Dorothy and Philip Vaughn

You don’t often hear of seniors moving from Florida to Missouri. It’s usually just the opposite.

But last August Dorothy Vaughan, 83, and her husband, Philip, did just that, and despite the winter cold and snow that has come with their move north, Dorothy said since arriving here she’s experiencing life in a new way.

She credits their retirement community, The Homestead at Hickory View, Washington, with making all the difference and opening her to opportunities she never had.

Vaughan can now say she’s been in the newspaper, on the radio and on television — none of which she had ever accomplished before coming to Washington.

“It makes me feel great to think that I’ve been asked to do some of these things,” Vaughan said. “I came here with nothing to do but visit, but they got me involved with things.”

Originally from St. Anthony, Iowa, Vaughan spent the past 25 years living in Naples, Fla. When the Vaughan children wanted their parents to move closer, the couple began researching to where they might move. The couple have children in Washington, Kansas City, Mo., Des Moines, Iowa, Columbus, Ohio, Rochester, N.Y., and Rock Island, Ill.

One daughter, Diane, is neighbors with Barb Hellmann, sales manager at The Homestead, who encouraged the Vaughans to visit Washington.

After the visit, the couple said they had to think about their decision, but ultimately knew they would make the move. 

“We decided to sell our house. We listed it on a Monday and it sold on that Wednesday,” she said. 

Once they moved, Dorothy said she knew they made the right choice.

“We were actually overwhelmed when we got here, with how we were treated by the staff,” she said. “Everyone is outstanding.”

Beginning in November, Dorothy was actively involved in the tannenbaum auction, a yearly event at The Homestead. The auction helps raise funds for the Friends of Emmaus through the silent and live auction of wreaths, decorated Christmas trees, topiaries and other items.

Vaughan’s role was to dress up as a Christmas tree, with layers and layers of ribbons, and help sell tickets to the event. It was for the auction that Vaughan made her media appearances in The Missourian dressed as a tree, on KLPW for a tannenbaum auction ad and visited a St. Louis television station to promote the auction.

She visited restaurants, nursing homes and other places dressed as a tree. 

Vaughan said she was impressed with her first ever tannenbaum auction experience.

“It was unbelievable. It was absolutely beautiful. . . overwhelming. I’ve never seen anything like it,” she said. 

Vaughan also participated in a style show held at The Homestead. Her husband was her escort.

“It was pretty exciting,” she said, adding that she’s taken up a lot of other activities. 

Vaughan spends her time participating in “Marvelous Minds,” a trivia event at The Homestead, bingo, exercising, and taking the bus shopping or for other activities. 

The Homestead also has a salon for the residents to get their hair and nails done if they’d like. 

Vaughan said she found that she has a lot of extra time now that she lives at The Homestead. 

“I don’t really do much housekeeping,” she said, adding that she only has to do personal laundry. “I don’t cook, because meals are here (at The Homestead).”

She doesn’t have to go grocery shopping and can take the bus wherever she would like. 

To top if off, if it’s raining, the bus driver helps the passengers to the door and holds an umbrella. 

“I definitely enjoy this life,” Vaughan said. 

Vaughan said she keeps in touch with her Florida friends through email and has an iPad. But, she’s also made a lot of new friends, which is her favorite part about her move so far. 

Friends stop and visit and everyone knows each other at The Homestead, Vaughan said. 

“There’s a closeness here,” she said. “If something went wrong, everyone would help you. It’s like a family here — everybody cares.”

As an example, Dorothy said Philip had been using a cane for the past few days. 

“Everyone has noticed something different and ask what happened,” she said. “It’s amazing. My friends all say they need to move.”

In 2013, Vaughan said her main goal is for her and her husband to stay healthy.