Building community

Columbia Ridge outreach encourage the public, residents to get to know one another

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Anthony Overacker and Kendra Upjohn decorate birdhouses during a recent craft day on the patio at Columbia Ridge assisted living. The facility sponsors these types of gatherings every month so residents and community members have a chance to mingle. Below, at left, Heidi Alandt, activities director, gets to work and at right, Ashima Ram, community outreach coordinator, puts a splash of color on her creation.

When most people think of assisted living, they probably flash to images of dark hallways and hospital type food served in a bland atmosphere.

But that all has changed in the past several years. Nowadays, many assisted living centers resemble 5-star hotels in the quality of rooms and service.

To emphasize that point, Columbia Ridge Senior Living in Washougal offers several opportunities for residents and local community members to interact with other through events such as ice cream socials, happy hours, spaghetti feeds and craft projects.

Last week, residents, volunteers and community members decorated birdhouses on the patio outside, enjoying some much-needed sunshine.

“For those of us who aren’t familiar with assisted living, this is a good way to get introduced to it and realize life is good here,” Vancouver resident Judia Jackson said. “These activities are also very valuable to the residents.”

Heidi Alandt is the Columbia Ridge activities director.

“It’s fun and it brings the residents outside,” she said. “They can create something and keep it inside or give it to a family member. This also allows family and friends to join them in an activity.”

Anthony Overacker of Washougal joined his girlfriend, volunteer Kendra Upjohn, to decorate birdhouses.

“I’m on vacation and she volunteers here, so I thought I’d come to see what she does,” he said. “It seems pretty cool, and it’s very organized and they do a bunch of activities.”

Upjohn began helping out at Columbia Ridge about a month ago. She comes in every Tuesday and Thursday.

“It’s a lot of fun,” she said. “I’m considering becoming a certified nursing assistant and wanted to see the atmosphere that I may work in someday.”

Upjohn’s favorite part of volunteer work is, “Seeing all the ladies here. Bingo is so much fun.”

Ashima Ram, who coordinates the community outreach activities, said it is an important way to bring family, friends, and others into Columbia Ridge.

“We love to have the community come in and support us in our events,” she added.

Marie Hofmaster, a five-year resident, enjoys trying new activities.

“There’s always something different and interesting,” she said.

“I try to do almost everything. It makes the time go by faster, and it’s a great way to make friends.”

Upcoming community events include the following:

Patriotic celebrations: Join the residents of Columbia Ridge from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, July 1 for patriotic celebrations and a summer kick-off barbeque.

Ice cream social: There will be a monthly ice cream social at the Washougal Community Center, 1661 C St., from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 14.

The community is invited to join residents of Columbia Ridge and others for tasty treats and a variety of toppings.