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February 16, 2022

Sorority Sisters

The Bonds of Friendship Continue at The Covington

Note: you may have seen this article in South County, Newport Mesa or Sorbet magazines. In case you missed it, we want to share this great story with you.

Friendship is special and precious. It feeds our soul, comforts our spirit, and inspires our intellect. As one of life’s great joys, good friendships should be celebrated – especially ones that last a lifetime.

For Pat Beery and Shirley Forden, their friendship spans 70 years, and it all started on the campus of UCSB as members of Sigma Kappa, one of the oldest sororities in the country.

In the 1950s, UCSB was known as Santa Barbara College of the University of California. During the post-war years, universities expanded access to education, especially for women. In those days, Pat says women had fewer choices. “An education gave us opportunity and independence.” For Shirley, the sorority was a vital part of her experience. “We supported each other as we chased our dreams.”

Sigma Kappa offered an important social network for members, many of whom were away from home for the first time. “We worked hard but we also had fun,” laughs Shirley. They have fond memories of their time on campus and enjoyed going to dances together. Occasionally, Pat would invite her brother along as an escort. “Of course, he loved it. I introduced him to his future wife, another one of my sorority sisters.”

Both women felt fortunate to be able to continue their education and were determined to make the most of the opportunity. Shirley graduated as an Art Major in 1955 and taught art in middle school. Pat graduated in 1956 with a degree in Early Childhood Education and became an elementary school teacher.

They are proud of their accomplishments and proud to know their example inspired future generations of women in their families. Pat’s daughter had a lengthy career as a teacher in the California public school system and Shirley’s granddaughter has recently taken up a teaching post in New York City.

Over the years, they stayed in touch socially and through the Sigma Kappa alumni association where they helped to raise money for charity. “We organized an annual Boutique Fair,” says Shirley, “it was a going concern.” The Fair offered handmade items from local artisans and craftspeople and Pat says that the focus on the community was a key to its success. “People loved it.”

The bonds of sorority sisterhood remained strong through the years and paid dividends again later in life. For each of them, the time came to plan their next move. Pat said once she stopped driving, she felt isolated in her own home. For Shirley, her family was anxious about her daily safety as she aged. “They we’re constantly wanting to check on me.”

The women had a mutual sorority sister who lived at The Covington and occasionally they would visit. “We would dine together in the restaurant, and I was always so impressed by the delicious food,” Pat says.

The Culinary teams at all ECS Communities deliver inspired dining for the discerning palate.

The quality of dining and accommodations, the vibrant lifestyle and continuum of care were all important factors in the eventual decision to make The Covington their home. Having friends already living on campus made the transition that much easier. “It almost feels like we are back at our sorority house,” Shirley says, “but with more comfortable beds!”

Since moving in, the women say they now feel much more at ease and relish the active, social opportunities that The Covington provides. “There is so much to do here,” says Pat. For Shirley, the variety of on-site facilities and The Covington’s Creative Living philosophy of life-long learning, were also important considerations. “I so appreciate being able to continue to paint and make pottery.”

Pat and Shirley say they love the lush garden settings at The Covington

Pat, who moved in last year, has since met another long-time friend already living at The Covington. “I had not seen her in years. It has been so wonderful to reconnect and catch up. I know I am not the only person who has had this experience.”

For Pat and Shirley, the choice, creativity, confidence, and connection they enjoy at The Covington have been life changing. “I eat better, sleep better, and live better,” says Pat. “And we’re having more fun than ever,” says Shirley.


About Us

The Covington is a member of the ECS family of campuses for active seniors. Our relaxed, maintenance-free, resort-style accommodations offer continuing care, retirement community living in a secure, gated neighborhood in Aliso Viejo. Founded on four commitments – choice, creativity, confidence, and connection – ECS has been at the forefront of senior living in Southern California since 1923. Contact us today to learn more.

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