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Seniors get down in Motown.

While the city of Detroit was rocking during the week of Super Bowl XL, more than 200 senior residents of Woodbridge Estates and Presbyterian Villages of Michigan's (PVM) four Detroit communities had their own party with Motown's fabulous Miracles and Contours.

Woodbridge Estates and PVM hosted the Resident Appreciation Party on February 2, 2006, at PVM's newest housing development, The Village of Woodbridge Manor Senior Living Community. As the Contours performed hits such as "Do You Love Me? (Now That I Can Dance)" and "First I Look at the Purse" and the Miracles sang "The Tears of a Clown" and "More Love," seniors danced in the aisles and in their wheelchairs.

Douglas DeCoursey, a resident at The Village of Woodbridge Manor, says, "The Miracles and Contours selected hits from when we were younger and they brought back memories. I also found it funny to see that seniors in the audience still have the hip-hop." Joy Smith, another resident, notes, "It was really a pleasure to see them. I've followed the two groups for years but never had a chance to see them in person. It was wonderful."

Berry Gordy, Jr., started Motown in 1959 with a $600 loan from his family. By 1972, he was the richest African-American in the United States. Many of the seniors reminisced about living in the same neighborhoods where Motown stars grew up, and one resident shared that his wife worked in the Detroit Motown offices in the '60s. Octavia Young, another resident, shared a particularly heartfelt story. In 1960, Young, a former jazz singer, heard that Gordy was auditioning singers. She wrote the lyrics for two original songs and had a musician friend write the music. On the day of the audition, however, she was so ill that she couldn't get out of bed. She ended up going to the doctor and finding out she was pregnant. Young had her baby in November 1960 and became a stay-at-home mom. She chose motherhood over Motown and was quite content with her decision. Another resident recalled that he and his wife had bought pots and pans from Gordy when he sold them door-to-door and still owned some of them.

There were many comments on how the music brought back "glorious" memories. "Good music never dies and stays with you forever. I couldn't help myself from dancing in the aisles. It took me back to the '60s," says Blondell DeCoursey. Some were surprised to see original members of the musical groups still dancing in the distinctive Motown choreographed style, and others were surprised by their fellow residents. Many said that, as older adults, they weren't supposed to still dance, that dancing was only for young people. But everyone in the audience, arthritic or not, older or not, wheelchair-bound or not, was encouraged to swing their arms, spin their chairs around, and just "let up."



Bob Schroeder, chair of the PVM Board, says, "The Motown sound transcends all kinds of lines, including generational ones. It was wonderful to share our mutual love of the Motown sound." Some residents were a little sore the next day, but everyone expressed wonderful feelings about how much fun they had.

Residents also talked about the neighborhood renewal that Woodbridge Estates and PVM have sparked. Jessie Crawford, a longtime resident of a PVM village, remarks how she had seen the neighborhood "go through so much" and was thrilled to see it become lively once again. "To bring new homes and all types of people together on land that once had deteriorated homes is truly wonderful," she says. Located on 47 acres within the city of Detroit, construction of the $92 million Woodbridge Estates is supported through public and private funding. Aimed at households of different incomes, it offers 101 single-family homes, 265 apartments, nearly 300 senior apartments in three existing towers, and now The Village of Woodbridge Manor. Interestingly, all of the streets are named after Motown groups, and the naming dedication will be held this spring.



The Village represents a unique collaboration of the efforts and resources of the Detroit Housing Commission, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Michigan State Housing Development Authority, Sun America Affordable Housing Partners, and Presbyterian Villages of Michigan.

This is PVM's fourth community in Detroit. Roger L. Myers, PVM president and CEO, says, "A fifth Detroit project, The Village of Oakman Manor Senior Living Community, will open in the fall of 2006. PVM has seventeen villages in all, including continuing care retirement communities, apartments and condominiums, assisted living, and Alzheimer's/memory care. Our commitment to government-subsidized housing and particularly to Detroit reflects our mission: guided by our Christian heritage, to serve older adults of all faiths and to create new possibilities for quality senior living."

The world may have watched the Rolling Stones in the Super Bowl half-time show, but these seniors had their own bit of fun, dancing and reminiscing with some of the best of Motown music--the Contours and Miracles.

Kay J. Miller is Vice-President of Marketing and Communications at Presbyterian Villages of Michigan. For more information, phone (248) 281-2020. To send your comments to the author and editors, e-mail


A collaboration of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging and Nursing Homes/Long Term Care Management Not-for-Profit Report, appearing in every issue of Nursing Homes magazine, addresses issues of particular interest to long-term care's not-for-profit sector. It provides nonprofit aging service providers with an additional information resource. Topics have been identified in collaboration with the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging. Nursing Homes welcomes comments and suggestions for future coverage.
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Author:Miller, Kay J.
Publication:Nursing Homes
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2006
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