The oldest resident of Tockwotton on the Waterfront in East Providence – perhaps Rhode Island’s oldest resident -- cut the ribbon at the grand-opening celebration of the city’s first waterfront district development Friday afternoon, Feb. 15.
Beatrice Coleman, 108, with help from U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, Rhode Island’s senior senator in Washington, did the honors. Coleman reportedly can still play a mean piano. On Friday, she just demonstrated her skill with an oversized scissor.
Coleman and Reed were flanked by a long line of dignitaries, including RI Gov . Lincoln Chafee, U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, East Providence Mayor James Briden, and Tockwotton’s own leadership -- board president Susan Miller and executive director Kevin McKay. Hundreds of people attended the celebration.
The brief ribbon-cutting followed a lengthy speaking program in Tockwotton on the Waterfront’s media room. All of the speakers emphasized that the senior-living facility, including assisted living, memory care, short-term rehabilitation and long-term care, is a model for a new era of care for seniors.
It also demonstrates what collaboration between local business and government officials at the city, state and federal level can accomplish when they were work together, many of the speakers said.
Miller described the facility as “exactly what we wanted. It gives our residents lots of choices and let’s them decide how to live their lives” in a home-like atmosphere.
Reed said the facility put 600 Rhode Islanders to work in a depressed economy and began the revitalization of the East Providence waterfront. He also described Tockwotton as “how we should and must care for our seniors. This is a model.”
Whitehouse said: “Where can I sign up?”
RI General Treasurer Gina Raimondo said Tockwotton is a “beacon of what’s possible when leaders come together.” She described the facility as an answer for someone like her, who “knows what it’s like to worry about elderly parents.”
Chafee said Tockwotton will allow seniors to continue living the way they prefer, with dignity and independence, and with some assistance when they need it. He, too, referred to the economic boost the construction gave to Rhode Island’s economy.
Briden said: “This is a great day for East Providence.” He presented a citation from the city to McKay, who choked back tears at one point when describing the care his late mother received at Tockwotton before passing on.