Rivers of Life

Residents of Rivers of Life assisted living community in Savage sang Christmas carols for Prior Lake resident Paul Lehrer on Dec. 18. Lehrer and other locals shared holiday gifts, cards and other donations with residents to welcome them to the community.

Residents of a new assisted living facility in Savage received a warm welcome from the local community during the holiday season despite the challenges of the pandemic.

Rivers of Life, a newly-constructed memory care and enhanced assisted living facility, opened in October to the west of the County Roads 42 and 27 intersection.

The outpouring of kindness from the community began when Angela Truitt, the facility’s community development director and physical therapist, posted on the Nextdoor app seeking a few donations for the residents.

“I didn’t really expect much, I thought, ‘Oh, we’ll get some DVDs and play some movies,’” Truitt recalled.

Prior Lake resident Paul Lehrer was one of the local residents to see the posting.

“It just really caught my attention,” he said, thinking about how lonely transitions can be, especially during a pandemic.

Lehrer, a therapist, decided to take his own advice he regularly offers to clients; focus on doing something good for somebody else.

He got to work collecting puzzles, chocolates, calendars and other items for gift bags.

Meanwhile, Truitt’s post led to the facility receiving roughly 300 DVDs, multiple sewing machines and fabric.

When Lehrer posted on Nextdoor asking if any local residents would be interested in contributing greeting cards for his gift bags, he received roughly 120 cards on his doorsteps.

“We just had a lot of coming and going to our door and it was just so delightful,” he said.

The day Lehrer arrived at Rivers of Life to make his curbside delivery, staff and residents, each donning holiday sweaters, gathered around the doors.

While Lehrer stood at the windows outside, those inside broke out a performance of Christmas carols, which they’d been rehearsing.

“I was in tears,” Truitt said. “A couple residents were in tears — it was just overwhelming to have support from people they didn’t even know.”

Each resident received more than a dozen cards.

One of the songs residents sang, “Silent Night,” was a favorite of Lehrer’s mother, who died 27 years ago. The moment brought him to tears, too.

“Moral of the story — listen to those little thoughts that promote something good and act on it,” Lehrer said.