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In the Media

Celebrating Benchmarks During a Pandemic

Categories: Resident Life

Lori wasn’t surprised last summer when she and Ron got a phone call requesting their help with a project. As active members in the Oak Hammock community, phone calls from any member of the community services department weren’t unusual. Little did they know that this particular phone call would turn their current state of pandemic melancholy to delight.

Rewind to March 2019. Ron and Lori Hoopes had begun planning their family reunion 15 months in advance. Summer 2020 marked their 60th wedding anniversary, and they planned to celebrate it with their two sons and their respective families. With Ron and Lori residing in Florida, both sons living on opposite ends of the country and grandkids all over the place, it was important to plan these reunions far in advance.

Ten years prior, for Ron and Lori’s 50th anniversary, the family celebrated on a family cruise to the Caribbean. The two sons collaborated in coming up with a unique gift idea to present to the celebrated couple on the trip. Ron and Lori were surprised with a beautiful handmade ceramic plate displaying the entire family painted on the front and beautiful bible verses written on the back. So when it came time to organize the big 6-0, the kids were eager to plan. Together they found a beautiful rental in Maine surrounded by lush gardens and walking distance to the shoreline that would accommodate the entire family. Excitement culminated as the date grew closer and closer.

But then, just a few months before they would head for their New England getaway, the COVID-19 pandemic quarantined the entire country, grounding planes and shutting the hospitality industry down.  The Hoopes were devastated when they realized they would not be seeing their kids and grandkids, and they would celebrate their milestone anniversary in Florida without the family.

Ron and Lori’s two sons knew they had to do something and would not let the monumental occasion go unnoticed. The eldest son called Katherine Osman, director of community services at Oak Hammock, and begged her for some ideas as to how they could surprise their parents. After much consideration and strategic scheming, the members of the community services department and the Hoopes’ kids devised a plan to present the celebrated couple with a monumental gift via Zoom.

On June 25, unsuspecting Lori and Ron put on comfy walking shoes, per Katherine’s request, and set off for a stroll with Katherine and a small team of staff. As they sauntered over to the pond on campus, Lori noticed Katherine was preoccupied with her phone.  After a few moments more of fumbling her device, Katherine exclaimed, “Oh, I finally got it!” She turned her smart phone to face Lori and Ron and to their surprise, their entire family was there on the screen wishing them a happy anniversary. They were then presented with a beautiful bench sporting a big bow and a little piece of paper that served as the temporary dedication.

Happy anniversary mom and dad, grandma and grandpa!

Ron and Lori and they were overwhelmed by the love and thoughtfulness from their family. Soon everyone was crying.

Now the wrought iron bench sits at the edge of the pond for all Oak Hammock residents and guests to enjoy. It tells the incredible story of love and dedication, no matter the distance, and is a beautiful reminder of family.

Ron and Lori are happy to report that, for the first time in over a year, they just returned from a trip to celebrate the wedding of a grandson who used Lori’s mother’s original engagement ring to propose.