Opus: A community of like-minded people is taking shape

Opus Newton

Sometimes, a new idea is enthusiastically embraced by consumers hungry for something better. That’s the case with 2Life’s Opus initiative. Ground has not yet been broken, but already a vibrant community is forming around 2Life’s innovative, middle-market senior living model for people 62+.

Opus was born as a solution to a growing gap in what’s available for older adults to live in community. While the government makes options available to low-income older adults and the private pay market offers lots of options for the affluent, there is a huge group — the forgotten middle — that has been closed out. Putting the joy and health benefits of living in community within reach for this group is what Opus is all about.

As with all of our campuses, Opus is designed around the concept of aging in community — living full lives of connection and purpose in a dynamic and supportive environment. The Opus prototype also includes some exciting new innovations. For example, Opus residents agree to volunteer within the community for 10 hours each month. Each person contributes to the community while enjoying the satisfaction that comes from engaging with others — and receiving support in return. This approach is exactly what some people have been looking for.

More than 360 people made priority deposits starting in fall 2021. We held individual meetings with these families and began taking actual reservations at the end of April. Today, about 30 percent of the apartments are now reserved. “Opus has attracted a group of future residents who truly believe in community and want to be part of something bigger than themselves. The people who are joining Opus are amazing,” says Sharon Brooks, 2Life’s chief marketing officer.

Nancy Dale and MaryBeth Noonan are one such couple. “Throughout our lives, community has been important to us and we wanted to carry that through in this next phase of our lives,” Nancy says, adding that they are excited about the volunteering aspect. “I look forward to helping others so that when I need help, I’ve put into the social bank and get something back.”

MaryBeth adds that volunteering has long been part of her life. “It’s a way to make a contribution and help build community.”

The Opus visitor center is already a hub of activity. Located at the future Opus site on the Coleman House/JCC Greater Boston campus in Newton, it’s a place where people can learn about the Opus model and see plans for this beautiful building. Opus depositors have had the chance to meet each other through virtual cocktail parties on Zoom and an in-person event at the Larz Anderson park and museum in Brookline. Last week more than 150 gathered for a garden party to celebrate summer and meet future neighbors at Gore Place

“The events have been great. People were so glad to meet each other and exchange information. Everyone has been so welcoming,” Nancy Dale says, noting that Opus has attracted people with diverse backgrounds and interests. The couple is already building friendships with their future Opus neighbors.

Opus is paving the way toward housing that emphasizes income inclusivity, enabling 2Life Communities to serve diverse income levels. Based on the reaction we’ve seen from the hundreds of people embracing this opportunity, it’s an idea whose time has come.

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