Channing House Welcomes Our New Residents, Alice and Lou

Alice Galenson and Lou Thompson are a bright, engaging couple. And while only three months into their residency at Channing House, they’ve already seen and experienced enough to believe making this move was absolutely the right decision for them. Interestingly, while location and the ability to live among other active, educated retirees played a big role in their decision, another major influence in helping the couple choose Channing House is the community’s political advocacy.

“When we read that the residents at Channing House had written 20,000 letters for Vote Forward,” says Alice, “that convinced us the people here would be compatible with us.” “We will absolutely be involved in the various get out the vote kind of things being done here,” adds Lou. “As it is, we’ve been doing this on our own for prior elections.”

While still relatively new to Channing House, Alice and Lou’s political activism is something they feel fits right in with the spirit of the community. “I’ve already become involved in a committee trying to decide how Channing House can have an influence on upcoming elections,” says Lou, “whether by doing our own thing here, or by helping other groups achieve the same things we believe in, which to be fair, are liberal causes.”

But while their political beliefs are part of what influenced Alice and Lou to move to Channing House, there are a number of other important factors that added to their decision. A big consideration is the proximity of family. Although Alice was born and spent her formative years in the Bay area, her parents moved east when she went to college. Both Alice and Lou worked for The World Bank, settling in Chevy Chase, MD. However, when their son, Joel began attending college at Stanford, the couple found themselves doing a lot of coast-to-coast travel.

“After years of traveling for work,” says Alice, “we found a lot of our travel had to do with visiting the kids. Lou’s kids were living in Chicago and New York, but after seeing what it was like out here, we decided to make the move. We finally persuaded the other kids to move west too, so now we’ve got the whole family here.”

Alice and Lou spent 13 years in nearby Saratoga, before moving to Channing House. “We picked Channing House because of its location,” explains Alice, “not only in terms of everything Palo Alto has to offer, but because with Stanford right here, there’s a lot of intellectual activity. I’d say the bulk of the people we’ve met at Channing House were already living in Palo Alto or one of the towns right next door before they moved here. They consider us almost foreigners because we moved from Saratoga, which is a 20-minute drive away. While there are several communities closer to Saratoga, we thought this would be a more stimulating place to be.”

So far, they haven’t been disappointed — or left out. “We have a kind of lecture series,” says Lou, “comprised of people from both outside and inside the community, who have specific knowledge about various topics. For example, I’m chairman of the peer review group that reports to the California legislature on the high-speed rail project. So, the first question, I got was, ‘will you give a talk about the rail project and what’s going on?’ I said, of course. Invariably, because most of the residents here have incredible experience and education, you have to be careful sitting down at the dinner table, because the person you’re talking to may know more than you do about almost any subject you want to talk about. I see that as a very positive thing.”

“When people move in,” adds Alice, “they publish little bios about them in the monthly newsletter. Those later show up on the resident website. I think a lot of the people who invited us to dinner at the beginning, had probably picked us from our bios and for many of them, the first question was always, ‘what’s going on with high-speed rail?’” “It’s another way of saying how active the intellectual background or framework of this place is,” Lou says, continuing the thought. There are an awfully lot of very educated people knowledgeable about all kinds of subjects.”

There’s no question that, aside from the obvious sense of humor they both demonstrate, Alice and Lou also share an active lifestyle. That’s yet another reason they chose Channing House. While the couple owns a home in Oregon and enjoy hiking in the Sierras, they’ve found living in Palo Alto also helps keep them active. “We walk about three miles every day,” says Alice, “and have had a fantastic time learning all the streets around here. Channing House is three blocks from University Avenue, which is the main drag for Stanford’s students with all the restaurants, stores and movie theaters. We can walk to a drugstore, Whole Foods, the bank, so we don’t need to use our car for pretty much anything. We’ve had a wonderful time just walking around looking at the great variety of houses and beautiful gardens.”

There’s another important reason Alice and Lou chose Channing House — the fact it’s a Life Care Community. “One of the big selling points for us,” says Alice, “is that once you’re here, you’re going to be taken care of for the rest of your life. You could have a stroke, the day after you move in, and they’ll take care of you. We live independently in our own apartment. But if we need it, they have assisted living and skilled nursing. On top of that there’s a nurse on duty 24 hours, so if you have something you really need immediate help with, there’s a nurse available. And being where we are, you’re always very close to extremely good medical care.”

Between the location, amenities, healthcare, and enormous number of activities available to them, Alice and Lou are slightly overwhelmed choosing what they’ve enjoyed most during their first three months at Channing House. For music lovers like Alice and Lou, the concerts have certainly been a highlight of their brief residence, as is the view of the Santa Cruz Mountains from their apartment. But as frequently seems to be the case with many residents, what it comes down to is the people. 

“Aside from the fact that the facilities are excellent, exactly what you want and well maintained,” says Lou, “I think what’s special about Channing House is the community. We thought things were going to work out well with the people here, and they have. I’d be hard pressed to think of any way this could have worked out better.”

If you’d like to see for yourself why fun and interesting people like Alice and Lou chose to move to Channing House, call 650-529-4871 to schedule your personal tour.

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