May Oka, a Thrive program leader at The Gardens at Town Square in Bellevue, has quadrupled attendance at the facility’s Bridge Club in the last 18 months. Photo courtesy of The Gardens at Town Square

Eastside Thrive program seeks to thaw ‘Seattle Freeze’

  • Tuesday, November 7, 2017 11:53am
  • Life

The Seattle Freeze is legendary with locals. Now, the Seattle Thaw is underway thanks to a group of senior citizens.

By engaging in acts of kindness and service in their neighborhoods – schools, the homeless, and families in need – seniors are ending the Seattle Freeze and potentially extending their own lives in the process.

These socially vibrant seniors are enrolled in a program called Thrive, offered at four senior living communities on the Eastside. Thrive was created by Era Living and uses evidence-informed protocols, many researched in partnership with the University of Washington, inside of Era Living communities, to help residents get healthy and stay well.

May Oka, a Thrive program leader at The Gardens at Town Square in Bellevue, has quadrupled attendance at the facility’s Bridge Club in the last 18 months because of her welcoming attitude.

“I love people,” she said. “There’s new people coming in all the time.”

After moving to The Gardens at Town Square, Oka started the Sunshine Committee to welcome others, and encourage a more robust social scene.

Oka said she’s recruited people to various classes and activities, including line dancing, mind matrix and more.

“As you grow older, you’re afraid to try something new, so it’s really important to keep launching programs or parties and sing together so the members feel it’s a fun place to belong to and that they’re apart of it,” she said.

Oka said she grew up on San Francisco’s skid row. Her mother instilled a deep sense of always giving a little extra. It helped Oka’s family survive and later thrive as Oka made her way through college and into her adult life. She taught business classes throughout her career. At one point, she was named National Business Teacher of the Year. Oka spent most of her adult life in Portland.

When Oka and her husband, Shugiro, moved to The Gardens at Town Square, they were new to the Seattle area and experienced some of the Seattle Freeze.

But she said she and her husband have been blessed in life, so her mission has been to pay that back.

“Our mission is to hug and greet everyone if they’re new or if they have a problem,” she said. “… Being here a year, we have not met one person that we didn’t just absolutely love.”

To learn more The Gardens at Town Square, visit www.eraliving.com/communities/bellevue

More in Life

The Most Merry Parades and Parties Around Puget Sound

Lights, boats, and Santas run amok!

Lvl Up Sprites replace pixels with beads. Courtesy of GeekCraft Expo
The Holiday Shopping Guide to Unique Gifts and Memorable Moments

Bazzars, pop-ups, and retail events from Seattle to Bellevue and beyond.

The third annual Historic Shell Holiday Shop opens on Nov. 24 at the Historic Shell Station in Issaquah. Courtesy photo
The Gas Station That Turned Into a Holiday Shopping Destination

A holiday pop-up shop filled with heart and handmade gifts.

The Season’s Best Performances, Plays, and Nutcrackers

Holiday stories from stages in Bellevue, Seattle, and throughout King County.

Garden delights with over half million dazzling lights in Bellevue

The well-lit habitat attracts all kinds of creatures.

Bellevue-based Friends of Granger nonprofit celebrates 14th year of giving

Year after year, Joan Wallace emails “100 of her closest friends” around… Continue reading

Thanksgiving insights from W Bellevue’s chef

Thanksgiving is upon us. Check out this Q&A with W Bellevue’s Chef… Continue reading

Northwest Wine: Northwest rosés ideal for holidays

One of our favorite food-pairing wines is rosé because of the flavors… Continue reading

Sammamish Good Health to host weekly comedy shows to say ‘thank you and goodbye’

Huge lineup: Andrew Rivers, Kermet Apio, Geoff Lott confirmed

Bellevue Magic Season returns for 21st year

Expanded Magic Season Ice Arena moves back to Bellevue Downtown Park

‘Quilters’ the musical set for Nov. 3-4 in Bellevue

Forest Ridge will present “Quilters,” the musical at 7 p.m. on Nov.… Continue reading