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Living in Grace with grace

An evangelical missionary finds grace in her SMDC home
/ 03:00 PM August 07, 2020

Noreen Marbella and her late husband Winston could have opted to join their children in the nearby condo that their daughter bought a few years ago. But occasional visits to that condo made them feel they wanted more. After all, this was going to be their retirement home following years of living in their White Plains residence.

One visit to Grace Residences in Taguig made them feel they had found home. They knew right away that the property gave a much bigger bang for the buck because of the amenities and the conveniences that the property offered them.

And why not? There is a shuttle service that brings residents to SM Aura everyday. Noreen did not have to go through the stresses of driving and looking for parking space nor bother anyone to drive her for her shopping needs and banking transactions. As someone who regularly travels around the world to fulfill her evangelical mission, accessibility to the airport has been another big plus. And her late husband’s consultancy work placed them at a strategic location close to three CBDs – Makati, BGC and Ortigas.

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But there was more to the property than the physical conveniences. It was that sense of community, that feeling of security, of home.

“I feel very safe here. We have strict security personnel, very attentive and helpful staff who not only maintain the upkeep of the place, but are also always there to provide assistance to residents, especially for seniors like me,” Mrs. Marbella says. “True to its name, this place is grace. It is like heaven on earth.”

She recalls an emergency situation where the property management staff immediately came to the rescue. “I needed to bring my late husband to the hospital. I could not do it alone. One call to the receptionist and a team of service staff immediately came complete with the emergency care kit and called for an ambulance to transport my husband to the hospital,” she adds.

She feels blessed to have picked the place that would give her the sense of community that she needs, especially at this time when she is still grieving her husband’s recent passing, and has been locked down in her home for the last three months. As a senior, she is not allowed to go out of the property.

“I do not feel alone or isolated here. I have friends that I am constantly in touch with, our service personnel attends to my needs, and SMDC is always initiating activities that make us residents feel we are taken care of,” she muses. “My husband and I made the perfect choice for a home.”

Mrs. Marbella has participated in all of the community activities that SM Development Corporation (SMDC) brought to Grace Residences as part of its The Good Guys project. She and her late husband actively participated in the emergency response trainings and in the elderly-targeted projects on fitness and mental health last year.

Three months into the lockdown, she does not feel isolated or limited; she is able to go about her day-to-day activities without going out of the property. “I can rest assured that I will have support from my community,” she says. “My groceries and medicine are bought for me!” she says, referring to the personal shopping services that SMDC set up for living-alone elderlies and PWDs as part of The Good Guys project. She also enjoys fresh fruits and vegetables and dairy produce through The Good Guys Market, which brings to SMDC residences farm-fresh produce from the farms of Benguet and Pampanga every weekend through a partnership with SM Foundation.

Today, Mrs. Marbella is waiting for her turn to partake of free medical services provided by SMDC in her property.

The Good Guys Health and Wellness Caravan was started last year in partnership with the Philippine National Red Cross. The lockdown set the caravan back by a couple of months, but it is now back in full force, providing free medical services to SMDC’s elderly and PWD residents. Services offered include uric acid, cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure and eye vision check-ups, medical consultation, X-ray and ECG.

Mrs. Marbella was happy to learn about the health and wellness caravan. She had been wanting to see her cardiologist to make sure her BP was under control but was scared of going out of her unit, even with the easing up of the lockdown to a general community quarantine.

She quietly observes the medical team conducting the caravan, and she is pleased with what she sees. “Social distancing is strictly enforced; chairs are positioned two meters away from each other. Medical staff are properly attired with PPEs, gloves, face shields and face masks and are constantly disinfecting the area, utility staff sanitize the area and someone controls traffic by limiting the number of allowable guests,” she observes.

“Thank you. You are indeed Good Guys!” she says.

Today is a special day for Mrs. Marbella, not only because she finally got her clean-bill-of-health clearance from the doctor, but also because she will be seeing her daughters for the first time in three months.

For a senior who lost her husband recently, and who has been locked in her home alone for three months, life could not be any tougher. But not for Noreen Marbella. While she may still be grieving, she has found relief in the company of her Grace Residences community, which makes her feel full and blessed. “This home is a prayer answered,” she says.#

The Good Guys Health and Wellness Caravan has gone to 7 properties – Field, Trees, Grass, Sea, Light and Jazz Residences. With over a hundred attendees per caravan, SMDC has served more than 700 residents in a span of one month.

SMDC intends to redouble its effort. It is bringing the Health and Wellness Caravan to various properties – including Sun, Princeton, Shell, M Place and Blue Residences – this year.#.

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