Viamonte is a community in the truest sense, attracting an inclusive and vibrant population of friends and neighbors who share an appreciation for living well and a passion for doing good. In the profiles that follow, you will meet a sampling of those who have already chosen to make Viamonte their future home and, through their stories and portraits, enjoy a preview of retirement living in Walnut Creek.
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At Viamonte, Your Future is Waiting for You.
“One of the things I like most about Walnut Creek is the undeveloped open space set aside by the City,” Judy says. “I’ve taken many walks and done lots of hiking.” Years ago, a friend introduced her to the East Bay Regional Park District hiking program, and Judy and her friend had fun hiking all around the East Bay. Another highlight of living in Walnut Creek was Judy’s seven-year stint working for the City of Walnut Creek. Though she has had a number of different jobs over the years, her ‘semi-retirement’ job at City Hall was one of her favorites. She recalls it being a great place to work with a nice atmosphere, wonderful people, and a place she still visits occasionally. “All in all, I love Walnut Creek, and I prefer to stay here,” she says.
In recent years, Judy has also thought deeply about what kind of living environment she desires during her retirement. Her own parents had set a good example of thoughtful preparedness. Not wanting to burden their children with caregiving responsibilities, they moved into a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) in Washington State. They wanted to make sure they were looked after, and that their children didn’t have to do it alone. “It was a great place to live,” recalls Judy, “It was the sort of place where they had a lot of friends and activities and didn’t have to worry about the upkeep of a home.”
So, when Judy began her own retirement living search for a CCRC close to home, she was very disappointed when she learned that there wasn’t one in all of Contra Costa County. While there were some lovely Independent Living and Assisted Living communities, there was no community offering a continuum of care on one campus. And the CCRC concept was very appealing to Judy—especially since she had no family nearby. One option was to return to Washington and live in the community in which her parents had lived, but Walnut Creek was her home now.
Then, the tide turned. Judy began to hear the early rumblings from friends at City Hall that there was indeed a CCRC in the plans. “When I heard about Viamonte, I was very excited,” she says. “Not only could I stay in Northern California, but I could stay right here in Walnut Creek itself. I got involved right away.” Judy learned more at every opportunity, attending get-togethers and community meetings.
Aside from its ideal location, Judy has been very pleased with the Viamonte staff as well as with the owner/operator, Sequoia Living. “There is a comfort in knowing that this is not the first senior community they have been involved with,” says Judy. Founded in 1958, Sequoia Living is a nonprofit organization that owns and operates three other well-established CCRCs and manages three affordable housing communities and a manufactured housing development for people ages 55 and older.
When it comes to the Viamonte lifestyle, Judy is most excited about the convenience of not having to maintain a home, the community activities and group programs available, the opportunities to meet new people and socialize, and the independence she will be afforded allowing her to travel and visit friends. The exercise classes and swimming pool are also perks.
Most important to Judy, Viamonte will allow her to remain in the community that she loves so much. “Walnut Creek is a lovely place. It’s centrally located, just the right size, and a lot of fine people live here.”
RAY AND VICTORIA GREENLEAF
Originally from San Francisco, Ray is a native of the Bay Area. With a political science degree from the University of California, Berkeley, he spent the 1960s taking part in the colorful activism Berkeley became famous for at the time. “From free speech marches to civil rights events, I got to experience being on the front lines of social change,” Ray recalls. Later, he earned a degree in psychotherapy from John F. Kennedy University (JFKU), which prepared him for the next chapter of his life. In 1993, he became a Professor and Chair of Transpersonal Counseling at JFKU, a position he held until his recent retirement in 2015.
Victoria found her way to the San Francisco Bay Area after growing up in New York City. With undergraduate and graduate degrees in French, her first career was as a French language teacher. Deciding later that she needed “something a little more grounded,” Victoria earned an MBA from Golden Gate University and went to work in the financial industry. Eventually, she made yet another major career pivot, this time earning a graduate degree in psychotherapy and putting her skills to work at the nonprofit Regional Center of the East Bay (RCEB), where she provided services for adults with developmental and learning disabilities.
As fate would have it, it was at JFKU that Ray and Victoria first crossed paths. Today, the happily married couple shares a love for traveling, gardening and jazz. They are both members of the nonprofit organization SF JAZZ, where they work to cultivate appreciation for jazz in the Bay Area, and Ray volunteers at the California Jazz Conservatory in Berkeley.
