Community

In trying time of COVID-19, ‘Renegades’ persevere at local retirement community

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Courtesy of Ben Green
Gary Lipe is among the tight-knit members of “The Renegade Floor” at The Terraces at Los Altos.

A group of residents at The Terraces at Los Altos dubbed “The Renegade Floor” have cultivated an atmosphere more reminiscent of a college dorm than a senior living community. Open doors, group meals and various social activities have been a hallmark of those who live at the Pine Lane senior residence.

“The whole floor is like a large cul-de-sac,” resident Gary Lipe said. “Everyone looks out for one another. That’s what I moved into; I thought I’d gone to heaven.”

Debby Gonzales, The Terraces’ executive director, added that it’s “such a close-knit floor.”

“On many occasions, a resident puts out flowers every other week by the elevator,” she said. “Another resident bakes treats for everyone on the floor.”

Pre-pandemic, the floor would host themed parties each month, supported by a meal from culinary services. The open-door policy meant impromptu visits complemented by coffee, tea or hot chocolate were encouraged.

These days, drop-ins are still welcome – albeit with a mask – and meals are now broken into small socially distanced groups of three or four residents.
“We all do our part to keep the community safe,” Gonzales said. “We tell residents, ‘Do what you’re going to do, but please do it with a mask on and staying at least 6 feet apart.’ Everyone on the floor is very understanding and has a keen appreciation for our protocols.”

It’s a sentiment Lipe shares.

“Debby tells us what’s best for the community and us,” he said of the executive director, “and lets us use our judgment.”

When Lipe isn’t hosting drop-ins, he often joins neighbors on walks to Mitchell Park or Cuesta Park, often returning with treats from Hobee’s or Happy Donuts to share with those on his floor.

“He just brings joy into people’s lives,” said Gonzales, adding that Lipe posts jokes on his door submitted from residents throughout the campus. “His main goal in life is to make people laugh.”

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