If you are wondering who is behind the many interesting speakers and discussion groups here at Cedar Crest, it is Natalie Upp. A bundle of energy at 83 years old, Natalie works tirelessly to recruit interesting people to speak on a variety of subjects.
Natalie moved to Cedar Crest about two years ago and quickly got involved in the many activities Cedar Crest offers. “I thought about getting an apartment (outside of Cedar Crest) but that would have been the dumbest thing because I wouldn’t know anybody. Here I know everybody. It’s a very friendly place and I got acquainted very fast. It didn’t take long to get involved. I was asked to be on the council; I didn’t think I would get voted in because I hadn’t been here long, but I did! As a result of that, I’m on the Learning Opportunities Committee, which is really great. My responsibility is to get speakers.”
Besides polling residents to see if anyone has an idea for a speaker or program, Natalie does her own research. Already for her fall lineup, she has been working with the University of Wisconsin, which has presented its challenges in making connections because she doesn’t have a computer or do email. Because she is still driving, she often gets into Janesville and finds interesting individuals on her own. One example was the owner of the Mocha Moment Coffee Shop, who provided an inspiring story of his family business and faith in God. “That is a wonderful place to visit and have coffee,” she said.
Natalie also is on the social committee and a volunteer at the health center. “I like reaching out to others, working one-on-one with them,” she said. “It’s very rewarding.” She also is an avid gardener and is anxious to get working on her 16 x15 foot plot that she can view from her balcony.
Many residents know Natalie because she is often accompanied by her canine companion, a Lhasa apso named Bailey. “Bailey was a means of introduction,” she said. “People would come up and talk to him and I began receiving invitations to the many happenings here. There is a lot to do here if you want to do it. There is something going on every day and the people here are so wonderful.”
Natalie lived in the Quad Cities area for nearly 50 years. When her children were young, she devoted herself to homemaking and taking care of them. When they entered junior high, she became employed by Sears, becoming the store’s credit manager and managing a hundred people. “When credit became computerized, that department went away, but I remained on staff in the store and trained other associates,” she said.
When it came time to downsize, she moved to Cedar Crest to be closer to her daughter who is in the Beloit area. They frequently enjoy lunches and shopping trips together. Besides her daughter, she has two sons, one in San Clemente and one in Texarkana. She has six grandchildren and six great grandchildren. “I have a wonderful family,” she said. “I’m very blessed.”