Upon entering Sunridge Village, I found myself in a tastefully appointed living room. Framed pictures of resident activities adorn the side tables. A comfy sofa faces a welcoming fireplace. In the corner sits a grand piano. A lavish garden courtyard, complete with vine covered pergolas, a pond, and a putting green can be seen through the window. It feels like home—exactly the image Michale Kavan, marketing director for Sunridge Village Community, wants to convey.
Sunridge is a three-story rectangular building nestled in a west Omaha neighborhood. Locally owned and operated, Sunridge Village was opened in 1998 by Emilie Jonusas and is now owned and operated by her grandson Richard Anzalone and his wife Heidi. Described in its promotional brochure as “the retirement community for those you are anything but retiring,” Sunridge offers independent living apartments to seniors aged 55 and older. The residents are very active, ranging from 70s to the oldest resident at a young 101.
The monthly fee is all-inclusive, covering most of the headaches associated with home ownership. It includes all utilities (each apartment has individual heating and air conditioning controls) except for landline telephone service. A continental breakfast and a restaurant-style evening meal with a choice of entrée are also included; however, if you choose to cook, you have a full-sized kitchen and free transportation to the grocery store. Twice-monthly housekeeping and trash removal—plus all building and ground maintenance—are provided, so there’s no mowing or shoveling. Secured, climate-controlled parking is available in the basement. Elevators and stairs give access to the upper floors. Free transportation is available for appointments, shopping trips, errands, and other occasions for residents who don’t drive. It’s like living in a resort.
The population of Sunridge is around 90, which is the right size for the staff to recognize the residents by name, which promotes a family-like atmosphere. Most of the staff has been there several years providing continuity and a comfort level with all the residents. We encountered many happy, smiling faces. The friendly ladies setting up a craft fair in the multipurpose room eagerly displayed their wares. A group in the coffee shop interrupted their chat to smile and say hello. Residents met in the hallway stopped for a brief chat.
Sunridge offers its residents many opportunities for an active, healthy, and social lifestyle. Special purpose rooms are available for billiards, crafts, and lounge areas for Bridge and other games. The health and wellness room offers exercise machines and fitness classes. The library is equipped with free internet access. A theater/media room is used for social gatherings and entertainment. There is an organ in the community room used for social gatherings and entertainment. There is an organ in the community room used for a variety of events and activities, including multi-denominational faith services. In addition, Sunridge organizes trips to area attractions such as the Air and Space Museum and Omaha Botanical Gardens. They even made a trip to Walnut, Iowa for residents to go antique shopping. Transportation is always free. The residents are responsible for any entry fees or other expenses. Shopping excursions are offered regularly.
The spacious apartments at Sunridge Village range in a size from one-bedroom/one-bath to two-bedroom/two-bath units. Each apartment includes a linen closet; roomy walk-in clothes closet; and hook-ups for a stackable washer and dryer. Mini-blinds decorate the windows. Each apartment comes with a full kitchen, garbage disposal, frost-free refrigerator, dishwasher, and self-cleaning range/oven. Residents are supplied with an emergency telephone call system with remote pendants (no pull cords). All the new resident has to do is bring furniture, clothes, and favorite decorating items.
Lynn Scott’s parents were among the original residents at Sunridge. When Walter and Chris Scott needed to move from their long-time home, Lynn said, “I looked at 13 options. My first question was always, ‘Is there room for a grand piano?’ The second was, ‘Can Mother bring her cat?’ Sunridge was the only one that answered yes to both questions.”
Walter was known to be a first-class grumbler, and this didn’t change when he moved to his new home. “Sunridge put up with his grumbling…within bounds,” Lynn tells me. “Mother loved it! The kitchen staff often catered to her taste for spicy food.” Christ was not a joiner. “Mother appreciated not being forced to join activities,” Lynn continues. “She did enjoy musical entertainment and seeing the little kids come in costume, though.” When Chris became ill, Lynn hired in-home care. She asked Richard Anzalone if Chris should move. He said, “No, this is her home.”
The things Lynn appreciated most about Sunridge were the security of both the building and the garage where Walter kept his 1972 Cadillac limo, and the personal attention. Although both of her parents have now passed, Lynn cares for the cat, and the limo was sold to a new home.
Sunridge Village Retirement Community is located at 13410 Blondo St. in Omaha. For more information, call 402-496-0116. Its website is www.sunridgeomaha.com.