After months of pilot adventures, the time has come for Passport to Travel to take off.
Initiated by CHHSM’s Senior Services Collaborative (CSSC), the first-of-its-kind travel program will officially launch this month. It will give residents at eight CHHSM-related senior living organizations free accommodations at a sister community for up to two weeks.
“I would highly recommend it,” says Bill McGrue, a resident at Beatitudes Campus in Phoenix, Ariz., who recently test-drove the program in its pilot phase. “It’s the biggest bargain in terms of lodging.”
McGrue traveled to Phoebe Berks in Wernersville, Pa., one of 11 possible destinations for travelers. He stayed in a brand-new, two-bedroom apartment, complete with welcome basket and guides to the community and local attractions.
“I was taken by their extensive hospitality,” he says.
Robin Staudt, the Passport to Travel coordinator at Phoebe Berks, went so far as to research McGrue’s likes and dislikes before his trip, hoping that she could cater to his interests. Upon discovering that McGrue is a genealogy aficionado, she arranged for him to meet with a Phoebe Berks resident expert in the field.
McGrue traveled to Jim Thorpe, Pa., a town an hour and a half away, where his great-grandfather once lived. There, he looked for records of his great-grandfather’s marriage and explored the town. He also spent an entire day in Hershey, Pa., touring The Hershey Company and sampling its chocolate confections. In fact, McGrue put more than 1,000 miles on his rental car during his 12-day stay.
Staudt also connected McGrue with five residents who became steady companions on his trip, meeting up for meals and excursions.
“The camaraderie is very heartwarming,” Staudt says. “They love learning about each other’s facilities and they keep in touch. It was definitely a success, not only for participants, but for staff as well.”
Mahree Morin of McGrue’s home community, Beatitudes Campus, couldn’t agree more. “Some of these residents haven’t been able to travel, and this is a great opportunity to try different communities,” she says.
To participate in the program, residents are asked to contact the Passport to Travel representative at their home community. Communities interested in taking part can contact CHHSM Vice President Michael Readinger at firstname.lastname@example.org.