Park Plaza residents enjoy red-carpet treatment in their golden years

Art, music, meals, sports and more keep Park Plaza’s residents active, social and happy.

Residents of Park Plaza participate in a singalong around the facility’s piano. From left: Rose Walters, Pat Edinger, Fred Edinger, Frank Besenhofer, Joan Besenhofer, Volus McEachern, Jane Butler (seated at piano), Neola Mace Hare and Gordon Hare.

Residents of Park Plaza participate in a singalong around the facility’s piano. From left: Rose Walters, Pat Edinger, Fred Edinger, Frank Besenhofer, Joan Besenhofer, Volus McEachern, Jane Butler (seated at piano), Neola Mace Hare and Gordon Hare. Photo by Donna Lasater.

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WALLA WALLA — Grady and Gerry Rose manage Park Plaza Independent Senior Living Community. They love to socialize and create activities that benefit everyone involved.

Gerry has organized a choir; artistic residents have an ongoing exhibit of their work; and other activities are available to enjoy.

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Gerry Rose

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Grady Rose

Grady and Gerry focus on friendliness and inspiration for residents and employees.

“We consider ourselves the residents’ kids. We treat them like we would treat our grandparents,” Gerry said. “When one resident turned 99 we had a big birthday party for him.”

“It’s a beautiful community,” she said. “There’s a creek that runs through the back, and Grady has a garden. We donate food to the senior centers, churches — and the residents get to eat it, too. They like it. It’s nice having the fresh produce. It’s the Park Plaza Victory Garden. We also like to utilize the talents of the residents. Keeping their minds and hearts active is better for them as well,” she said.

Much of the residents’ artwork is on display in the hallways of the community.

“It’s amazing how many of them can paint and draw,” she said.

Gerry also organized a choir, active for the last four years, that performs around the local area. There are about 100 residents at Park Plaza and 25 of them are in the choir.

Gerry said singing is good for a person: it’s fun, and it helps your lungs and voice.

“It gives you more control and confidence,” she said.

Grady said a resident works as the social director and books engagements for the very active choir.

“Last year we did 64 performances,” Gerry said. “We look forward to it. It shows the community that when they come here, they are not coming here to die. They are coming here to live.”

The activities available at the facility are varied, with something for everyone who wants to participate.

Over time, activities have migrated to Park Plaza from other locations. They now hold Wednesday pinochle, and the third Thursday of the month they have live music and dancing. And new programs and activities are always in the works.

“We’re starting a travel program within our community,” Gerry said. Residents travel by bus, on one-day excursions.

“It’s a way they can be more involved,” she said.

Daily meals in the dining room are another way for residents to socialize and make new friends. There are also special meals and an annual barbecue.

“We have a place up at Tollgate,” said Grady. “Every year we take the residents. This year we had 60 residents up there for a barbecue. We sit around and reminisce; they eat in style. ... It really is a family.”

Park Plaza is a residence for seniors, but don’t mistake it for a care home, said Gerry.

“It’s not a nursing home,” she said. “It’s a senior apartment complex.”

The residents eat together in the dining room but they have their own homes to return to when they are done socializing.

“They can have caregivers — contracted help,” Gerry said. “Once you’re in Park Plaza you can stay here the rest of your life. You can ask for more help from your caregiver. You control your costs.”

The benefit is that residents don’t have to move to another facility if their needs increase.

Park Plaza is owned by Fortress Holiday Retirement Company, and Gerry and Grady are experienced property managers.

“We’ve been here ... the last four years. We were here 14 years ago; we managed other communities in between,” she said.

A huge asset for the residents is the social environment.

“It’s enrichment,” Gerry said. “The social meal times in the dining room — it takes that depression away.”

“It’s comfortable,” said Grady. “You can just sit down and chat. Sit down and talk for a while. We have an open-door policy that really is open-door. You’re welcome to come in and talk with us.”

“We get the satisfaction of seeing our residents happy and laughing. We are a family. Some of them don’t have any relatives. It’s not the atmosphere of the business, it’s like walking into your home. We dress casually. I want my people to be comfortable,” Gerry said.

Karlene Ponti is the U-B specialty publications writer. She can be reached at 509-526-8324 or karleneponti@wwub.com.

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