The Pines has a diverse resident population, says John Overton, and their taste in what they consider enjoyable is just as diverse.

“We pride ourselves on being different,” he says. “Positive, engaging stimulation makes a real difference in the quality of life of our residents. Reductions in the use of medication and less depression and loneliness are definitely the end results.”

Kimberly O’Toole agrees that having a broad range of activities improves residents’ quality of life and is a significant reason people want to live at Pines of Sarasota.

“If you think of yourself,” she says, “how important is leisure time? It helps you with stress and lets you be who you are as an individual.” At work, “we may even daydream a little” about some hobby “we can’t wait to get home and engage in,” she says. “It gets you through your day, and you’re excited when the moment comes that you can actually get involved in it.

“We all have such a vast variety of skills and hobbies that it is so important to provide a wide range of activities to meet people’s needs—everything from exercise to drumming circles,” she says.

“If I just plan games and parties, and a repeat of bingo, bingo, bingo, 30 residents might not be interested in that at all.

“And they’ve already had such a big quality of life, and then they have a stroke and their life shrinks to the four walls in a nursing home, and they can’t even have all their family heirlooms in their room because the rooms are too small,” she says, her voice full of emotion.

“So to find an activity that engages them enough to daydream about during the day, or even introduce them to a new hobby—it’s the least we can do for them. They were important people in the community,” and they’re still important and deserve a well-rounded life, she says.

“I’m blessed to be able to do this.”