Meet Sandy: Planning For The Future At Sierra WindsJune 24, 2020
The residents of Sierra Winds, independent senior living, are known throughout the West Valley as some of the most welcoming, sociable, and interesting seniors in the area. Sandy French fits this description perfectly. As chair of the community’s Welcoming Committee, Sandy is one of the first friendly faces each new resident meets upon moving to Sierra Winds. Read on to learn how Sandy is planning for the future at Sierra Winds.
The Early Years — A World-Traveler.
Sandy was born in Canada. Her father worked for Canadian Bank of Commerce and during her youth, Sandy lived with her family in Jamaica and in San Francisco. Her education years were spent in Victoria, and, after that, she pursued her career in London and in Liverpool. “I’ve been lucky to have traveled a lot in my life,” says Sandy. “I lived in England — several different times — and changed jobs a lot, taking me to new places. People are surprised to learn that once I even took a solo bus trip from India to London.”
This no fear, adventurous spirit is a mantra for Sandy, who followed in the footsteps of her mother and sister as a registered nurse. This career enabled her to easily change jobs and live in different places. “My favorite jobs were one in public health in Vancouver and a teaching job in Seattle,” she says. When asked what advice she would give to her 20-something self, Sandy offers, “Take advantage of the opportunity to do more things in life,” she says. “For instance, I regret not signing up for the Peace Corps.” WHEW! Why are we not surprised?
A Chance Meeting — Or Was It?
Sandy met her husband Don on one of those trips from Seattle — this time to British Columbia (BC) to visit a friend. “I was actually picked-up on a beach in BC by Don’s German short hair pointer, Fritz, who ran away from his master and came to sit by me in the sand,” she tells the story. Don was also visiting a friend in BC. He worked in aerospace — for Boeing, actually, on the Space Shuttle. Don and Sandy married and made Seattle their home.
Their Arizona years began in 1997 when Sandy and Don moved from Seattle to Sun City West. “There were 14 other couples we knew there from Seattle — so Don and I fit right in at Sun City West,” says Sandy. “Physical fitness was a large part of my life back then. I really enjoyed golf and worked as a starter at a Sun City West golf course. I count a trip to The Masters in Augusta as one of my most memorable life experiences. “I volunteered quite a lot within the community at Sun City West,” says Sandy, who taught classes in CPR and Fall Prevention at the Sun City West Fire Department — a perfect fit for her background in healthcare.
Don passed away 10 years ago. Numerous nieces and nephews form a strong family connection for Sandy, who put her plan for Retirement — Phase II into action almost two years ago when she moved from Sun City West to Sierra Winds.
Always Part of Her Plan
It’s needless to say that many seniors are not as organized as Sandy in planning for the future. Keep in mind that Retirement — Phase I of Sandy’s plan was her move to Sun City West with Don years before. With a major portion of her downsizing already done, there was now more to think about — security and well-being in the years ahead, as well as maintaining her independence and the comforts she loves.
“I always knew that by the time I was 80, I would either know where I was going to live or have moved already,” she says. “So, when the timing was right, I started looking. I’m a true believer in the Life Plan Community concept and had no desire to look at anything that did not fit that model.” Sandy says she visited about eight other Life Care communities. A friend of a friend lives at Sierra Winds and invited Sandy for a visit. “Sierra Winds just felt right — comfortable and not ostentatious,” says Sandy. “I was already sold on Life Care, and the non-profit aspects of the community appealed to me, too. It just felt right, so I moved on instinct and, so far, it’s proven to be the right move for me.”
Sandy’s Lifestyle at Sierra Winds
A one-bedroom apartment with a lovely patio deck on the second floor perfectly suits Sandy’s lifestyle and financial plan, she claims. “Since I moved here, I pretty much spend all my time within the community,” she says, and praises the friendly, welcoming staff and residents.
Right away, Sandy started working in The Marketplace and volunteers in the Health Center at Sierra Winds—as a chance to meet and learn about other residents. She also chairs the 6-member Welcoming Committee and reads a lot, appreciating the wide selection of books in the community library. “At the moment, I have no other thoughts of engaging in more activity — or time, for that matter,” says Sandy.
Although COVID-19 restrictions are easing day-by-day, Sandy shares some insight into her life at Sierra Winds during the pandemic era, regarding the care and peace of mind she’s experienced. “I can’t say enough about the caring, attentive staff here. They went out of their way to plan things for the residents and regularly brought “treats” to our doors,” Sandy says. “In fact, one day, the head chef even brought my meal to my door so he could say hello!
“I feel my biggest achievement is succeeding in life, and being happy and content with myself in these later years,” Sandy says. “Who knows what’s going to come next! My health is good, my activity level a little diminished, but my attitude is positive now — and always has been! I worked all my life, so I don’t feel a bit guilty that I thoroughly enjoy being looked after. I deserve the luxury! And for others like me, my advice would be to smile, be happy — and make sure you choose the right place to live out your retirement.”