Life at Jubilee: Hawk’s Prairie Retirement Community is Just as Jubilant as You’d Expect

Jubilee Neighborhood
Congenial hostesses for my visit to Jubilee, from left to right: Cheryl Melchior, Mary Ellin Stark, Charlene Heryla, Mid Parmley, and Marlene Stranz. Photo credit: Jerica Pender

The word jubilee can mean a time of celebration, festivity, and joyful revelry. It’s the perfect name for the large, multi-neighborhood community of age 55 or better residents. The community encompasses 1,135 houses to-date, and is situated in the once-sleepy Hawks Prairie area, among two golf courses and Puget Sound shoreline.

Melanie Bakala logoAesthetic beauty aside, Jubilee seems to have a heartbeat of its own. Its lifeblood is its many active residents that course through its veins, which are actually just the immaculately kept streets. From a distance, Jubilee could look like any other charming and soon-to-be built-out community, but the minute you step foot inside you realize there’s something very different happening here. Something wonderful.

I was invited by Mid Parmley, a 15-year resident of the Bainbridge neighborhood, the first neighborhood built in Jubilee, to sit down with her and 4 of her friends inside the majestic, (even during its current renovation), Jubilee Lodge. Admittedly, I was a little intimidated to interview such a large group at once, but Mid and her friends, Marlene Stranz, Mary Ellin Stark, Cheryl Melchior, and Charlene Heryla were instantly welcoming. Though these lovely ladies and I are in different seasons of life, I felt a kinship with them. We had all arrived and sat around the table for the same reason – our shared love of connection.

Jubilee Lodge Facade
The facade of the Jubilee Lodge is just as grand as the interior. Photo credit: Jerica Pender

Connections are what Jubilee residents are good at. While certainly not a requirement to live within one of the 11 villages, it is what seems to draw most residents in. The five women shared that the sentiment they hear most often from attracted newcomers is that Jubilee appealed to them for the amenities it offers. The spacious Jubilee Lodge clubhouse boasts over 26,000 square feet and outside there’s even more. Tennis courts, covered pavilions, trails, beaches – there’s a lot to take in. But, aside from the tangible things that Jubilee has to offer, it was the things about Jubilee that you couldn’t physically touch that got these women beaming.

Mid shared, “It’s the best move we ever made!” She and her husband took a leap of faith and were one of the first residents to move to Jubilee.

Charlene moved shortly after, stating that she heard an ad on the radio for it and there wasn’t even a model house built yet. There were only pictures. She and her husband had come to check out the nearby golf course and bought their home that same day.

It was these leaps of faith that began to fill up the Bainbridge neighborhood and soon after committees and clubs, service work and most importantly friendships began to form. Charlene recalled that, “It arose out of Bainbridge because we were the first village. We were the ones that kind of got everything started and it went from there.”

Jubilee Marlene in her Yard
Marlene Stranz smiles in her front yard in the Bainbridge neighborhood, the first to form in Jubilee. Her front yard is maintained as a perk of living there, but the backyard is her responsibility. Photo credit: Jerica Pender

Mid quickly quipped, “Not kind of! We did.”

In the early days, pre-Lodge, Mid says, “We used to have our events in the cul-de-sacs, in our driveways, and in our homes. The Bainbridge neighborhood was fortunate in that we got to know each other in a different way because we were forced. We didn’t have a place to go.”

Nowadays, new residents find the amenities at the Lodge and are then introduced to the rest through the Newcomer’s Group, anchored by Mid and Mary Ellin.

Driveways, backyards, living rooms, they are often still the greatest gathering places among neighbors. Through their comradery, the residents of Jubilee have knit together a strong social fabric that blankets them all. More than one woman at the table emphasized how the residents of Jubilee take care of each other. “We have a really good system of supporting each other,” Mary Ellin offered.

She detailed a program called Helping Hands that originated in the Bainbridge neighborhood, but has since spread to all of the villages. Village coordinators serve as the point person to help organize volunteers who are willing to loan medical equipment, provide rides, hospital visits, meals – whatever is needed in the short-term to see a person through their hard time.

At Jubilee, clubs, committees, activities, and service work are carried out daily and on almost any topic you can think of. The women feel that what makes the programs great is the constant evolution. New people who move to Jubilee bring with them new ideas and Cheryl thinks that this neighborhood “keeps you young, and keeps you going.”

Books in the Jubilee library are donated by residents. Readers are free to take a book and return it at their leisure without the hassle of check-outs. Photo credit: Jerica Pender

I think we all want to live in a place like Jubilee someday.

“I can’t imagine retirement,” Mid says, “without the comradery we have.” Her friends echoed her sentiments in adding that life without Jubilee would be boring and lonesome.

After our interview, Marlene graciously invited me to her home to give me an idea of what a Jubilee home is like. Back when she agreed with her husband to move to Jubilee, it was on the condition that she get to pick the lot. She picked a fantastic one indeed, well-appointed for entertaining with a beautifully landscaped yard that overlooks a scenic pond on the golf course. When I was leaving, I asked if I could hug her. She replied, “Absolutely. As you can see, we are a hugging [and loving] bunch here.”

To learn more about Jubilee call 360-923-1584 or visit them on the web. Your new friends await you.

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