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Live with Purpose - March 26, 2024

A Century of Stories: Goodwin Living Residents Share Words of Wisdom

by Cameren Golden

In the role of a Marketing and Communications Intern at Goodwin Living, I’ve been exposed to many rich and diverse life stories from those who live in this vibrant community. Today, I have the privilege to share the stories of The View Alexandria (TVA) resident Eva Sorensen, Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads (GHBC) resident Alfred Goldberg and Goodwin House Alexandria (GHA) resident Ginna Mittauer. These residents of the three Goodwin Living senior living campuses are resilient and wise individuals whose long lives offer unique perspectives on aging with purpose.

Eva Sorensen (100 years old)

Eva Sorensen became a resident of The View Alexandria by Goodwin Living in 2017. Born in 1923 in Wyoming, her family moved to Fort Madison, Iowa, when she was three years old. “That’s where I spent my school years,” she said.

In adulthood, she took on a more nomadic lifestyle that began with her husband’s military service in the 1940s. Eva quickly learned how to live with little during this time. “One of our earliest homes was on an Army base, where we lived in a shipping crate that held a bed and a hot plate,” said Eva. “After that, we managed to get into a government trailer, and that was like a proper home after where we had been living.”

The experience served her well. In the late 1960s, after her husband had left the Army, they converted a school bus into a motor home and spent four years traveling coast to coast.  “I lived in twenty-two states and had mailing addresses in twenty-two states. I’ve been in all 50,” she shared.

Settling into Goodwin Living in 2017, Eva embraced activities such as bowling, track and the Northern Virginia Senior Olympics. Her connection with fellow TVA resident Marilyn Rose Saga, evidenced by a surprise balloon party, speaks to the friendships and communal bonds formed in this dynamic living environment.

Alfred Goldberg (104 years old)

Born in Baltimore in 1918, Alfred’s early years were steeped in family dynamics with six brothers and four sisters. “On the whole, we got along very well,” he said. “We were fortunate in that we had good, kind and loving parents. That makes all the difference. We respected and loved our parents, so we behaved well. I would say we had a very happy and loving family.”

Alfred was a member of the U.S. Army in World War II, serving in England, France and Germany. Following the war and armed with a Doctorate in History from The Johns Hopkins University, he embarked on a career as the Chief Historian with the Department of Defense, where his dedication to writing histories and publishing books lasted well into his later years.

“We wrote a lot of histories, published a lot of books,” Alfred shared. “I worked full time until I was eighty-nine, and I worked half-time until I was ninety-five.”

Alfred’s move to Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads in 2001 didn’t mark a slowing down but rather a shift to weekly poker games and a continued thirst for knowledge.

Ginna Mittauer (95 years old)

Ginna Mittauer’s journey started in 1928 in Indiana. She wound her way through various states before finding a home in the Washington, D.C. area. “I think there’s an advantage to moving around,” she shared. “You realize the importance of getting acquainted with a new place as soon as you can, of getting involved.”

Ginna was a teacher for many years and worked with pregnant teen girls to help them finish high school in Arlington. “It was a wonderful program,” she said. “I taught English and Social Studies.”

After teaching for many years, Ginna retired, sold her house and moved into GHA. There, she became active within the GHA community. “I was the chairman of a lot of different groups,” she said.

Passing on Wisdom

Alfred Goldberg, aged 104, reflects on the satisfaction derived from life at Goodwin Living. “I think [GHBC] is a good place to live,” he said. “I do not have to leave what I have regarded as a normal existence at this age. I still get around with the help of this walker. I still read a lot. And I do a lot of thinking, of course.”

His thoughts lead toward advice for the next generation. “Treat people well,” he implored. “Be kind. It’s good enough for most people. There’s too much alienation among people, not just as individuals but as whole nations that have become alienated from one another.”

Ginna Mittauer, at age 95, cherishes the opportunities for engagement and community-building at GHA. “I make a new friend every year,” she continued. “Of course, here at GHA that is very easy because new people are coming in all the time!” Her advice for the next generation builds on the idea of engagement. “Get involved,” she said. “Find something that interests you, or something new that you want to try to learn and become involved in it.”

Eva Sorensen, aged 100, advocates staying physically and mentally active throughout life. “If you can still bowl at 100 years old, you know you’ve been active,” she said. “That’s why I continue to stay active now.”

Eva Sorensen’s active lifestyle underlines the importance of staying engaged regardless of age. Her example speaks to the core of each story, highlighting the universal significance of remaining active and involved.

These varied life stories represent a collective resilience, wisdom and vibrancy. Eva Sorensen’s commitment to staying active, Alfred Goldberg’s timeless message of kindness and Ginna Mittauer’s emphasis on community involvement all speak to the fundamental importance of connection and engagement. Their words serve as reminders that, regardless of age or circumstance, cultivating vitality, kindness, and community enriches not only our own lives but also the world around us.

Editor’s Note: We would like to thank former Marketing & Communications intern (now Goodwin Living Foundation Administrative Assistant) Mamie Bialecki for her help interviewing Alfred Goldberg and Eva Sorensen for this article.

_______________________________

Cameren Golden is a Senior Merchandising & Marketing major at Marymount University in Arlington, Va. As a Marketing & Communication intern for Goodwin Living, she assists with internal and external communications. She joined Goodwin Living as an intern in Fall 2023. Cameren is originally from Montgomery, Alabama and her family currently lives in Pennsylvania. In her free time she enjoys cooking with friends.

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