Residents at The Shores in Ocean City enjoy making some holiday goodies. (Photos courtesy of UMC at The Shores)


Christmas caroling, piano and violin concerts, holiday movie nights and friendly competitions of who could make the best chocolate bomb may seem like fun things to do if starring in a festive movie. But these are just some of the activities residents at United Methodist Communities (UMC) at The Shores in Ocean City can do throughout the holidays.

“Christmas is all about tradition. We want this to be as much like home as possible. We continue with the traditions you would have at home,” Mary Kate Somers, director of Community Life at The Shores, said Tuesday.

There are 85 residents at The Shores for assisted living. What makes UMC unique is that there is a continuum of care from short and long term care to memory care or hospice, so that the resident does not have to leave the place they call home.

There are about 200 skilled staff members who take care of the residents.

Christmas trees and small spaces with comfortable furniture add to the warm atmosphere. (Note an employee playing Elf on the Shelf for residents)

Six Christmas trees decorated in themes from beach and ocean for Ocean City, to traditional and one decorated with Victorian-era looking ornaments create different festive atmospheres in different rooms.

A renovation that was completed in the fall, dramatically changed the look of The Shores, creating a more home-like environment, than a facility, UMC at The Shores employees explained.

Brooke Chappell, sales and marketing director summed up the feeling of the residents she speaks with.

“I think everyone is so joyful,” Chappell said. “I had a resident say, ‘I’m just so happy.’”

A violinist serenades the crowd with a holiday performance in The Bistro room.

The eatery for residents and staff called, The Bistro, features Taco Tuesdays, grilled Paninis and soups, among other choices for all tastes. In addition, residents and their families choose from different meal plans prepared by a chef.

Residents may choose one to three meals prepared a day as part of their package. There are also various religious services for the residents.

The latest technology, a library with computers and an array of books gives residents options for how they would like to read. The Ocean City Free Public Library Bookmobile also serves the facility.

“We are not about big spaces here. There are small spaces, where people can sit and talk and feel at home,” Somers noted.

One of the holiday parties features a pianist.

In addition to a renovation, came a new Executive Director Jim Zauner.

Zauner said many of the people who choose UMC at The Shores are from the surrounding area or vacationed in Ocean City.

“I feel fortunate to be a part of the UMC communities. It is warm and welcoming and it really is centered on the residents. That is part of the DNA of the culture here. It is about the people.”

When entering an assisted living facility, Zauner said, it is certainly not the best days for people in their lives.

“But the feedback from people as you go around is positive. Some people who were alone now have company,” he said. “It really is a warm and welcoming place.”

A resident greets Melly, the pet therapy dog on staff.

There is even a resident Labradoodle, Melly, who is a pet therapy dog under Somers’ care. “The residents love her,” Somers, who has been an employee at UMC at The Shores, said. “She is part of the family here.”

On a tour Tuesday, residents patted Melly as she visited with them. Christmas music played and groups of friends chatted in several areas.

Karen Cooper is the exercise physiologist, who was giving a chair yoga class to about 15 residents Tuesday.

“The residents enjoy it. They love the socialization aspect of it,” Cooper said. “They are the most engaged seniors. Fitness is so important, but it is also about the mind. I have had 95-year-olds say that they never worked out before or they never worked out so hard and that they are enjoying it.”

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Resident Hazel enjoys a visit from Santa.
The library offers an array of materials and computers for residents to use.
An employee stands behind a train set that is owned and operated by a resident.