Virginia Beach senior community steadily returns to 'life as normal,' with some restrictions

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Posted at 3:19 PM, Feb 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-17 17:22:17-05

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- It was an exclusive session for the senior citizens at Westminster-Canterbury. They had a virtual cooking lesson from celebrity chef, Jet Tila.

The community’s interactive sessions, normally held in person before, have gone virtually because of the pandemic.

"From the very beginning of the pandemic, we recognized that we needed to be innovative,” Ben Unkle, the CEO and President of Westminster-Canterbury, told News 3.

Now after months of virtual sessions, the senior citizen's community is allowing some in-person sessions with social distancing and face coverings still required.

Unkle added the residents have received their COVID-19 vaccines.

"Beyond that, it's back to life as normal here,” Unkle said. "We were designed as social creatures and we need to be in the community. We need to be connected."

For months, the residents had to connect using tablets, tune in through tv channels specific to the community, or by phone.

"We knew people needed to be connected,” Unkle said. “But we also knew that some people just won't ever use a computer."

Residents on Wednesday were no doubt connected through some technology. Tila, the celebrity chef, taught them how to make teriyaki chicken.

He taught them step-by-step how to make it over the virtual meeting program, Zoom, and also provided explanations on the ingredients and steps. Residents received prepackaged kits with the ingredients needed to make the dish.

"If you're there, we're on Zoom right now,” Tila said, “but if I give you something that I have the exact same, we're more connected. There's a mental connection."

Tila has appeared on cooking shows such as Chopped and Iron Chef America. He visited the senior community three times and has a partnership with them.

"Unfortunately I couldn't be there in person,” Tila said. “We've all shifted during the pandemic and I've done quite a few of these virtual demonstrations piped across the world."

If all goes to plan, he said he may be back sometime later this year to visit in person.

"That I'm excited about,” Tila said. “I'm glad our seniors and our community members are going to be back to normal before we will."