Heaton Place Retirement Community residents Margaret Paskevich, Jean Roberts, Elfrieda Thillman and Dorothy Bowie love all of Heaton Place’s social activities, and some particularly enjoy the intimate setting of the Sharing Circle.

The healing power of storytelling and connection

Retirement community’s Sharing Circle offers purpose in ways other activities can’t

Modern life can be lonely. For seniors who’ve lost mobility or lost friends, the feeling of isolation is hard to overcome.

That’s why Heaton Place Retirement Community in Armstrong cares so much about building community. Many retirement homes offer a busy activity calendar and Heaton Place does too, but Resident Relations Coordinator Carrie O’Neill wanted to facilitate social connection in more intimate ways as well.

That’s how the weekly Sharing Circle came to be.

“If you have never sat amongst your elders and listened to their life stories, I encourage you to do so!” O’Neill says.

Sharing Circle allows residents to connect

Once a week over coffee and a cookie or two, the Sharing Circle comes together.

“The circle unfolds differently every time.”

Sometimes the group reads a short story and discusses how it may relate to their lives. At other gatherings the group pulls questions from a basket and takes turns elaborating on the answers. They’ve also enjoyed listening to friends tell their life stories.

“It is a special place to step out of the ordinary time of your day to connect and get to know your neighbours,” O’Neill explains.

“We get to learn something about each other, and isn’t that what it’s all about!” one Heaton Place resident says.

The Sharing Circle is so popular that Heaton Place has added a second gathering where participants listen to music, sing along, share memories of that song in their lives, and get up and dance!

Healing and gratitude goes both ways

O’Neill believes in the healing power of storytelling and connection.

“It’s all about the language of the heart and the space to share their journey.”

Seniors can lose their sense of purpose and feel as if they no longer play a vital role in life. But captive in their minds and memories is a treasure trove of priceless information only they can share. Sharing those stories and building community is healing for seniors. But they’re not the only ones.

At a time when youth learn values from celebrities and social networks, the Sharing Circle gives younger generations an opportunity to connect with the wisdom and life experience of their elders.

“It is truly a healing gift for all,” O’Neill says.

Never before has there been such an urgent need for parents and grandparents to share their life-defining moments, milestones and special memories.

Over the past couple of months, O’Neill has had the gift of journeying with Heaton Place residents in Armstrong.

“Holding space for our residents is so important. Over the past couple of months there have been tears shed, memories brought to the surface, lots of laughter, and healing within.”

Heaton Place has limited units left. Bring your loved-one in to enjoy lunch and a tour. Call 250-546-3353-ext 506.


The Heaton Place Retirement Community in Armstrong introduced a sharing Sharing Circle to build community and promote healing in a more intimate setting.

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