Most people think all community management involves is financial management, urban planning, and facilities maintenance, but there’s more to it than that. Danielle Levesque’s job is to think differently and outside the box to support the well-being of her residents and to help them thrive. That’s how she and residents of Del Webb The Woodlands, an active retirement community association in The Woodlands, Texas, ended up on a world tour in her family’s homeland of Croatia.

During the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, Levesque started a virtual world tour via a daily email campaigns. “Each week, we visited a new country, and I sent out emails with interesting information about the history, language, famous people from the country, cultural information, and even recipes,” Levesque says. She also asked residents to share pictures and trip memories if they had visited that country, providing them with the opportunity to share fun memories with each other. Upon presenting Croatia in the virtual tour, residents saw Levesque’s personal pictures from past trips and asked if they could go with her the next time she visited.

In April 2021, Levesque got in touch with Sarah Bennett from Prelude Tours, and the two planned a trip to Alaska for the residents. While in Alaska, they discussed organizing a separate adventure to Croatia. After months of narrowing down the activities, they put together a trip itinerary. “I wanted the trip to be more than just the popular destinations; I wanted it to have a lot of culture, as well as beautiful scenery,” says Levesque.

Many community residents had met Levesque’s father at Beatles tribute concerts in 2017 and 2018, and everyone he talked to became instant friends with him, Levesque recalls. “My father invited them all to come to Croatia and always said his country was the most beautiful, so planning this trip was a way for me to carry on his legacy after his passing in 2019,” she says.

“Danielle is very giving of her time and truly embodies the definition of teamwork,” says Otis Chandler, CMCA, AMS, manager at CCMC-TX. “Her attention to planning events down to the smallest details to ensure all have a fun time is just one of the qualities that separates her from others.”

Taking the world tour to Croatia, Danielle arranged for homeowners to be hosted at her family’s restaurant. It was there that residents experienced the sights, sounds, food, music, and culture of the country.

“I knew my dad was proud of his house and his hometown of Rogoznica, so I made special arrangements with Sarah that we would take a bus to our hometown, and I was able to get my aunt’s restaurant to host us for a special dinner,” says Levesque, who also arranged to have local guitar and accordion players come to sing and play music.

The next day, the group visited a place called Etnoland, a historical and cultural site which is located next to one of Levesque’s family farms. “While visiting Etnoland, our residents got to travel back in time and experience what life was like in Croatia in the early 1900s and even when my dad was growing up in the 1940s and ’50s,” Levesque says.

“Everyone had a ball,” Chandler says. “Folks can’t wait to go back and are always sharing their memories of the trip with everyone. I was so impressed with how much of herself Danielle committed to this trip. She shared her time, her family, and her country, as she led multiple excursions throughout her homeland.”

  • Hazel Siff

    Hazel Siff is associate editor at CAI. She graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara's communication department and worked as a student journalist at both UC Santa Barbara and Santa Monica College. Hazel has worked in print media, on multiple podcasts, and on a YouTube show. Originally from Western Massachusetts, she has spent the last several years living in Southern California.

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