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  • Carolyn Gauthier

Facility Profile: The Redwoods

Mission: To maintain a creative, affordable community that promotes good health, well-being and security for a diverse group of elders.

The Redwoods: A Community of Seniors in Mill Valley is a non-profit senior residence, which opened its doors in 1972. They have all levels of care such as independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing. Bread & Roses has been serving the seniors there since 1977, producing shows in the healthcare unit as well as in the main auditorium.

The seniors who live there are mostly very active. There are many programs to keep people busy. In fact, residents can create their own groups to offer programs to others. Some of the activities are gardening, arts and crafts, dancing, drumming, technology training, activism (the Seniors for Peace have held a weekly public vigil since 2003) and music, including the Rock the Ages Chorus.

Rock the Ages, a “rock and roll senior chorus,” performs familiar classic songs from the sixties with “soundpopaudio” accompaniment by Music Director Barry Blum. They have presented several very well received concerts for Bread & Roses Presents at The Tamalpais, Vision Impaired of Marin and Whistlestop.

Of the 230 shows Bread & Roses has brought to The Redwoods over the years, many have been outstanding. Among the highlights are the programs presented in collaboration with the Seniors for Peace including author David Harris with Joan Baez; and the late Pete Seeger with his grandson Tao Rodriguez-Seeger. Every year the residents also look forward to singing along with the Bread & Roses Holiday Chorus now in its tenth year.

During the current shelter-in-place created to slow the spread of Covid 19, Director of Programs and Volunteers Noreen McKeon is busier than ever. She and her team have created virtual learning and fun opportunities to keep the residents engaged. McKeon said, “We are making sure residents don’t experience isolation-related decline. When the doors open, we want them to have the ability to come out.”

The Redwoods of Mill Valley now has its own YouTube channel loaded with pre-recorded classes and concerts, as well as a 34-page catalog detailing how to access the many offerings on the Internet -- from library cards to operas and zoo feeding. They have safely kept their gym open and are offering “Courtyard Concerts” so Residents can still enjoy the beauty of live music from their balconies while sheltering in place. Bread & Roses has been sending out videos made by our volunteers to many of the facilities we serve. Noreen arranged the showing of several videos by the Young People’s Symphony Orchestra from their 2019-2020 season. The classical music lovers at The Redwoods appreciated these talented teens playing Dvorak, Mendelsohn, Tchaikovsky and more.

“We miss you!” said Noreen. “The residents can’t wait to see you again.” Bread & Roses is hoping to be able do some out-door concerts for the isolated seniors at The Redwoods and other facilities soon.

Check out this fun video of some residents singing “These Doors Are Made for Closin’: A Corona Virus Song” to the tune of “These Boots Are Made for Walkin."

By Carolyn Gauthier, Vice President, Programs

Photo Credits:

1) Residents of The Redwoods filled the audience for a concert with Pete Seeger in honor of Seniors for Peace in 2009. Photo by Andrew de Lory.

2) The Rock the Ages Senior Chorus from The Redwoods performed for their friends at The Tamalpais in Greenbrae in 2017. Photo by Rosemary Greenberg from The Tamalpais.

3) Tao Rodriguez and Pete Seeger at The Redwoods in honor of Seniors for Peace in 2009. Photo by Ken Friedman

4) The 6th Annual Bread & Roses Holiday Chorus performing at The Redwoods in 2016.

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