Q and A with Joan Carufel
Community Relations Officer at Horizon House
Joan Carufel sees potential in Horizon House’s partnership with SU.
When Joan Carufel was marketing director at Horizon House, a retirement community at 900 University St., she was intrigued by the role community relations could play in enhancing the lives of seniors. Eventually she became commu- nity relations officer and began building partnerships with other community groups to support opportunities for continuing education and health and wellness for Horizon House seniors.
There’s a national trend that connects seniors with learning opportunities at universi- ties, and in 2010 Horizon House and Seattle University entered into a partnership that continues to gain momentum. Carufel, a 1957 SU graduate, takes considerable pride in culti- vating this alliance
How does this educational partnership between Horizon House and SU work?
We had a good sense of how the university could enrich the lives of our residents. What we didn’t know at first was what our active seniors could bring to an institution of higher learning. We created many focus groups to explore both aspects and exchange ideas. We offer real-life opportunities for nursing, theology, business and law students. Retired professionals at Horizon House—attorneys, physicians and others—want to mentor SU students.And faculty members now give presentationsat Horizon House each quarter. We bring residents to campus to attend special lectures, plays and art exhibits, too.
What is the event called 3Rs: Renew, Recharge, Refresh?
What could be better than to be retired and experience the exhilaration of learning without term papers and tests and have your mind stimulated in a campus setting? It came from our residents’ wish list and began as a summer lecture series in 2010. The Northwest Center for Creative Aging, located at Horizon House, led in the planning. SU faculty gave two days of classes for seniors in 2011 on the campus. It was a success with seniors citywide. This year, 3Rs has grown to four days of programming at SU, June 11–14.
What is your next big goal for this partnership with SU?
We want to set a national standard. We’re hoping to create a roadmap for other urban retirement communities and urban universities. It’s so very desirable from both sides. As nonprofit organizations, we have an obligation to give back to the broader community.