Text Size

Crafting a Creative Community

December 6, 2023

Sharon helps a resident during a crafting activity at The Manor at York Town in Bucks County, PASharon Schmidt is the Lead Housekeeper at The Manor at York Town, an independent living community in Central Bucks County. Not only does she strive to keep residents’ apartments clean and tidy, she also enriches community life at The Manor through crafting. Sharon inspires residents to develop their creativity by engaging in fun craft projects as part of The Manor’s monthly Community Life activities. Many of these projects are seasonal, and residents enjoy displaying their creative works on their apartment doors and windows, showing their distinctive, unique style.

According to Sharon, “Planning and organization are key to executing successful projects that stimulate residents’ imaginations.”

Prior to being employed at The Manor, Sharon had taught crafting classes as an activities director at other senior living communities. Combined with her degree in Public Relations and her past festivities and event coordination experience at Peddler’s Village, Sharon utilizes her skills to bring fun, creativity, and encouragement to all of her programs.

Wonderfully Supportive Team Makes Creating Projects Possible

“I am so fortunate to work here with the team, all of whom support my passion for creating crafts with residents. By encouraging me to offer classes in addition to completing my housekeeping duties, I am empowered to keep my hand in designing projects that residents enjoy creating and displaying in their homes.”

Sharon’s creativity spans throughout the year. Every August, for example, she and the residents meet to plan the design and execution of the scarecrow that they display at the Annual Peddler’s Village Scarecrow Competition. Sharon explains, “This year, the theme of the scarecrow was “Hope”. We built an abstract, nature themed figure in honor of all those who have battled cancer.”

She adds, “Bill McDonald, The Director of Facilities, has provided dedicated shelf space in the office where I can keep my supplies and other necessary equipment for our craft classes. He has also built the frame that we use for the base of our yearly scarecrow project including this year’s ‘Wearing Hope’ scarecrow.”

“Last year’s entry was ‘Marilyn Mon Crow,’ says Sharon, “and her dress was made out of a shower curtain that a resident sewed, then wrapped around wire mesh.”

She adds, “Right after we finish creating the scarecrow every year, we start gearing up for our Annual Pumpkin Decorating Competition. All of the residents get a kick out of decorating pumpkins that they display for other residents and staff to vote for their favorites.”

Repurposing Old Crafts for New Crafts

Sharon uses unique supplies and repurposes materials for later use. “We do a lot with recycled materials here. The silk flowers we used to decorate the Hope Scarecrow were actually recycled from flower bouquets I made last summer for our community wedding vow renewal ceremony. Those flowers were previously part of elegant wedding bouquets that decorated the main staircase in The Manor entry foyer. For this flower arrangement, I inserted the flowers into pool noodles for support, and attached them to the banister with zip ties.”

Sharon elaborates, “We hope the residents have fun creating projects with friends and neighbors that they might not have undertaken on their own. They develop a camaraderie with one another while they are crafting. “

Getting together to make crafts is also a lovely way for new residents to casually meet neighbors in a relaxed setting. Everyone shares stories, laughter and good times together.”

She continues, “I try to come up with ideas for projects that are seasonal as well as festive, fun, and useable for residents, such as the door hangers that we made this summer with a flip flop theme, or other décor items.”

When asked where she finds inspiration, Sharon says, “Pinterest is a good place to start, as are magazines, but we make projects using whatever we have-paint, pens, markers, beads, dried flowers, feathers, corks- whatever I find here and at craft stores becomes fodder for our projects. Recently, I found wine corks in a consignment shop that the residents painted so that we could reuse them as vases to hold dried flower arrangements.”

Sharon concludes by explaining, “We want the residents to enjoy the process of exploring and expanding their creativity by trying new and different activities, and using various types of media. The classes are another way we build the close bonds of community among the residents and team members here.”