Enhancing the Lifestyle through Meaningful Experiences with the Linger Longer Living Series

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Cultural Programs
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Written by Ashley Jeffords

Enhancing a moment can change an outcome of any given situation. Most strive to improve upon moments day after day; even the smallest improvements can make the biggest impact to the betterment of one’s own life and those around him.

Over nine years ago, Marie Garrison started a journey to do just that; she challenged herself to one very specific goal – to enrich the lifestyle of members and enhance their overall experience at Reynolds Lake Oconee. Garrison wanted to bring a new form of programming – one focused mainly on the educational and cultural arts and that would allow members the unique opportunity to experience something both meaningful and memorable. She asked herself, “How can I build an ever-evolving series with its own true identity here at Reynolds Lake Oconee and different from any other amenity offered?” Garrison decided to start with the audience themselves – the members.

“In the beginning, I met with several members to really kick-start my research. I learned so much about their talents, skills and many interests; I just knew I wanted the program to be a reflection of our members.”

Garrison then began building and establishing relationships with universities, artists, musicians and lecturers, and from these efforts, the Linger Longer Living series was born and quickly grew a life of its own; a life Garrison never knew was possible.

“I want to create magical moments for our members; ones so magical they walk away with an even greater thirst for knowledge.” And many of the members agree, as the series has developed a very strong following.

Recent members since March 2014, George and Patricia Fleet are advocates for the series, applauding the diverse content of programming Garrison coordinates. “Marie has assembled an interesting mix of highly professional experts and created a unique variety of topics for us,” say the Fleets. “Members who attend are like-minded, curious about the world around them, with a desire to continue learning about current events. They are forward thinking – interested – and sometimes just as interesting in their own right as the speakers!”

This variety of quality programming ranges from lectures and discussions, hands-on experiences, food and wine tastings to five-course dinners and concerts; guests have included Rebecca Lang, cooking instructor, author, food writer, and contributing editor for Southern Living magazine; Peter Dale, chef and owner of The National as well as the “2012 People’s Best New Chef Southeast” for Food & Wine magazine; Steve Dancz, jazz performer and pianist; and Julia Forbes, High Museum expert – just to name a few.

With such an array of disciplines and guests, Garrison also ensures the venue provides the perfect setting to make that “magical moment” become a reality. “Reynolds Lake Oconee affords so many options to host the events, offering members a different setting every time.”

“Whether the intimate venue of the Rock House or the larger stage of the Sandy Creek Barn or the wonderful Overlook at Great Waters, each of these events are here for us to savor and enjoy,” say Chris and Kathy Manners, residents at Great Waters since 2005. “We enjoy having these talented and interesting people come to Reynolds Lake Oconee.”

And it’s not just the members who are moved by what Garrison has created and continues to enhance with every event; even the performers are blown away with the enthusiasm and excitement of the audience.

Recently in February, the University of Georgia’s Saxophone Studio led by Professor Connie Frigo performed at the Rock House, and after the performance many attending carried on a dialogue with the performers for almost an hour. “Not only were the saxophonists an amazing blessing for our members, but the attendees were a fantastic audience as well,” says Garrison.

Following the performance the next day, Garrison received an email from Professor Frigo:

“You and your audience gave us the greatest gift possible, which were your full hearts and minds. In return, this reached my students deeply and validated that what they do is meaningful and important. It was an unforgettable evening. I’ve performed and organized hundreds of concerts in my career and this without a doubt now claims a t op spot for most memorable and special experiences. The fact that it affected my students so viscerally is a gift to me.”

This deep appreciation for learning and culture is what makes the Linger Longer Living series so special to all involved. While the golf courses, tennis courts, pools and Lake Oconee provide hours of outdoor recreation, it’s this amenity that stimulates the mind and exposes members to the rich culture right outside their doors.

The addition and success of the series has only enhanced the lifestyle here at Reynolds Lake Oconee since its inception, and it keeps growing and evolving into something much more beautiful than ever imagined. “I love being able to package each experience in such a way that is unique to Reynolds Lake Oconee and a true gift to the members,” says Garrison. “It has really come into its own since we started in 2006, and it is a joy exploring and having the opportunity to showcase amazing personalities near us.”

Members since 2001, Dick and Wendy O’Toole truly sum it up best when they say, “A life without the arts would be colorless and the Linger Longer Living series is our rainbow!”

The Linger Longer Living series offers new experiences each month with admission prices varying per event. With many events selling out throughout the year, it is important to reserve your spot quickly. For more information on the entire Linger Longer Living series and its upcoming schedule of events, please visit www.lingerlongerliving.com.

 

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