Americans today are working harder and spending more time on the job these days. And when they finally arrive home at night, they tend to turn on their computers, iPods or televisions as their primary source of entertainment. In fact, a study by the Entertainment Software Association found that 67 percent of American heads of households now play computer and video games.That type of “recreation,” however, doesn’t exactly build a sense of community among neighbors. Faced with that reality, homeowner associations must be more innovative and persuasive than ever if they hope to get residents off the couch, out the front door and participating in association events.
Fortunately, creating community-oriented activities doesn’t have to involve massive planning or great expense. Bringing an association’s residents together can be as simple as opening the community center for regular social hours or inviting them to participate in a potluck dinner.
Dish Up a Variety of Events
“We have a small committee—the Friends of Ridgewood—that sets up events. They’re all volunteers, and they enjoy doing it,” says BarbaraSantiago, on-site manager at Ridgewood Village Condominium Association in Chicopee, Massachusetts.
With a significant population of “over-55” residents, that effort may be easier at a community like Ridgewood than at communities with a larger percentage of young families, Santiago concedes. But there are always ideas available for family-oriented activities.
At Ridgewood, dinner gatherings are popular; a St. Patrick’s Day meal drew about 40 residents, and the annual pig roast is a favorite event. But younger residents are not forgotten—and homeowners who don’t have children at home are welcome to bringgrandchildren to events like the Halloween party.