Kissing Tree Good Neighbors - Kissing Tree
Apr 29th, 2020

Kissing Tree Good Neighbors

We talk a lot about the wonderful amenities here at Kissing Tree, but by far the most cherished one is our enthusiastic, caring community. Last week, in our interview with Kissing Tree Lifestyle Director Kevin Wilson, he told us how there hasn’t been a need to start a “Sunshine Club” because our residents just naturally check in on each other and provide support in times of hardship. This week, we wanted to highlight some of our good neighbors and shine a light on the ways KTers are staying busy and lifting each other up right now.

Mask-Maker Extraordinaire Michele Zaleski

After making and donating washable cotton face masks to Jo-Ann for healthcare workers, Kissing Tree resident Michele Zaleski put a box of her handmade masks on her lawn to share with her KT neighbors who might need a face covering. Her first batch was quickly claimed, but Michele has been putting out more masks as she’s able to make them!

The Paplanus/Brookshier Safe-Distance Social Hour

Since moving to Kissing Tree in November of 2019, Sue and Gene Paplanus have already met some of their fellow residents, but these strange circumstances have cemented those neighborly bonds! Since social distancing started, Sue and Gene began to join their next door neighbors Kyle and Nina Brookshier out on the sidewalk in front of their homes each evening at 7pm. Weather permitting, the couples place their lawn chairs about 10 feet apart for an informal happy hour and daily get-together. Over the past few weeks, the gathering has become a community touch stone, with other neighbors saying hello from a safe distance, people waving from golf carts, and dog walkers stopping by for a daily chat.

Sue tells us, “Anyone who can come by and is welcome to join in! We laugh a lot, which is therapeutic, but we’ve also become so much better acquainted with each other. I think we all feel a common bond with this virus, and this social time helps remind us that we’re not alone. We’re the KT family who can still interact with each other face-to-face, during these days of quarantine.”

When they’re not sitting in the yard, Sue and Gene like to spend their time reading, doing yardwork, binge-watching good television shows, and having video chats with family. If you’re around in the evenings, walk on over to Flying Orchid Dr and say hello!

Big Steppers Susan & Joe Nicola

The fitness center might be closed, but that hasn’t stopped Sue and Joe Nicola from getting in their daily workouts. Accompanied by their 2.5-year-old boxer puppy Colt, the couple walks about three miles each morning and three more in the afternoon. Some days, they go even farther!

And Susan and Joe have encouraged other Kissing Tree residents to get moving—recently, Susan started a neighborhood step challenge to get the residents of Driskill, Fair Park, Lomita, and Fannin out walking. On April 13, the first day of the challenge, the neighborhood walkers had a combined total of more than 1 MILLION steps!

When they’re not walking, the Nicolas enjoy reading and practicing Pickleball using a portable net. They also love movies—Susan’s favorite movie is The Blind Side, while Joe’s favorite is Raiders of the Lost Ark. To join in the step challenge, check out the KT Pioneers Facebook page and find a team leader in your area.

Smiling Dog Walker Darlene Dickerson

If you’ve seen a cheerful blonde walking two cute puppies, you’ve already encountered Darlene Dickerson. With Bella Mae, a 23-month-old Westie, and Ginger Mae, a 21-month-old Mini Golden Doodle, Darlene has her hands (and her feet) full. Darlene takes her fur babies on two walks each day, often covering about 3 miles!

When she’s not out walking, Darlene has been cooking up a storm, working with her oldest granddaughter, Madison, on a small family cookbook of their favorite recipes. She’s also been part of the sewing group that has been making masks for healthcare workers. Darlene has recently gotten hooked on the Netflix show Ozark and loves the movie The Holiday. If you see Darlene out walking Bella Mae and Ginger Mae, be sure to introduce yourself and tell her hi!

Porch Troubadour Mark Burroughs

While some people might see this quarantine time as a burden, Kissing Tree resident Mark Burroughs just sees more time to play guitar. If you walk past Mark and Debbie Burrough’s house on Dancing Oak Ln, there’s a good chance Mark will be strumming on the porch, giving you a chance to enjoy his original and cover songs. Mark has also been serenading us from Facebook livestreams—keep an eye on the Kissing Tree Tribe Community page for updates about future performances.

When they’re not playing music, Mark and Debbie love watching movies; recently, they’ve been watching all of the Harry Potter movies in order. Their sweet kitty Annabel requires frequent visits to the back porch, and keeps both of them running with her demands for treats during the day. Debbie stays busy keeping up with her Mary Kay customers virtually, and both Mark and Debbie have been walking daily and working on their projects list.

We’re so proud of all the ways our awesome community sticks together and keeps going, even when things are weird! If you know of a good neighbor you think we should highlight, please reach out via email at or ping us on Facebook. There’s nothing that’s more rewarding than sharing the happy stories and good deeds that take place daily here at the greatest active-adult community in Texas—or the world!

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