Retired Special Education Teacher Finds New Creativity at Sunshine Villa Retirement Community

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Artistic Late Bloomer Defies Art Teacher’s Expectations

With so much of the worry and daily chores taken out of their schedule, many seniors find they finally have the time to try things and develop talents they’ve always wanted to.

-Teri Cilley, executive director at Sunshine Villa

When Susan Green was in seventh grade, her art teacher told her that she was “lousy” and should avoid any art projects in the future. Now 60 years wiser, Green has found her muse while living at Sunshine Villa, and is having the last laugh.

Since moving to Sunshine Villa, a senior living community in Santa Cruz, Green has taken on several ongoing art projects, including paintings, multimedia, and creating themed napkin rings for her community’s monthly candlelight dinner. Some of Green’s artwork has even been featured in the county exhibit, “Ageless Art.”

Working for 22 years as a special education teacher, Green knows firsthand that different individuals have different abilities and talents. But it was not until she moved to Sunshine Villa that she realized that art was one of hers. “All this time I assumed I was not good at art,” said Green. “I’m really surprised that this has all come so easily.” While Susan may be surprised by her newfound talent, those in her community are not.

“Susan is a wonderful example of what occurs in many people when they move to a retirement community like this,” said Teri Cilley, executive director at Sunshine Villa. “With so much of the worry and daily chores taken out of their schedule, many seniors find they finally have the time to try things and develop talents they’ve always wanted to.”

A study by the MacArthur Foundation revealed that lifestyle choices, rather than genes determine how well we age in later life. The study showed that those who remain engaged and involved socially, physically, spiritually, and mentally live overall healthier and better lives. Green and her fellow residents have found an environment that promotes such an active lifestyle at Sunshine Villa.

In addition to her artistic ventures, Green also spends much of her time helping her neighbors at Sunshine Villa feel at home, through her service as president of the resident council, and as a welcome ambassador to new residents in the community.

Green has no plans of giving up her new activities, and believes her new abilities will only improve given more time and practice. As for her old art teacher’s opinion, she doesn’t give it much thought these days. “Now I know I’m an artist,” said Green.

Sunshine Villa Assisted Living & Memory Care, located just blocks from the Pacific Ocean in Santa Cruz, is a BPM Senior Living community providing quality housing and care while encouraging residents to live an active, engaged lifestyle. The community features 24-hour staffing, restaurant-style dining, wellness programs, transportation, and many more services and amenities. For more information about the community, call 831-459-8400 or visit the community’s website at http://www.

ABOUT BPM Senior Living
BPM Senior Living has successfully developed and operates 17 premier senior living communities in seven states. Leadership is committed to the highest quality of care while maintaining beautiful living environments so that residents enjoy life with choice, dignity, privacy and independence. BPM communities include: Desert Flower, Scottsdale, AZ; Magnolia Village, Riverside, CA; Orchard Park, Clovis, CA; Regency Grand at West Covina, West Covina, CA; Sun Oak, Citrus Heights, CA; Sunshine Villa, Santa Cruz, CA; Willow Park, Boise, ID; Acacia Springs, Heritage Springs and Regency Palms, Las Vegas, NV; Regency Park, Portland, OR; The Regent and Regent Court, Corvallis, OR; Royalton Place, Milwaukie, OR; Sheldon Park, Eugene OR; Canyon Creek, Cottonwood Heights, UT; and Overlake Terrace, Redmond, WA. For more information about BPM Senior Living, visit their web site at


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Brandi Towns
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