In a previous blog several years ago, I mourned the fact that the field behind our house was being developed, causing the owls that would roost in the trees to relocate. Ever since Stoneridge Creek, the senior living community, was completed last year, I’ve been trying to find a way to see the end result and meet some of the neighbors beyond our fence. I had the chance when I heard about Ty Kaufman…
By day, Ty Kaufman is the Plant Operations Director at Stoneridge Creek Continuing Life Retirement Community; by night he’s a heavy metal lead guitarist for the Bay Area band Ratchet. These two passions are not as disparate as one might think.
Kaufman developed his love for working with senior citizens gradually, when his first high school job was dishwashing in a Spokane, Washington, retirement home. “I didn’t like washing dishes,” he said, “but it was a steppingstone to groundskeeper to maintenance technician and then into management.” He soon learned about the relationships that form when working with the elderly. “We eventually become family,” he said.
His love for music began much earlier, at age 5, when his mom gave him an old guitar she’d purchased for $14 from the Salvation Army. A Native American who spent his early years on a reservation, Kaufman grew up without electricity and spent hours each day composing music and practicing.
Stoneridge Creek officially opened in September 2013, and Kaufman was there weeks beforehand, managing the logistics of moving 100 people into their new homes. “It was like the Old West,” he said. “All the new residents hauling their stuff were the pioneers.”
In its innovative and comprehensive approach to retirement, Stoneridge Creek offers a planned neighborhood with lovely homes and recreation, plus continued care in the adjacent Creekview. Operation issues are Kaufman’s domain, amounting to about 225 work orders a week and the management of technicians, landscapers, mechanics and drivers.
Residents Lynn Hall and Ludlow Miller, who work with Kaufman on the Maintenance Advisory Committee, praised the positive relationship between residents and employees. The committee worked to reduce electrical bills and continues to improve conservation efforts.
“Stoneridge Creek was very forward-thinking in its construction,” said Miller, who relocated with his wife last year from Philadelphia to be closer to their grandchildren.
“Our goal is to improve the quality of life by fine-tuning things,” said Hall who also moved in last year. In her short time at Stoneridge Creek, she’s discovered that she has a talent for drawing. “It began with an art class; now people are hiring me to do drawings of their grandchildren,” she said.“It may be considered senior living, but no one here is old,” said Kaufman, and that certainly seemed to be true when I visited. Activity surrounded us, with buses waiting out front for the day’s excursion, families dining on the patio, a lecture in one conference room and a yoga class in another.
As for the merging of Kaufman’s two worlds, it looks like he’ll get the chance in the fall Talent Show. He’s committed to perform with fellow band member and Stoneridge chef Jonnie Walker. When I asked if they’d play heavy metal and imagined the inevitable clash with the easy listening music that accompanies the dancing fountains, Ty smiled.
“Probably something more bluesy.” he said.
“I’ll like it as long as I can dance to it,” said Hall.