa a visit.

Some residents are not able to leave their rooms because they are high-risk, but they do have the best seats for the live dance performances.

Their stage is set up right outside of our skilled nursing environments. Many of those residents have been able to come to their windows and look out and see the dancers,” adds Gwaltney.

He says it’s all about community.

“We need to seek out community. Loneliness is a huge issue,” he adds.

Leaders say there are other small things people can do this holiday season to let your older loved ones know you are thinking about them.

“We cannot underestimate how powerful a simple phone call can be. It doesn’t take a lot of time. It might be a five-minute phone call, but that can really make someone’s day,” Gwaltney adds.

You can also lend a helping hand to a neighbor who may live alone.

Related: Retired Hampton veteran continues tradition of lighting up community with Christmas display

“If we could like help out the elderly people and maybe even help them do video chat and things with their family," said Rausch.

A small gesture that could light up someone's heart.