Walking into GranVida Senior Living and Memory Care is like stepping across continents and into an elegant European hotel—tasteful art on the wall, wainscoting, shined wooden railings up the stairs, newspapers and magazines on the tables, a stone fireplace and a friendly “hello” from the kind-eyed woman behind the front desk. The refined-yet-comfortable atmosphere offers the first clue as to why GranVida was chosen by the Carpinteria Valley Chamber of Commerce as the 2017 Large Business of the Year.

Executive Director Catherine Lee is quick to correct the terminology related to GranVida. “We are not a facility. We are a community,” she told Coastal View News in the first moment of an interview. And she’s exactly right; the word facility is cold and unwelcoming—two descriptors that don’t belong anywhere near GranVida.

The 77-apartment community located at 5464 Carpinteria Ave. currently hosts 47 residents who are cared for by 57 employees (“team members,” as Lee says). Residents range from 62 to 96. Two couples live at GranVida, as do six cats and two dogs, who reside with their human companions.

The word “community” implies connections, and GranVida is full of them. Half of the residents are from Carpinteria and have relationships with one another that span many decades. Friendly chatter rises from the clusters of residents and guests who eat meals communally in the dining areas. And in an expansive common room, residents gather for card games, book reading or to play the piano.   

Fostering that sense of community is critical to Lee. She points to the Santa Barbara City College classes in art and music that are held onsite. The arts and crafts room, she said, is now a hot spot for the latest trend among residents—jewelry making. Movie nights are held regularly, and the bocce ball court enjoys some heated competition.

The GranVida bus transports residents on regular outings. Last week, they paid a visit to the Ronald Regan Presidential Library and the Santa Barbara Zoo.

Above and beyond the amenities and activities, Lee said she is most proud of the caring and professional staff at GranVida. Every employee receives a two-day “Seniority Spirit” training which cultivates warmth and sincerity, along with anticipation and acknowledgement of needs. “We are here because we love serving seniors,” said Lee. “We do a lot of listening. We do a lot of laughing.”

Joyce Donaldson, CEO of the Carpinteria Valley Chamber of Commerce, noted that even before GranVida opened its doors in February 2017, the staff was involved in Carpinteria. “Consistently seeking opportunities to actively engage with the community, the staff has been instrumental in making their residents feel comfortably at home, while making certain they enjoy the coastal lifestyle in Carpinteria,” she said.

Lee said she was “elated” to learn that GranVida had been selected for the chamber award. She looks forward to celebrating at the Community Awards Banquet on Saturday, March 10. To learn more about the banquet, visit carpinteriachamber.org or call 684-5479.

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