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Retirement homes are perhaps the last place one might expect to find graduate students living. But for some in Cleveland, that’s the best student housing arrangement they could ask for.
Daniel Parvin, 25, calls the Judson Manor, a vintage one-time luxury hotel, his home after long days of study pursuing his Ph.D. at the Cleveland Institute of Music. But in his spare time, he’s also their resident pianist.
"I inherit 100 surrogate grandparents here," he said. "And they’re really dear friends of mine."
In exchange for free housing, students living at Judson Manor give free performances at least once a month.
When it was first agreed on that the students would be living at the residence, there were no worries about the late-night loud parties that may typically be associated with college students.
"I wasn’t remotely apprehensive at all," said retirement home resident Mark Corcoran. “I thought it was a good addition to the community, and it has been without question. It has really worked very well.”
And after hearing one concert, some who haven’t touched an instrument in years felt compelled to play along with him.
"I had the privilege to play with him [Daniel]," said Janet Hall. "He was great. When I made a mistake, he didn’t jump up and walk away or say, 'Janet that’s awful.' He’s just very nice about it.”
And for other residents, just having the students around does much to lift their spirits.
"You see a young person coming toward you and want to look alive," said Paul Ingalls. "You want to look like you’re still part of it."
The residents have developed such an affinity for the students they even consider them as part of their family, referring to them as grandchildren.
Tiffany Tieu, 23, who plays the violin at Judson Manor, had an audition in Brazil, which concerned some residents about how she would get there. But in the end it turned out just fine when they found out she had friends there.
"She’s as much my family," said Laura Berick, 79, of Tieu. "I see more of her than I do some my adult grandkids."
But what could they possibly have in common? It turns out that much more than the music has brought them together.
"We found a lot of things that we like to do together," said Tiffany. "Cooking, sharing a meal, talking about art."
George Havens believes that both the students and the residents get as much as they give.
"It’s a win for us, because we have delightful young people here," Havens said.