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Sunrise Seniors Welcome Visitors For Open House

Barbara Saenz is an official Sunrise “Ambassador.” Her duties include welcoming new residents and helping them adjust to their new living environments, and, of course, inviting visitors in to see her professionally decorated corner apartment when they tour the facility.

Barbara Saenz is an official Sunrise “Ambassador.” Her duties include welcoming new residents and helping them adjust to their new living environments, and, of course, inviting visitors in to see her professionally decorated corner apartment when they tour the facility. Photos by Andrea Worker

Sunrise Senior Living’s Director of Sales Valerie Parker, and Sales Assistant Shelley Jennings are always pleased to show off

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Mary Naylor is looking forward to her 103rd birthday. She moved into Sunrise with her husband Bill nine years ago, after watching the facility being built. A former Navy Civil Service employee, friends joke that Mary ‘had to leave the Navy to get herself a sailor (Saylor).’ Bill passed away in 2006, but Mary finds comfort with her Sunrise friends and family, as well as stepson Jim who comes to escort her to the dinner table each evening.

the facility at Fair Oaks on Joseph Siewick Drive in Fairfax. It doesn’t require a special occasion, like last week’s nationwide

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Sunrise resident Carol Lanzit enjoys craft work with Asst. Activities Coordinator Frank Jones. There was so much giggling going on at their table, it’s hard to tell what they were actually working on. While they “worked” they also enjoyed a live musical performance taking place in the main floor lounge beside them.

Open House campaign, when model rooms were on display and tours were offered of the housing complex and the services, activities and amenities available to the residents. “This is really a wonderful place,” said Jennings. “I enjoy showing it to people, and I really enjoy introducing folks to our amazing residents.” While Parker and Jennings may be the best at highlighting what’s on offer at their Sunrise location, and explaining just how things work, both are quick to let visitors know who the true experts are, and who really is best at giving potential residents and their families the real scoop on the Sunrise experience. “That would be our residents,” said Parker. “Especially our ‘Ambassadors.’”

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Sung Yee has only good things to say about his residency at Sunrise. Adopted from a Fairfax County Animal Shelter, this lucky pup never has to beg for attention. “He has a bed in probably half of the apartments here,” laughed Director of Sales Valerie Parker, “including one in my office!”

THE “AMBASSADORS” are part of a program established by Parker to help new residents adjust to their new home by

having a matched resident-mentor. “It’s a win-win,” she added. “Our current residents love helping the newbies and those joining us have someone to help them navigate and get settled, and adjust to living in a more communal setting.” The Ambassadors are also happy to show off their homes and talk about life at Sunrise at Fair Oaks on Joseph Siewick Drive in Fairfax—which by all accounts, is pretty busy for most of the residents. It was difficult to find someone “at home” during the Open House Tour. The hair salon was filled to capacity. The physical therapy room was in use. Just off the lobby, a craft session was keeping a number of residents engaged. There were several people just coming in from a walk around the grounds. A reading room was well occupied, and there was a full house enjoying a sing-along session with a visiting performer. The posted schedule of events and activities available, including day trips and outings, was almost overwhelming.

Eventually an Ambassador was tracked down and resident Barbara Saenz graciously allowed a visit to her professionally decorated studio, with smiles and some tales of daily life at Sunrise. Calvin Ettel also welcomed visitors to take a look into his world, in a suite that bears the mementos of a lifetime of service in the Air Force in honor of his past, but containing all the modern conveniences like the Keurig machine for that morning cup of coffee or late afternoon tea. The rooms and suites are as individualized as their occupants. While the majority of the apartments are designed for single occupants, there are accommodations for companion living, where two residents can share a suite, and there are even couples who enjoy the Sunrise lifestyle together.

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Calvin Ettel had to show off his digs in a bit of a hurry—he was meeting friends for the musical performance in the main floor lounge. Ettel is an Air Force veteran and his living quarters showcase some of his aviation achievements.

THE OPEN HOUSE included information about the levels of services available, from Independent Living options, Assisted Living care, and more intensive Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitative services. There is a separate, specially designed “Reminiscence Neighborhood” to meet the special needs of those with memory loss issues. They even have a short-term stay option, when caregivers need a brief respite, or will be away.

There’s plenty of information about the Sunrise Senior Living experience available on line at SunriseSeniorLiving.com, or just make an appointment and talk with the seniors who live the experience every day.