A World Traveler Discovers the Ideal Destination

Meet Irene Schaefer

Fan Mail | Elim Park
Irene in the TWA uniform she last wore as a stewardess in 1990.

It was just before Christmas in 2020 when Irene Schaefer saw the sparkling Elim Park Christmas tree shining in the Bistro. “I knew in that moment that I was home—and I was absolutely right!”

Irene, a longtime resident of Chatham, NJ, who after her husband passed in 2020 wanted to be closer to her children and grandkids who live in Connecticut. Elim Park was the first community she looked at. “I could sense immediately that this was a place filled with warmth, friendliness and faith. Every day here proves my first impression was true.”

A stewardess for more than 30 years with TWA, Irene is a world traveler who loves adventure and meeting new people. “Residents say Elim Park is like a cruise ship on land and they’re not kidding! From Day One I signed up for everything—well, not everything because there’s simply too much to do every day. But whatever your interests, hobbies or background, you’ll find a world of activities and events to broaden your horizons. I’ve gone on trips to wonderful local theaters, such as the Legacy Theater in Branford, where we’ve enjoyed stellar productions. Being new to CT, I was thrilled with outings to Mystic Aquarium and Katherine Hepburn’s Museum in Old Saybrook. Our trip to the CT Convention Center for the renowned Beyond Van Gogh exhibit was breathtaking—thanks to our amazing activities director, Sharon Snow, who wisely bought a big block of tickets before they quickly sold out.”

“As a former stewardess, I’ve traveled extensively, and when I heard about an upcoming trip to Israel while attending a lecture series at Elim Park University, I knew I had to go.” Elim Park University (EPU) is a unique offering on campus where residents are the instructors as well as the students. As part of EPU, residents Clay and Joy Norman organized a guided, group trip to Israel that included five nights in Galilee and five nights in Jerusalem. “It was the trip of a lifetime,” says Irene.

“And while the out-trips are terrific, so is life here on campus. I love the classes at EPU, performances at Nelson Hall and pool aerobics in the Fitness & Wellness Center. Every day I walk to Main Street for a fresh Cappuccino. Well, sometimes it takes all morning to get back to my apartment because I run into so many friends and neighbors along the way. And my family just loves that I’ve moved here. In fact, my son-in-law says he wants to move in!”

“Frankly, it just keeps getting better every day. I’m really looking forward to seeing that beautiful Christmas tree again this holiday season—especially now that I call Elim Park my home.”