by Rocio Villalobos
Teresa Stoffel may have retired 10 years ago, but she is no less busy now than she was then. Stoffel and her husband are living their dream, traveling around the country as full-time RV inhabitants. For the last 12 winter seasons, the Missourian couple has come down to Mission’s Eldorado Acres RV Park, discovering the area based on their son-in-law’s recommendation.
Since COVID-19 kept them from traveling too far this summer, Stoffel spent her time helping manage local entertainers and working to bridge the communication divide between performers and park activity directors.
“There’s one side and then the other side, and they don’t always know how to work together,” she said. “Entertainers are creative people. They just kick back and enjoy life.”
Stoffel said her goal with this is to help these groups partner more effectively. And though she does not have a marketing background, Stoffel has had proven results, leading more people to reach out for her assistance. Now, Stoffel is helping coordinate monthly Zoom meetings for both parties to have an open line of communication and to brainstorm ways to improve park residents’ experience.
Stoffel is urging activity directors “just to talk about being positive about this season because we know there won’t be as many people down with the border closed,” she said. “Everyone keeps saying we’re all in this together, and it’s true.”
Meetings cover how to sanitize equipment and common areas to keep everyone safe and healthy and include brainstorming ideas about how entertainers can attract a wider audience.
“People 50-something are here, and everyone seems to be ignoring that,” she said. “I'm coming from a different era. They’re all in their 70s and 80s and aren’t thinking about what we can do to attract younger people.”
Coordinating these meetings, working directly with entertainers and managing several Winter-Texan Facebook groups keeps her busy--and she does it without pay. Her payment comes in a different form. Stoffel has an autoimmune disease requiring weekly chemotherapy treatments, and she said helping others brings her joy.
“For me, it takes the focus off being ill because I have something else to focus on,” she said. “At that point, I start to feel better. It’s just a healthy thing, and as long as I can, I’ll continue to do it.”