Lillie Rivers lives at New Community Commons Senior and is known by her active community involvement.
Lillie Rivers lives at New Community Commons Senior and is known by her active community involvement.

New Community senior Lillie Rivers wears many different hats.

At New Community Commons Senior, where Rivers has lived since 2005, she’s formally known as captain of the third floor, secretary of the social club fondly known as “Oldie But Goodie,” and informally serves as a go-to person whenever help is needed. Within the wider New Community network, Rivers also serves on the senior advisory council as the “sunshine,” which means that her role is to visit the sick and homebound.

“She’s very active. She’s willing to help no matter when you need her,” Care Coordinator Valerie White said.

Outside New Community, Rivers has also made her mark.

At Mount Olive Baptist Church in East Orange, Rivers supports the clergy as a pastor’s aide, organizing fundraisers, keeping track of birthdays and anniversaries and generally tending to the pastor’s needs for Sunday service. She’s a longtime member of the city’s senior fashion show. Recently, she was became the newly elected District 20 leader.

And despite having a schedule that’s filled to the brim, Rivers somehow still finds time to cook dinner for a group of 30-plus people for a mid-week Bible study.

But Rivers would have it no other way. In fact, she wants to add another item to her schedule. She says she would love to have meetings with all new residents of Commons Senior when they first move in to help them get acquainted.

“I like to do things that involve people,” she said.

For Rivers, it’s all about building up her community. Meeting new residents, for instance, would help the current building’s residents to promote positive interactions.

That’s the type of environment that Rivers hopes to cultivate among her fellow residents at Commons Senior.

“I give it the way I want to receive it,” Rivers, 72, said. “They give me a lot of respect and I do the same.”

Born in South Carolina, Rivers relocated to New York in 1962 before settling in New Jersey a few years later. In her free time, Rivers said she enjoys watching court shows and game shows, going to the casino occasionally and playing a few hands of solitaire before bedtime.

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