Welcoming Friends House to Covia
We are excited to welcome Friends House into the Covia family. In April 2021, Friends House merged with Covia after over two years of working together under a management partnership.
Friends House is a Quaker-inspired continuing care retirement community located in Sonoma County that is centered on the values of peace, integrity, simplicity, equality, and community.
Friends House opened in 1984, starting out with a handful of residents, and has grown over the last 37 years into a community with 63 garden apartments and 4 houses for independent living. One of Friends Houses’ founders, Robert Schutz, noted in an article on the community’s opening that the founders “got exactly what we had wanted and planned: a small community where everyone would know everyone else and feel a sense of community.”
These sentiments continue to be true in 2021. Associate Executive Director Jaclyn Carenbauer says, “Friends House is the true meaning of community. At Friends House, you feel welcomed, cared for, appreciated, and you know that you matter to the community.”
“As a small community, we know all other residents and thus are able to support one another,” noted a longtime Friends House resident.
Activities and Events
This sense of welcoming and inclusion is present throughout, including Friends House’s activities and events. Residents run and lead their own activities, such as knitting, mahjong, book club, Saturday night movies, language classes, and more. This direct input means that the calendar of activities always reflects what residents are passionate about.
Outside of weekly activities, Friends House also holds special events throughout the year. For example, Jazz in July welcomes members of the wider community out to the Friends House patio for jazz music, dancing, appetizers, and a collection of vintage cars. The Quaker Tea, inspired by Friends Houses Quaker heritage, invites the wider Santa Rosa community to peruse art created by residents, listen to music, and enjoy resident made baked goods and finger sandwiches. In traditional Quaker dress, residents serve tea and all proceeds from the event go to fund community service projects.
The Quaker Tea is one of two resident led fundraisers, the second being the Holiday Fair that is held in November. The fair features items handmade by residents, a bake sale, French café, and outside vendors.
Friends House is located on a 7-acre garden campus bursting with natural beauty. One of Carenbauer’s favorite aspects of the community is the “campus’s focus on enjoying nature in its natural state.” Each apartment has its own garden out front and the community has over 100 fruit trees and rose bushes.
Friends House also features the Sunny Garden, a shared community garden with close to a dozen raised beds. Created during the pandemic as a way to foster connection when residents were unable to gather in person, the Sunny Garden features plots that are tended by both residents and staff.
Beyond the gardens, residents also enjoy a full library, fitness center, hair salon, café, and a creek path as well as additional amenities that make life at Friends House relaxing and peaceful.
As a continuing care retirement community (CCRC), Friends House offers different levels of care including independent living and assisted living. Friends House also offers an Options program, which brings the support of assisted living into independent living apartments so residents can live independently for longer while receiving the care that they need. Residents have access to skilled nursing care at Spring Lake Village, Covia’s Life Plan community located in Santa Rosa right across the street from Trione-Annadel State Park.
Covia and Friends House coming together provides further opportunities for support and Carenbauer is excited not only “for the opportunities to connect with the larger Covia community” but also “for the other Covia communities to experience the warmth and friendship of Friends House staff and residents.” Two longtime residents shared that they are looking forward to “being part of a larger community with shared values and the opportunity to share activities.”