In densely-packed urban environments and sprawling suburban developments, people can often feel isolated despite living in close proximity to their neighbors. While high-rise residential buildings put many people and families literally on top of the other, and some HOA residents are separated from their neighbors by just a privacy fence, living side-by-side doesn’t automatically turn a group of people into a community; sometimes it even has the opposite effect.
Lives are busy and schedules hectic, and the last thing many people want to do when they’re at home is to socialize with their neighbors. Building a sense of community in a co-op, condo or HOA is valuable, however—it creates a network of communication and support among residents as well as between residents and board members—and this ultimately improves the quality of life within the community as a whole.
If a sense of community has value—both real and perceived—what is the best way to achieve this network of support and communication? What steps should an HOA take to foster this intangible benefit? What, if any role, should property managers play in building community awareness? What can busy residents contribute to improving the quality of life in the place they call home? Read on to find out.
Audrey Davis-Stok, the lifestyle director for the Del Webb homeowner association located on Great Island in Plymouth, Massachusetts, coordinates a wide variety of clubs, special interests groups and seminars for the community’s 1,000 residents.
“What makes this particular HOA unique is that we are a Del Webb community, so we foster a concept of lifestyle programming,” she says. Del Webb is one of the nation’s leading builders and focuses on developing active adult 55-and-over communities. “We have charter clubs and those are clubs that are voluntarily run by residents. They provide an abundance of activities and events. We have an activities club and they do things like wine dinners, bus trips to museums and meet-and-greet parties. Plus we have daily activities like mahjong, bridge and people come in and out of the clubhouse all day to participate.”