It was Nancy and David Knight’s daughter Becca who suggested they check out Asbury Place Kingsport.

Becca and her husband live in nearby Jonesborough, and had purchased their home from a couple who was moving to Asbury Place. So, tired of yard work, house maintenance and all the other headaches of home ownership, Nancy and David said so long to New Jersey and moved to their new Villa in 2017, five years into their ‘official’ retirement.

“We weren’t even 70 yet when we moved in,” says Nancy, now 71. Her initial fears that they’d be surround by “old folks” soon went away when they met their neighbors and discovered the youthful spirit that permeates Asbury Place.

“Everyone was so welcoming,” says Nancy. “And for the first time, I really felt like I was retired. Even though I had done it five years before, I was always taking care of the house and the yard — mostly the house and worrying what I would do if the roof blew off. I remember telling a friend that I felt like I had gone to heaven when I moved to Asbury Place.”

A pace that’s anything but ‘retiring’

Nancy’s “retirement” includes exercising in the gym, walking three miles each day, visiting nearby parks, and watching two of her grandkids, ages 5 and 7, every Tuesday.  She serves on the dining committee, the landscaping committee, the welcoming committee, the library committee and as chair of the birthday committee. She also formed the Butterfly Buddies, a small group of residents who came together to create a butterfly garden on campus.

“When I was a teacher, I helped another teacher raise Monarch butterflies, and I got hooked,” says Nancy.  While walking the Kingsport campus, she came upon a garden populated with caterpillars and milkweed plants, which she knew was the perfect recipe for a butterfly. Milkweed provides all the nourishment needed to transform a Monarch caterpillar into an adult butterfly.

She gathered the caterpillars and milkweed and put them into cages lining the main hallway in the Baysmont apartment building, so that everyone could watch the transformation. “A butterfly is just a miracle,” says Nancy, who with the Butterfly Buddies started another garden in an empty lot on campus.

Returning to normal

Now that the community’s programs and events are beginning to reopen, Nancy and David are hoping to get back into their habit of eating dinner with different people every night to connect with new people and learn more about their neighbors. When they go into the dining room and spot a table with vacant chairs, they politely ask if they can join the diners. “Everyone says yes,” reports Nancy.

After moving from Hampton, N.J., a small, rural town of 1,500 people, Nancy appreciates the value of community and how it makes you feel like you are a part of something bigger than yourself.  She found that same quality in the community of Asbury Place during a difficult time in her life.

“I was diagnosed with breast cancer in August of 2019,” says Nancy, who is now cancer-free.

“Being here was about the best-case scenario because I had a built-in support group. Many other women here had been through a mastectomy and their encouragement, and the prayers of the community, helped me through what otherwise would have been a very dark time.”

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