Jennifer – Irby Ranch Sunshine Resident

May 19, 2021
Jennifer with dress and tiara standing in Irby Ranch courtyard.

I’m so excited to introduce you to Jennifer, this month’s Irby Ranch Resident Spotlight! A self-described social butterfly, Jennifer’s thoughtful, kind, and humorous personality has garnered her many new friends since moving into Irby Ranch in September last year. Every time I see her, she is glowing and bright and happy – a real Sunshine Resident! Jennifer really enjoys making new friends and is very skilled in the craft! She was even interviewed by the SAHA Service Coordinator for a How to Make New Friends activity and got to roleplay in several videos to help fellow residents learn how to make new friends. As a successful cheerleader for programs and activities, I’m thankful to have Jennifer’s skillful help!

Jennifer holding artwork she created. Standing in front of her apartment door.Jennifer is very involved with many of our Sunflower Hill programs, participating in several activities each week. She excels at encouraging other residents to get involved, doing so cheerfully and with kindness and humor. She really loves to make people laugh! Jennifer’s favorite activity is arts and crafts. She loved participating in the BB-8 craft activity earlier this month. “I made one for myself and my support staff, Suzanne,” she said.

Jennifer also enjoyed participating in Chef Claudia’s Food Routines classes. She’s learning about food planning and shopping as well as making new recipes. Her favorite class was when Chef Claudia and the other participants made a fruit salad together.

Jennifer holding a tray of enchiladas she baked in her apartmentIn addition to participating in programs at Irby Ranch, Jennifer also enjoys participating in Teacher Becca’s weekly Popcorn Chat program. As a program participant, Jennifer enjoyed learning how to lead a Zoom call and getting to know other participants in a virtual setting. “I got to be a co-host one day and show everyone Irby Ranch,” she said. She’s become so comfortable with Zoom that she also attends a weekly Zoom dance class where she practices her dance moves!

Jennifer is full of energy and has also participated in programs at the Sunflower Hill Garden, with RADD, and the Special Olympics. She is currently helping to raise money to rebuild Camp Krem, which was destroyed in the CZU Lightening Complex fires last fall.

Jennifer has worked at Safeway for many years as a Courtesy Clerk and Head Bagger/Sanitation staff member. She enjoys reading, taking her dogs on walks, cooking in her apartment, hanging out with friends, and especially arts and crafts. She’s currently working on an art project. When I asked to see it, she said “it’s a surprise!” Jennifer is a diehard Oakland Athletics fan– you can frequently see her wearing A’s apparel – but also likes the San Francisco 49ers and San Francisco Giants.


On Living Independently

Living at Irby Ranch is Jennifer’s first experience living independently. Having lived with her mom until moving into Irby Ranch, she is enjoying working on the transition to independence and finds it challenging, but good. To Jennifer, living independently means she can make her own choice as to what she wants to do for the day. It also means she can cook by herself, do her own laundry, keep her apartment clean, and participate in activities “on my own without any support.” Jennifer’s recommendations for those who are new to independent living are:

  1. Keep your apartment nice and clean.
  2. Always keep your apartment locked.
  3. Make new friends. It’s always fun.
  4. Hang out with people you love and talk to them.
  5. When moving, make sure you have your belongings organized and packed.
  6. Do the unpacking at your new apartment slowly.
  7. Enjoy the moment!

On Living at Irby Ranch

Jennifer moved into Irby Ranch in September 2020 and has been staying at her apartment 3-4 days a week as she transitions to independent living. She says that she chose Irby Ranch to make new friends (this is always one of her goals!) and to be able to attend and walk to local, downtown events. When COVID restrictions ease more and her work schedule stabilizes, she plans to live at Irby Ranch fulltime. “When I feel more comfortable, I’ll live here fulltime,” she said.

Jennifer sitting at a tv table eating her dinner in her apartment.
Jennifer enjoying dinner in her apartment.
Jennifer playing a guitar in the Irby Ranch courtyard
Jennifer enjoys playing her guitar in the Irby Ranch courtyard.
Jennifer standing in snow with ski poles.
Jennifer enjoying the slopes!
Jennifer standing next to her grandmother
Jennifer and her grandmother.
Toddler Jennifer holding a blanket
Smiling Jennifer!
Jennifer as a child in an Oakland Athletics uniform, playing baseball.
Jennifer has been an Oakland Athletics fan for many years!
Jennifer and her support staff person with silly, fake mustaches on.
Jennifer enjoys being silly with her support staff!
Jennifer with a fishing pole next to a lake, fishing with her brother.
Jennifer fishing with her brother.
Jennifer with two of her support staff.
Jennifer and her support staff.
Jennifer in the kitchen standing next to the stove with a casserole she made, wearing  t-shirt that says, "Best Aunt Ever."
Jennifer preparing a meal in her apartment.

Jennifer enjoys many aspects of her apartment. “I like the view from my couch – I can see the whole courtyard,” she said. She also loves watching the sunset from her couch. She loves that she’s been able to put pictures up in her kitchen, making it her own. She’s also thrilled to have a large closet to fill with her arts and crafts supplies. I’m definitely jealous!

For Jennifer, living at Irby Ranch means she can hang out with her friends in the courtyard, go on walks around the neighborhood, and even watch the deer in the open space across the street! One of her favorite meet-up activities is getting together with a group of residents to walk to the Farmer’s Market on Saturdays.

Thoughts on the Pandemic

Like most of us, living with the uncertainty and restrictions from the pandemic this past year has been challenging. “It has been hard because you can’t hang out with friends and family,” she said. “It’s (been) hard to wear a mask at all times and not be able to do things in person.” She’s also missed being able to participate in Special Olympics. One good thing that happened this past year was being able to move into her new apartment. She was excited to have her family help her move, sharing that her “grandpa and some members of my family got to see my apartment!”

Plans for 2021

Colorful necklace with the word "Smile" that Jennifer made Pratima.Jennifer is excited to have already accomplished one of her main goals for 2021 – receiving her COVID-19 vaccination! She looks forward to exercising more and being able to play and hang out with friends in the Irby Ranch courtyard now that restrictions are loosening and more people are getting vaccinated. Like many of us, Jennifer also hopes to travel this year. She has family living in Ireland and would love to visit them!

Jennifer also hopes to learn how to help lead group activities with me, taking more of a leadership role in her participation. I’m excited to help support her efforts and know that as a Sunshine Resident, she’ll approach each activity with excitement, kindness, and humor!

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Story by: Pratimajit Kaur, Sunflower Hill at Irby Ranch Residential Programs Manager
Contributing Writer: Rachel Clark, Sunflower Hill Communications Manager

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