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Countdown to 2024: The Greatest Forest Moments of 2023

10. Star Wars Party

This special event on May 4th (“May the Fourth be with you!”) transported Foresters to a galaxy far, far away with an array of movie-themed refreshments, a familiar soundtrack composed by John Williams, and a trove of fun props that added an extra touch of intergalactic charm. Special appearances by Storm Troopers, Darth Vader, and Princess Leia created unforgettable moments for Star Wars enthusiasts among both residents and team members. Partygoers certainly embraced the spirit of the gathering, which commemorated the popular franchise.

9. Derby Garden Party

The Rose Garden served as the perfect backdrop for this outdoor cocktail soiree. Entertained by the live music of singer-songwriter Kelly Hunt, whose music seamlessly blended folk, blues, and old-time genres, residents reveled in the spirit of the Kentucky Derby. With refreshing mint juleps, beer, and wine in hand, and adorned with their finest hats, guests partook in horse betting, with all proceeds generously donated to the Benevolent Fund. The festivities didn’t end there; the evening concluded with a collective viewing of the Kentucky Derby on the big screen in the auditorium, solidifying the Derby Garden Party as a memorable affair for all.

8. TFAD Dog Show

August is National Dog Month, and we’re nothing if not dog lovers at The Forest! We love any opportunity to celebrate our lovable canine companions, especially in the dog days of summer! This tail-wagging good time was one for the books, whether residents brought a furry friend along to compete or just came to watch all the fun as spectators. Dogs competed in unique categories such as Best Trick, Best Dressed, Waggiest Tail, and more. And, perhaps the canines’ favorite part of the event: treats were provided for both dogs and humans. It was a pawsitively delightful time! Corinne Garrett, Community Life Coordinator, even brought her dog to work to serve as honorary canine co-host of the show!

7. Senior Prom

Foresters enjoyed reliving the past with an elegant evening of moments they’re sure to cherish for years to come! Attendees came to the auditorium dressed to impress for an extraordinary night of dinner, dancing, friendship, and celebration. Plenty of folks made their mark on the dance floor, and funds from the event directly benefitted the Alzheimer’s Association. A fun night that serves a greater purpose? Count us in!

6. Alzheimer’s Awareness Week / Active Aging Week

Just as we do every fall, The Forest community came together with unwavering dedication in 2023 to champion a cause close to our hearts—Alzheimer’s awareness and research. Fueled by the tireless efforts of our dedicated Community Life team and the unwavering passion that defines The Forest, we hosted a series of impactful events over the span of two weeks. Together we raised an impressive $2,280 in support of the Alzheimer’s Association, reinforcing our commitment to eradicating this devastating disease.

5. Halloween Party

Always a frightfully good time, TFAD’s annual Halloween Party got us into the spooky spirit of the season. Though we were rained out of the Rose Garden, we pivoted over to the auditorium with enthusiasm to enjoy festive music, creepy crafts, and Halloween inspired treats. One of many joint resident and team member celebrations, this one was particularly special because it attracted a host of attendees donning full costumes for the occasion. It’s hard not to love the creativity that inevitably pops up year after year! Many of the ladies from Health Services and The Forest at Home teamed up to dress as various Chick-Fil-A sauces, and Matt Martin from IT complemented them well in his cow suit.

4. Turkey Trot

A beloved Forest tradition, featuring two familiar “turkeys” (Lena’ Kithcart of Sales & Marketing and Tom Bivens of Housekeeping) in full garb, the Turkey Trot is a leisurely stroll around campus in pursuit of said poultry. Each lap of this self-paced walk is about .75 mile, and attendees are always welcome to complete as many (or as few) laps as they desire. Afterward, stopping by the lobby to enjoy refreshments and photo opportunities with our two favorite gobblers is a must! This year, about two dozen residents and team members came together to “trot” the campus.

3. Park Clean-Ups

Our adoption of nearby Cornwallis Road Park—home to basketball courts, a disc golf course, playground, and various outdoor fitness equipment—is just one of many ways we’re proud to serve our neighbors and make a difference in the greater Durham community. Every month this year, with trash pickers and garbage bags in hand, groups of Forest residents and team members pitched in to clean the gardens, walkways, and playground space of the park. We are so grateful for opportunities like these, and for our wonderful friends at Durham Parks and Recreation, who generously provided our cleaning supplies!

2. Hope for the Holidays

As they do every December, a merry group of elves (Forest residents and team members, as well as staff from MIX 101.5 WRAL-FM staff and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Durham and Orange Counties) loaded up their carts at local stores with oodles of toys and other wish list items, preparing for a very special celebration for the BGCDOC. Hosted by The Forest at Duke and MIX 101.5 WRAL-FM, Hope for the Holidays is an important yearly event that ensures each Boys & Girls Club youth in the local area receives their very own special gift during the busy month of December. In addition to bringing joy to the Club and its volunteers, staff, and children, this campaign also lessens the cost burden of holiday gifts for local families. Later, at the Club party, Santa and his helpers deliver the gifts to the children!

1. Resident & Team Member Appreciation Parties

Against the backdrop of lively music, raffle prizes, delectable food, and an abundance of treats, these gatherings not only acknowledged the dedicated efforts of team members in enhancing the lives of residents but also celebrated the unwavering generosity and kindness demonstrated by residents toward team members throughout the year. A slideshow looped on the auditorium’s big screen throughout the event, sharing photos and messages of gratitude to all members of The Forest for their part in making our community the warm and welcoming place it has come to be known.

New Year’s Eve Party

After a fantastic year of activities and celebrations—far too many to list here, in fact—what’s next on the agenda? If we love anything at The Forest, it’s a good party. Residents are sure to look forward to another stellar New Year’s Eve Party put together by our terrific Community Life team. The shindig kicks off in the Auditorium and Community Center at 7:00 PM on Sunday, December 31st. Surrounded by good friends and neighbors, we’ll enjoy fun tunes from a DJ, sip tasty beverages, and indulge in mouthwatering desserts. With a year as extraordinary as 2023, it’s only fitting that we throw another unforgettable end-of-year bash before the new year begins!

Cheers to a happy and healthy 2024 and many, many more exciting memories yet to be made!

Lauren Young, Communications & Engagement Coordinator

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