July 29, 2020
A group of residents at The Terraces at Los Altos, affectionately dubbed “The Renegade Floor,” have cultivated an atmosphere more reminiscent of a college dorm than a senior living community. Open doors, group meals, and endless social activities have been a hallmark of those who live there.
“The whole floor is like a large cul-de-sac,” said resident Gary Lipe, a renegado for two years now. “Everyone looks out for one another. That’s what I moved into; I thought I’d gone to heaven.”
“It’s just such a close-knit floor,” adds Debby Gonzales, The Terraces’ executive director. “On many occasions a resident puts out flowers every other week by the elevator. Another resident bakes for the floor.”
Pre-pandemic, the renegades would host monthly themed parties supported by a meal from culinary services. The open-door policy meant impromptu visits complemented by coffee, tea or hot chocolate were encouraged and welcomed. Today, drop-ins are still welcome, albeit with a mask and physical distancing, and meals are now broken into small socially distanced groups of three or four.
“We all do our part to keep the community safe,” said Gonzales. “We tell residents do what you’re going to do but do it with a mask and at least six feet apart. The floor is very understanding and has a keen appreciation of our protocols.”
It’s a sentiment Gary shares. “Debby tells us what’s best for the community and us and lets us use our judgement.
When Gary isn’t hosting drop-ins, he joins neighbors on walks to Mitchell Park or Cuesta Park, often returning with treats from Hobee’s or Happy Donuts to share amongst the floor.
“He just brings joy into people’s lives,” said Gonzales, adding Gary posts jokes on his door submitted from residents throughout the campus. “His main goal in life is to make people laugh.”
Read more about Gary and the Terraces at Los Altos here.