’Tis the Season … Atria Senior Living and Soldiers’ Angels: a Story of Holiday Giving

By Jim Nelson | December 19, 2023

’Tis the season…. The season to be jolly, as the song goes, but also the season for peace on earth and goodwill toward men. It’s in that spirit that Atria Senior Living, an operator and manager of about 350 independent-, assisted-living, and memory-care communities across the United States and Canada, has partnered with Soldiers’ Angels, a worldwide network of volunteers — representing all 50 states, Washington DC, and 31 countries abroad — who work tirelessly to ensure that those who serve or have served in the U.S. military are “supported, uplifted, and remembered”  in a variety of ways.

Soldiers’ Angels’ mission is to “provide aid, comfort, and resources to the military, veterans, and their families,” and Atria Senior Living’s mission is to proudly support them in their mission to show their appreciation to our brave veterans stuffing 40,000 stockings for this year’s Holiday Stockings for Heroes.

With that in mind, Atria’s residents all across the country have stuffed stockings with a fun assortment of holiday-themed items, and the senior living organization has extended the spirit of the season by inviting local neighborhoods to attend and participate in these stocking stuffings.

“This is the first year we’ve worked with Soldiers’ Angels,” Atria’s VP of Engage Life Justin Guest told Senior Living News. “This comes out of a bigger scope of our work, when it comes to philanthropy, Care for Your Communities, where we focus on partnering and working with other nonprofit organizations — whether that’s men and women and military, youth, or older adults, we try to work with our communities in unison, in order to give back and to serve, and to impact a greater number of people.

“We know as a company that we have an amazing opportunity when it comes to all of our residents and our staff, with the wealth of knowledge and wisdom they have and the talent and treasure that they have built up over the years, to be able to serve and to do that together,” Guest added.

The idea to stuff stockings for Soldiers’ Angels was spearheaded by a few members of Atria’s staff and some of its residents who wanted to do more for folks in active military service, or in VA hospitals.

Atria Roslyn Harbor resident Jean Gray took her love of knitting and turned it into a way of saying thank you to servicemen and women.

“I had a knitting store,” Gray told us, “and I love to make hats and things for people; it sounded like a great idea to give back.”

As for what went into the stockings, fellow Atria Roslyn Harbor resident Jojo Gencorelli told Senior Living News, “We put a pair of socks, we put beef jerky, candy canes, a deck of cards, peanuts, puzzle books, packs of pens, peppermint crunch, a hat on top, which was basically thought of by Jean….”

“A hand-knit hat on top,” offered Atria’s Senior Engage Life Director Meagan Devine-Collazo. “We had a lot of fun, quirky holiday socks and glasses, reindeer — just fun things for the holidays.”

“The stockings were absolutely chockablock full,” concluded Gencorelli, who came to the U.S. from her native England more than six decades ago and still sports a lovely southern English accent.

“We had a great time doing it,” Gray recounted. “We loved stuffing them, I loved making the hats, and I just love giving back because it’s wonderful to knit for people.”

“We did 25,” Gencorelli said of the number of stockings they stuffed at their Long Island, New York, community. Those 25 were part of a larger enterprise.

“Between all of our Atria-branded communities, we currently have a little over 2,840 donations going to this nonprofit,” said Guest. “It’s quite an achievement. The stockings that our residents and staff have worked so hard on is going to make quite a big impact this holiday season.”

“My dad was very much involved in the first World War,” Gencorelli replied when we asked about her connection to the military, “and when I was at school, we had to knit socks for the soldiers in England. I love giving back; it’s very much part of my upbringing, so this was just absolutely super for me to do. I loved doing it and I would do it again and again and again.”

“I have two brothers that were both in the Marines,” Gray said about her reasons for helping to stuff stockings. “It was just part of my life, and I was going out with somebody who was a Naval Air Corps, so I’m very involved with that, and I love giving back to that.”

In addition to this opportunity to give back by helping to stuff stocking for service people, both ladies told us that they enjoy participating in many of the activities at their Atria community.

“I love to do anything just to keep me busy,” Gray said. “I’ve been busy all my life, and I still want to be busy. I like playing games, I like Wheel of Fortune, I love knitting and I love teaching knitting. I knit every single day, so that’s my favorite, but I’m willing to do anything because I just love doing, I love being part of something.”

“I really do love all the activities here at Atria,” Gencorelli stated. “Atria is a wonderful place. Meagan [Devine-Collazo] and her three other teammates put on the most wonderful activities; we have movies, we have entertainment — I have to admit that I am part of the entertainment at times because I do play the piano, and so every now and again, I put on a little soiree with singing and dancing and bells. And that’s very much part of my life, music.

“I have also volunteered at the church to play for their services when they need somebody,” Gencorelli concluded. “I love volunteering in every way; I’m also part of the ambassador’s group and the resident council group, so I’m pretty busy.”

This is just one of the many feel-good stories coming from senior living communities this time of year, stories of giving and good tidings. With the good feelings engendered by these stories and so many more, we have the opportunity to make it our mission to turn “’Tis the season” into a 24/7/365 endeavor.

Happy Holidays!


Jim Nelson

Jim Nelson is the Editor at Senior Living News, an online trade publication featuring curated news and exclusive feature stories on changes, trends, and thought leaders in the senior living industry. He has been a writer and editor for 30+ years, including several years as an editor and managing editor. Jim covers the senior living sector for SeniorLivingNews.com, distributes its e-newsletter, and moderates panel discussions for the company’s HEALTHTAC events.

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