Resident Stories

Our residents make Emerald Heights special.

Get a different perspective from the people who know us best. Read our residents’ personal stories.

Gene & Jean Parsons

Gene & Jean Parsons

We were living in a townhome near here. It was a nice place to live, and all our exterior maintenance was taken care of. We were happy, but there were so few people our age in the neighborhood. So we began to look around the area for retirement communities. We wanted to find a place where we could be around people who shared our same interests.


We chose Emerald Heights over other area communities for two reasons. First was Life Care. We acknowledged that we were getting older. The idea that we could receive continuing care right here on campus if we ever needed it was really appealing. And we didn’t have long-term care insurance, so it alleviated that worry. The second thing we liked most was the people. Everyone is so friendly here. It’s a very social atmosphere and there’s always something fun going on.

We stay really busy. I (Gene) help edit the material that is shown on the community’s own TV station. We record performances and lectures, and then play them for those who were unable to attend. I also help out in the coffee shop once a week. It’s 100% resident-run, so I’m on French toast duty. It’s a great way to socialize and get to know new people. There’s always so much to do. There are groups constantly getting together for one activity or another. But if you don’t want to participate in something, there’s no pressure. You can be as active as you want. We like that independence.

We have such high praise for everybody we come in contact with. The community hires a lot of staff from Redmond High School next door. They do such a great job of choosing prime people for prime jobs. They’re so cheerful and friendly, and it makes for a wonderful environment. And when our children and grandchildren come to visit, the staff is really great in accommodating them and making them feel welcome.

If you’re thinking about moving to a community like this, you’ll love it. You’ll have so much independence, but you can still get assistance if you need it. If you need something fixed, maintenance handles it. If you need a ride somewhere, there’s a shuttle to take you. We really like the flexibility that gives us. We really can’t complain about anything!

Mary Murphy

Mary Murphy

Mary Murphy made the move to Emerald Heights in August 2013, after living at Providence Point for the last 11 years. She knew she wanted a place with a strong sense of community, so she made the move to Emerald Heights.

Although she wasn’t positive how much she wanted to downsize, her previous 2,000-square-foot home became just too much. She decided on a one-bedroom home at Emerald Heights, but planned on moving into a larger space when one opened up. With the help of her children, she sorted through all her belongings.

Mary was thoughtful about what she kept. She brought boxes of old photographs, determined to finally put them all in albums, and all her necessary tools to continue porcelain painting. She used the storage spaces provided for things she didn’t need in her apartment.

Mary loves staying busy. In fact, she was the previous social chair of Forest Village at Providence Point.

“I’m too busy to feel confined,” she says, “and I don’t think I’ll ever feel that way.”

Besides porcelain painting and spending time with her Biewer Terrier, Huey, she enjoys early-morning water aerobics classes, Saturday night movies, and hiking on the trail, “which is actually quite challenging,” she chuckles.

Mary first heard about Emerald Heights when she was a geriatric nurse.

“It was when Emerald Heights was still being built,” she recalls, “and one of my patients said they were moving there.”

After retiring, Mary made frequent trips to Emerald Heights to visit with close friends.

“One time, my friend told me she was taking a bus down to Ashland to see five plays in five days. I told her I was jealous, but then she suggested that I come along!” Mary says.

She did indeed go, and participated in many events after that. Now, as a resident, Mary looks forward to participating in more Emerald Heights trips, and has her eye on the Here and There book.

Mary has always enjoyed the welcoming community at Emerald Heights.

“Emerald Heights is the best place to live in the area,” Mary says. “It’s not like some places that feel more like a hotel.”

She appreciates the “homey” atmosphere and enjoys watching people come and go in the lobby, referred to as the “living room,” as well as many other common areas. Although Mary has a full kitchen in her apartment, she prefers the pleasant company and variety of dishes prepared in the dining room.

Now settled in, Mary has removed her name from the waiting list for a larger apartment. She’s happy in her cozy new home, which expands far beyond her doorstep.

Estelle Ashkenazi

Estelle Ashkenazi

There’s no way you can miss this Brooklyner walking the halls of Emerald Heights. Estelle moves with confidence and spunk, and when you greet her, you’ll hear her distinctive accent. Estelle may have moved out of Brooklyn, but there’s no taking the Brooklyn out of Estelle. She was born, raised and married in the big city, and made the move to Washington just over a decade ago. After touring Emerald Heights on a visit to see her daughter living in Redmond, she made the decision to move to Washington. The winters in New York were harsh and house upkeep was becoming more challenging. Her son-in-law reminded her that in Washington, “You don’t have to shovel the rain.”

Shortly after Estelle moved into her one-bedroom apartment home at Emerald Heights, her daughter relocated to England for work. Alone in Washington, Estelle never considered moving back to New York.

“It wasn’t as hard as you think,” she says.

Age was catching up with many of her friends back East, and at Emerald Heights she felt a comfortable sense of family and never felt confined to her apartment home. Plus, when her youngest daughter came to visit, she could always stay in the guest rooms at Emerald Heights.

Estelle’s older daughter and her family soon moved back to Redmond, and Estelle began taking her grandson to acting rehearsals. It wasn’t long before the director overheard Estelle’s accent and offered Estelle a role. Having taken acting classes in the past, Estelle embraced the invitation and played the grandmother in Cinderella at the Issaquah Theater. Naturally, she personalized the role by adding a Brooklyn accent.

When not acting, Estelle was walking her big collie dog around Emerald Heights. Despite staying active, Estelle was having difficulty moving around due to arthritis. She was suffering from severe shoulder pain and struggling with her sense of balance. Around the same time, Estelle’s daughter was diagnosed with breast cancer. Right up until surgery, her daughter continued to work out and stay active. Her daughter recovered in remarkable time after a 12-hour surgery, which doctors accredited to her persistence to staying active. This motivated Estelle to begin adding a workout routine to her regular walking. She began taking personal training sessions with Kim Palka, Emerald Heights’ fitness program coordinator. “Active people are inspiring, and Kim Palka is one of the biggest inspirations here.”

Kim helped Estelle discover her own strengths. In the beginning, there were a few machines that gave Estelle trouble, like the elliptical, but she persisted. In addition to weekly sessions with Kim, Estelle continues to work out independently. Now there isn’t a machine that Estelle can’t handle, and when it comes to the leg press, you can find her pushing 265 lbs. Estelle’s determination to stay fit has not only improved her balance and walking, but it’s also allowed her to continue doing the things she loves, including traveling and acting.

Next time you see Estelle walking, be sure to greet her. She’s not acting when she greets you back … she loves meeting new people.