By ELIAS J. ATIENZA and CHRISTIAN WHITTLE
With a clear view of the mountains and anchored on the intersection of Foothill and Alamar Road, Wood Glen Hall is a sight to see.
Located at 3010 Foothill Road, Wood Glen Hall is spread over four acres of land and is home to 63 elderly individuals who have worked for decades to spend their retirement in comfort.
Wood Glen Hall prides itself as being Santa Barbara’s first retirement community – albeit as a non-profit. The facility was built by Aileen and Adrian Wood to provide “elderly men and women with an ideal, non-institutional home at minimum cost,” according to a short paper written by Wood Glen resident Kellam de Forest and provided to the News-Press by Joan Schuermann, the executive director of Wood Glen Hall.
The retirement home has 63 rooms, a large dining hall and a range of different common areas, such as a library, a game room and a computer room. Residents can get their hair done at the beauty shopevery Thursday and Saturday, read books in the large library (which also features a grand piano), relax in three courtyards, or go for a walk around the grounds on the quarter mile walking track. There’s even a meditation room.
The dining hall is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but is otherwise closed throughout the day, though residents have access to snacks and other food in different parts of the home. Ms.
Schuermann praised the quality of the food, such as having homemade soups and desserts like carrot cakes and eclairs.
“Our soups are awesome. Each one is different. I could just live off the soup!” she joked and explained how Wood Glen Hall also spends a “fortune” on food, with companies like Jordano’s
Most of the residents are from Santa Barbara itself, though some are from other parts of California. The average age is 93-94, according to Ms. Schuermann. But even though many of the residents have seen nine or more decades, they are just as lively and active as ever.
On this day, a group was doing yoga in the library, while Larrie Wanberg was working in the West Lounge.
Mr. Wanberg is the features editor for The Norwegian-American, a paper based in Shoreline, Washington and works for the Scandiavian Press.
“I usually work on my iPhone or iPad,” Mr. Wanberg explained, smiling as he glanced over to his temporary work desk which was covered with various papers, post-its and copies of Norwegian-American and Scandinavian Press.
Every day, there is a coffee social at 10 a.m. and there are other activities such as “Chair Tai Chi,” blackjack and Chinese checkers throughout the day, all organized by Holly Walling.
There are film nights throughout the week, with movies like “Yankee Doodle Dandy” and “The Miracle Worker.” In addition, there are special events such as performances from La Fiesta and singing groups like the Unity Singers. Residents can also bring company over and entertain them in the residence, many enjoying dinner in the Garden Room, which resides near the
Ms. Schuermann gave a large part of the credit to her staff for the longevity of the retirement home.
“We have a great staff…the last cook was here 50 years. And the gal in the dining room now is still there and she’s been here 33 years,” Ms. Schuermann said.
She added that “these staff wouldn’t be here long-term if they weren’t really nice to the residents. The families come in and say, your staff is so nice and they’re so accommodating..and happy to help [with anything].”
“I do know how lucky I am to have this staff,” Ms. Schuermann said.
The transition from living independently to living in retirement home can be rough.
Lillian O’Toole has been at Wood Glen for three years and says that she found the stress of moving out of her family home when her husband died overwhelming. The long-time Santa Barbara resident and mother of four found her health failing as she made arrangements to sell the house before she decided to move to Wood Glen Hall. After a few months of getting used to the move, Ms. O’Toole’s health returned.
“It really helped because I didn’t feel so lonesome anymore. It wasn’t my family but they helped a lot,” she said.
Ms. Schuermann went above and beyond making her feel at home, Ms. O’Toole said.
“I love her. She is the greatest. She’s kind and keeps her word and she’s positive. Knows what she’s doing and what she’s saying. I just think she’s great,” said Ms. O’Toole.
Ms. Schuermann says they try to make the transition as smooth as possible, which takes the pressure off people who have fears of moving into a retirement home. She told the story of how one woman was apprehensive about moving into Wood Glen, but the home allowed the woman to spend a few weeks there to see how she liked it and to decide if she would move in or not.
“If you like it, great! If you don’t, that’s okay too!” Ms. Schuermann said, explaining that people did not have to stay at Wood Glen if they did not want to.
The cost to live at Wood Glen is $3,180 a month for a “standard” room, which “includes three meals daily, snacks, weekly housekeeping and activities,” according to the business website. This can go up to $5,835 for a deluxe suite, which has two adjoining rooms. The costs continue to go up for assisted living options, such as $150 a month for laundry or shower assistance.
Ms. Schuermann is proud of the facility and what it offers.
“It’s welcoming. It’s in the Santa Barbara architectural style. The food is excellent. And the residents are really happy here.”