“I was so happy Tony brought it up!” says Connie, a retired registered nurse and self-described details person. “I said to him, ‘There are such great stories to be told here, but none of them are in writing!’ And Tony said, ‘They aren’t – but they should be.’ And that’s really how the whole thing started.”
Part of the organizational plan in creating the newsletter was a trip to the Cleveland Sight Center. “We wanted to optimize the read-ability for our members, knowing that some have varying degrees of sight impairments,” says Connie. “So we learned about paper, fonts, colors, and columns versus continuous lines of print. We couldn’t implement everything we learned about maximizing readability, but we did as much as we could.” That includes making a large-print version of each month’s newsletter available at the Community Center’s front desk.
Now, five issues in, The Cardinal is really spreading its wings. A thoughtful mission statement explains that the newsletter will serve “as a medium for communication by residents and for residents. It will tell the stories of our lives, our interests, and our history at South Franklin Circle as part of the Judson community.” To that end, recent stories have run the gamut from resident and staff profiles to a column on pets and a history of South Franklin Circle – for a total of 19 categories of topics in all!
Local history also features prominently. Connie crafted a multi-part series on the founding families of the Chagrin Valley, working in consultation with the Chagrin Falls Historical
Society and Museum. And Drew, a retired psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, recently penned a history of the Judson retirement community. With the help of his son, George, who sits on the Chagrin Falls Architectural Review Board, Drew also plans to write about the restoration requirements in the Village for some of the area’s historic homes. (“So that way, we have a consultant!” beams Connie. “But he doesn’t know it yet,” adds Drew.)
While the founding foursome shares planning, editing and layout duties, as well as much of the writing, Connie is quick to caution that dozens of members help bring each issue to life. “It’s not just the four of us,” she says. “A lot of people are involved, and we wanted that from the very start.”
That includes the volunteers who fold approximately 300 copies of each issue, the security staff who delivers it, and 35 writers, beyond the core team, who have contributed content thus far, including SFC’s Director of Dining Services Sandy Bender, Vice President Bill Fehrenbach, and Judson’s past President and CEO Cyndy Dunn. “The administrative staff has been great!” Connie says. “When they saw the first edition, I think they were very impressed by the quality. They have certainly been so supportive.”
For now, Connie judges the project a success. “We’ve all received accolades about it. At this point, I think the newsletter is doing what it was meant to do: It’s getting members involved.” And as Drew notes, coming up with compelling future content should never be a problem. “We have some very accomplished people here,” he says. “So there will always be new stories to write.”