Atlantic Shores Retirement Community in Virginia Beach, Virginia has been certified as the first official “Pearl Neighborhood” in the South Hampton Roads area. Established by the Lynnhaven River NOW partnership, this special designation is given to residential communities that care about the environment, and create programs that help restore and protect Virginia Beach waterways.
Since 2002, Lynnhaven River NOW’s committed group of 8,000 local citizens has fostered public/private partnerships to reduce pollution along the Lynnhaven River. In addition to the Pearl Neighborhood program, the organization also administers Pearl Homes, Pearl Schools and Pearl Faith programs.
With its new designation, Atlantic Shores residents and staff are taking steps to conserve, re-use and recycle natural resources. The community’s first project is a system of rain barrels, which convert roof run-off into a water source used to irrigate courtyard gardens in Atlantic Shores’ Harborway Assisted Living, and Seaside Health Center facilities.
More than 30 percent of Atlantic Shores residents have committed to make their residence a Pearl Home — pledging to live responsibly to help protect natural resources. Within their homes, they are installing programmable thermostats, sealing ductwork, using biodegradable products and reusable grocery bags, and switching to reusable water bottles.
Outside their homes, they are “scooping the poop,” replacing turf grass with mulched beds and native plants, reducing pesticides and fertilizers, and installing personal rain barrels and rain gardens to reduce storm water runoff.
Resident also come together to plant and tend 65 garden plots within Atlantic Shores’ Victory Garden – – with produce shared with the community at large.
The process of certification began in January 2018 with the support and direction of the Atlantic Shores Green Committee — a group of residents dedicated to making a positive impact on the local environment. After completing a comprehensive educational program, a series of initiatives were created for the community, followed by commitments by residents and staff to support them. The program was officially launched on May 31, with a celebration on the Atlantic Shores campus.
According to Atlantic Shores Green Committee spokeswoman Donna Hudgins, “We are thrilled to be the first retirement community in the area chosen for this important program. We’re passionate and committed, both as a group and as individuals, to do what we can to preserve our planet. This will only become more important as time goes on, so we know this legacy will be carried on by future Atlantic Shores residents.”
Beyond the community initiatives, many residents are taking on additional roles, including Ashby and Yvette Franklin, who track the health of Redwing Lake and ponds within Atlantic Shores as citizen scientists with the Lynnhaven River NOW water quality monitoring program.
According to Mr. Franklin, “We are blessed to live on 100 beautiful acres here at Atlantic Shores. It is our responsibility to keep it, and the surrounding precious waters as pristine as we can. We also agree that this work must be done now to preserve these habitats for future generations.”
Moving forward, Atlantic Shores will share their mission, and spread the word on the Pearl Program by hosting educational activities for students of all ages, and sponsoring Service Day events pairing local residents with area environmental organizations.