By Terry Alburger, Life Engagement Coordinator

In my job as life engagement coordinator at Brittany Pointe Estates, I wear many hats. I am responsible for numerous things, not the least of which is planning trips for our residents. There are many components to a successful trip; each detail must be painstakingly planned. Every possibility must be considered. Every scenario, both likely and unlikely, must be taken into consideration. The most successful trips are the best planned.

Recently, I was invited to a convention in Lancaster for group leaders. This is a yearly event, a gathering of representatives from several hundred parks, museums, theaters, historical landmarks, resort areas, casinos … the list goes on and on. It is rather daunting as each has its own booth, and you are free to go from one to the other, picking up information and asking pertinent questions to determine whether this destination would be appropriate for your particular group.

I was on the fence as to whether to accept this invitation or not — it entailed being out of the office for a whole day and being overloaded by information. But, on the other hand, I knew that much of that information would be valuable. So I went as the sole representative of our organization.

I hunkered down on the bus, expecting to sit quietly, perhaps get some work done while we traveled the hour-plus journey to Lititz, Pa. But this is not what happened. I sat next to a pleasant woman and we started chatting politely, the cursory greetings and introductions. But then something interesting happened. She had a position very similar to mine in another area for a 55-plus community. We started sharing experiences and ideas. We shared trips we had taken, both successful and not so successful. We talked about events we had thought about trying. Before I knew it, I was engaged in a very beneficial conversation, pleasant and educational.

And I thought about it — it is always a positive thing to give and receive feedback, to brainstorm with your peers and to know that, though you are the only one of your position within your organization, you are by no means alone.

After two hours of amassing several tote bags full of brochures, guidebooks, business cards, samples, etc. at the convention center, we boarded the bus to head to a restaurant for lunch. At the restaurant, my new friend and I sat at a table and invited two other women to have lunch with us. It turns out that these two women had a different vantage point — they worked as volunteers at a senior center and their sole responsibility was planning trips.

Now we had four minds, all from different experiences and demographics, coming together and, once again, brainstorming. This conversation was lively and quite enlightening. I think I learned more from these three delightful women than I did from all the booths at the convention. And I was able to share my success stories with them. We came together as strangers, and we left as colleagues and friends.

It occurred to me that this is true in most walks of life. One person alone is just that — alone. An island. But if you build a bridge of friendship, suddenly you have a teammate, a cohort, a friend. Problems that seem to weigh you down suddenly become lighter when you share them with a friendly ear. Hurdles you need to overcome suddenly don’t seem so daunting. Goals you want to reach seem more attainable with the help of friends, both new and old.

Never be afraid to reach out, because the adage is true: “Two (or more) heads are better than one.”

Terry Alburger is the Life Engagement Coordinator at Brittany Pointe Estates, an Acts Retirement-Life Community in Lansdale, Pennsylvania. This column was published online by Montgomery Media on April 10, 2017.