This story is from UCLA Today, a discontinued print and web publication.

Belmont Village offers housing option for retired staff, faculty

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Walk into the main lobby of the Belmont Village Senior Living facility in Westwood, and you might swear you were in the lobby of a fine hotel. A striking glass birdcage, complete with two live finches, is the first thing that catches your eye as you enter the Great Room, awash in tones of pale gold and brown and furnished with comfortable tables and chairs.
 
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The poolside lanai at Belmont Village.
To your left is a bistro where you can read your newspaper with a morning cappuccino or a thick smoothie; to the right, glass doors open out onto a lanai that features an outdoor fireplace and swimming pool.
 
Throw in supervised fitness programs; a screening room for movie nights; a multipurpose community room; a full-service salon and spa; a Jacuzzi; a library that provides books, videos and computers; a lounge; a wellness center; a concierge; and restaurant-style dining, and you have all the makings of a relaxing vacation.
 
belmontBelmont Village Westwood, however, is more than a vacation spot. It is currently home to 85 residents, 40% of whom are related to UCLA in one of the following ways: as retired staff or faculty or their parents; as active staff or faculty or their parents; as alumni; or as benefactors. People in these categories have priority in terms of being admitted to the building and in choosing their units. Those with ties to UC or who come from the surrounding community also have priority over the general public.
 
The Westwood facility — a six-story, 168-unit building near the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Warner Avenue — is one of 20 Belmont Village Senior Living communities that are spread throughout the country. This one, however, has a special connection to the UCLA Emeriti/Retirees Relations Center and the members of its Joint Housing Committee, which formed in 2000, explained Eddie Murphy, center director. While UCLA does not endorse the Westwood facility, nor did it provide any funding for it, the committee members talked to Belmont about coming to Westwood after searching for seven years for senior housing options that would allow them to be close to UCLA in order to continue their activities on campus.
 
Belmont’s proximity to the campus was a major consideration for Katy Kolodziejski, 86, a former faculty member in the School of Social Welfare who wanted to maintain her identification with UCLA. She chose to live in a first-floor unit, next to her garden.
 
“I volunteer on the campus [in the UCLA Office of Ombuds Services], and I like being close to that. I take a lot of courses through both Extension and Osher (the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UCLA),” Kolodziejski said. In fact, she will be giving a Belmont Village lecture on life transitions later this month. “The spaciousness of the building attracted me, as did having access to the campus and a level of activities that I thought would be stimulating for me.
 
“I have a philosophy that in older age, you need to continue your activities and do what you can do with the limitations you have,” she said, laughing, “because those limitations change all the time!”
 
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Belmont residents Lillie and Harold Fischer (center, in brown tops) took part in the ribbon-cutting along with Belmont Village CEO Patricia Will (far left) and UCLA Emeriti/Retirees Relations Center director Eddie Murphy (far right). Vice Chancellor for Academic Personnel Thomas Rice stands in the back, far right.
Lillie and Harold Fischer, a former mechanical and aeronautical engineer who worked in the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science and in UCLA’s Office of Extramural Support, were among the first residents to move into Belmont when it opened in July. Both 92, the Fischers chose a sixth-floor apartment with a northwest view of UCLA and the coast.
 
In addition to the extensive services and programs, the couple particularly enjoys attending lectures at Belmont, some of them given by UCLA professors. Lillie uses the fitness room and equipment, and both take advantage of the library and the screening room, which shows movies a couple of times a week. The residents even have monthly meetings with the facility’s chef to ensure input on meals.
 
livingroomThe presence of UCLA community members has also contributed to the ambience at Belmont, said Belmont Village president and co-founder Patricia Will. “Not everyone in the building is a retired dean or a department chairman, but we certainly have a large number of them, which lends a richness to the building that is truly unlike any retirement or assisted-living community that I’ve ever seen, including ours. And I think ours are pretty wonderful.”
 
Monthly rents range from $4,825 for a one-bedroom, independent-living unit, to $11,950 for a two-bedroom, assisted-living unit. There are also plans that offer special support services for residents with mild cognitive impairment ($7,300 to $13,350 monthly) and for those with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia ($5,000 to $8,000).
 
For more on Belmont Village Westwood, visit http://westwood.belmontvillage.com. Questions may be directed to Laurie Nussbaum, director of community relations, at (310) 475-7501. The university does not have any responsibility or liability for the facility or its operation.
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