Exactly one week before its official opening, Sunrise of Pleasanton welcomed 65 residents evacuated from Sunrise Villa Sonoma.
"In the early morning of Monday, October 9, team members came around to wake us," said Al Lange, a resident of the senior living community in Sonoma. "We met in the lobby to hear the news about the wildfires but had no idea how bad it was. Later that morning, we were told about the plan to evacuate."
Although Sunrise Villa Sonoma was not in a mandatory evacuation area, smoke was visible in the distance and news reports noted the fire's unpredictability.
"Residents’ safety and comfort are always our top priority, so we decided to evacuate out of an abundance of caution and for their well-being, especially those with breathing issues," said Colleen Kabeary, executive director of Sunrise Villa Sonoma. "I was so thankful to have regional Sunrise leadership support and team members from all over the state willing to help. Sunrise’s commitment to seniors is unparalleled."
Though still readying for Sunrise of Pleasanton's October 16 opening, staff worked to maintain a sense of normalcy for the Sonoma seniors by organizing familiar activities including games, entertainment and happy hour.
"We left with mostly the clothes on our backs, and team members were able to gather our medications, wheelchairs, walkers and other essentials," Lange said. "I remember driving through Highway 37 and being worried about having to split up from each other or housed in a gymnasium or other shelter. All I could think about were my friends and the staff. Thanks to the amazing coordination and care by Sunrise, we were all able to go stay together at Sunrise of Pleasanton."
Sunrise Senior Living, headquartered in Virginia, is an American operator of 315 facilities throughout the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Sunrise provides services that include independent and assisted living, care for individuals with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of memory loss, and nursing and rehabilitative care.
Sunrise of Pleasanton is the 19th Sunrise community in the Bay Area. The 83-unit facility, currently home to around 40 seniors, is located at 5700 Pleasant Hill Drive, near the intersection of Stoneridge Drive and Foothill Road.
"This state-of-the-art community helps meet current and future demand for senior care, as families explore options to continue to age in place within the geographic areas and charming neighborhoods of which they are familiar,” said Sunrise CEO Chris Winkle. "We are committed to providing the Sunrise experience of tailored care and programming, in addition to becoming part of the fabric that is the Tri-Valley community."
The evacuated residents of Sunrise Villa Sonoma stayed until October 27.
"Even though it first felt as if we were in a strange new home, we had so much of what we had in Sonoma. We had our usual caregivers, and our own dining team came to provide the wonderful meals we are used to," Lange said. "Sunrise made it easy for us, and even though we were anxious to get home, everyone worked together to make the most it. If it hadn’t been for the network presence of Sunrise communities in the area, I don’t know where we would have gone."
Added Sunrise Vice President of Operation Kathleen McCarron, "We are grateful all residents and team members remained safe during the wildfires. We were able to tap into our existing resources and market presence in the Bay Area so that our residents could continue to receive care from the comfort of another Sunrise community, with a similar level of care and service. I thank our team members for their tireless efforts, personal sacrifices and the ability to handle this situation with such grace."
To learn more, visit SunriseSeniorLiving.com, or call (925) 350-6390.