Having balanced well-rounded educations, careers, and volunteer work, Ray and Victoria have earned their retirement. Through personal experience with family members, they are no strangers to the Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) lifestyle. “We have often felt that, when the time is right, the CCRC model is right for us,” says Victoria. They noticed that their family members who moved to a CCRC lived healthier, more active lives—something that is a priority for the couple. Likewise, Victoria and Ray have both observed through their professional work the negative effects that isolation can have on people as they age. “Living in a CCRC provides opportunities for us to stay curious, to continue growing, and to have fun through a variety of programs and social activities,” says Victoria. She and Ray also want to have agency in their lives—control over the decisions about when and where to move. Making the decision now to embrace independent living has maximized their options. Not least, Ray cherishes the freedom that comes with the CCRC lifestyle. “As we’ve had more time to travel and enjoy being away from home, the house has become more of a burden,” he says. “We are looking forward, especially now, to the freedom of being able to do whatever we want without the worry about the yard and the house.”
Before signing on the dotted line, however, the Greenleafs did their homework. They looked at a number of first-class residences in the area, but there was something very special about Viamonte—something that set it apart. And thanks to the Viamonte staff, Ray and Victoria have enjoyed the selection process tremendously. “Staci and her crew have been helpful and gracious and have been there every step of the way, making this transition easy,” says Victoria. “And the special mixers have given us a chance to mingle with our future neighbors—people with whom we have much in common and already enjoy being around. We look forward to moving in.” The couple is also impressed by the clean slate that comes with new construction, the modern architecture and design, amenities such as the indoor/outdoor pool and fitness center, and the community’s efforts to keep residents at the forefront of technology.
“Viamonte represents a new paradigm on the West Coast,” says Ray. “We’re seizing the opportunity now so we don’t miss the chance to be part of this state-of-the-art community. It will be a wonderful addition to Walnut Creek—the city we have already called home for decades.”
MIKE AND GLORIA CABRAL
Gloria, an avid cook, enjoyed tasting her way across the country. While she had an 18-year career in retail—starting out as a sales manager at Macy’s in the early 70s, and later becoming a manager and buyer for a specialty linen store—Gloria’s true passion is for all things food. As the Cabrals moved around, she loved sampling and learning about the various regions’ cuisines. “We moved to such different areas of the county,” Gloria recalls. “Sometimes we were on the coast, and other times, we were landlocked. We got to experience different cultures. I loved the food in New England and living in Boston, but I don’t miss shoveling driveways,” she continues.
After 22 years away from their native California, Mike and Gloria were ready to return in 2001. Mike retired five years ago from Air Products and Chemical, Inc., and the Cabrals currently live in the Crystyl Ranch neighborhood in Concord, just six miles down the road from Walnut Creek. Gloria has served as the co-president of the Walnut Creek Area Neighbors and Newcomers Club for two years. “We knew that we always wanted to retire here to the Bay Area. This is home,” says Gloria.
The fertile East Bay is really the perfect backdrop for this epicurean couple. While Gloria creates gourmet menus from the region’s abundant farm-to-table offerings, Mike collects—and makes his own—wine. Upon retiring, he attended the UC Davis Winemaking Certificate Program and interned at some of Sonoma and Napa Valley wine country’s top wineries during crush. He’s now making his own Cabernet and Merlot at a custom crush facility in Napa. Meanwhile, Gloria is the chair of a women’s foodie club that gathers for a monthly luncheon based on a regionally or seasonally themed menu. And while Mike, also an enthusiastic golfer, takes advantage of the wine country’s rolling fairways, Gloria hikes and walks often. “I love the outdoors,” she says. “We are so fortunate to live in such a beautiful area.”
When the Cabrals heard about Viamonte at Walnut Creek, they knew they were interested. First, the location is a big factor, providing an opportunity for them to stay put within the community they already call home. Secondly, the continuum of care structure appeals to them. “We have both experienced what it is like to be caregivers for our parents, and we are very realistic about how hard it can be—the older you are—to move out of your home,” explains Gloria. “At Viamonte, we know—that should the need arise—we can get the help that we need right where we are.”
And the Viamonte staff has also been a consideration. “We already knew Suzette and we trust her,” Gloria says. “When I found out she was a part of this, it was just a really good feeling. I trust her business sense and integrity, and she wouldn’t be involved in anything that she didn’t think was really good.”
Not least, Mike and Gloria value the opportunity for continued social growth at Viamonte. “As we age,” says Gloria, “staying socially connected with people is huge. It’s comforting to know that neither one of us will ever be alone.” With Viamonte, the Cabrals have found a place where they can live at the heart of that social connection—a community within their community.