At Vi at Bentley Village, a Life Plan Community in Naples, Florida, “flying solo” means you are living at the community alone or have recently moved to the community alone. But thanks to the Flying Solo Social Club, residents don’t stay that way for long.
Breaking the Ice
Founded by residents Shirley Hartmann and Helen Wright and borne from their own experience, the Flying Solo Social Club was created to help break the ice and make the transition to the senior living community easier for new, single residents. “I found it hard to go to dinner by myself when I first moved in. Walking to the host stand by yourself, it can be very intimidating,” said Helen. “We don’t want our neighbors who are new and flying solo to sit home alone at night. We want them out with us at dinner, having fun,” said Shirley.
Enter Flying Solo, a social gathering hosted every Friday night in the East Clubhouse for single residents. With the help of the Lifestyle Department and the weekly support of the dining room staff, the evening runs like clockwork and includes a cocktail hour with drinks and hors d’oeuvres followed by group dinner in the Seaside dining room. “It is a family, team atmosphere here, the staff happily support the group, from telling new residents all about it when they move in to getting reservations taken each week,” said Pam Fultz, Bentley Village community relations manager.
From Solo to a Full House
The only rule for securing a seat at dinner with the Flying Solo Social Club is that reservations must be made in advance, and that’s because of the popularity of the group. “Right away it took off, from the beginning,” said Helen. “I don’t think we’ve ever had less than 35 attendees every Friday in all the years it has been going on,” said Shirley.
The casual atmosphere, informality and reputation for fun and laughter attract new and longtime residents alike. For most it has become a standing date on social calendars. “It’s just a thing that you can go to and feel free to be yourself and be by yourself because you aren’t going to stay by yourself for long. Two minutes, and somebody will be talking to you,” said Helen.
And while the group consists almost exclusively of solo female residents, that doesn’t mean it isn’t also open to men. They just have to be brave enough to attend. “It’s a lot of laugher and talking, which is why I think the few men who do come are a little intimidated by us,” laughed member Nancy Sargent.
Founders Helen and Shirley are humble about the impact of the group they started, attributing its success to the community itself. “We have the best staff, the best residents, it’s just the best place to live,” shared Shirley. For their part, they just find it funny how often they end up sitting with each other. “Sometimes by the time everyone gets seated for dinner there’s only a table for two left,” said Shirley. “So, we’re stuck with each other again. It’s a good thing we get along so well,” said Helen.
Vi at Bentley Village is a life plan community in Naples Florida. Nestled on 156 acres, with a private 18-hole golf course and 12 miles of walking trails, this senior living community is known for its top-notch service, outstanding amenities and a casual but, elegant atmosphere. Contact us today to learn more, schedule a tour or download a brochure!