TreVista Antioch Senior Living hires local lady to lead the team

TreVista Antioch’s new Executive Director, Sonya Smith.

By Allen Payton

The city’s premier assisted living facility, TreVista Antioch recently made a change in leadership with the hiring of Sonya (Gonzalez) Smith as the new Executive Director. She replaces Neal Torres who has moved on to another position in the industry.

A native of Antioch, Smith is a graduate of Antioch High and was on the varsity teams for both cross country and track. She was track and field team captain in her freshman year. She was the starter for the 4×100 relay team, but her specialty was the 200-meter. They wouldn’t let her run the hurdles, as she wanted, out of fear of getting hurt and not being able to be the relay team’s starter. But Smith got her chance to deal with hurdles, later in her career.

“I got my running from my dad. He was a runner. I’m an Army brat and he would enter me in all the kids’ mile runs, over by the fairgrounds,” Smith shared. “Tom Torlakson was my cross-country coach. We always participated in the Kiwanis Club’s Holiday Run.”

She still loves to run and runs around Contra Loma at least once a week.

Smith attended Marsh Elementary “when Mr. Reed was principal,” she shared. She then attended Antioch   Junior High, when it had 7th, 8th and 9th grades, before it became the middle school. Smith continued the family tradition of attending Antioch High, “the home of the Panthers”, she said, proudly.

Her favorite subjects in high school were home ec, government and science.

“I loved being in jazz dance,” Smith said.

Health Care Career Begins

“After high school I became a nurse and fell in love with the seniors,” she shared. “I’ve always been in geriatrics, senior care.”

Smith specialized in pain management, working for a private practice doctor in Walnut Creek.

Then she became a community nurse at an assisted living facility in Brentwood.

“I just fell in love with it and knew this is the kind of nurse I was meant to be,” she said.

An LVN, for four years she was in charge of all the health care plans, assessing all the residents, supporting them in their day to day care, visiting them in the hospital, staying in contact with their doctors, and making sure their medications were correct, “to ensure a good quality of life,” said Smith.

Sonya Smith interacts with the residents.

Agemark Career Begins

She was then hired as the Assistant Director for the Agemark facility in Oakdale, California. That was short lived as she was then promoted to the Executive Director position three months later.

“I believe in the company and really believe in their values,” she shared. “So, it was really easy to jump on the team and go forward.”

“I think people in the healthcare industry get so task oriented that they forget about the person,” said Smith. “Our families, our residents have stories to share. They’ve been successful. We have veterans. They have done so much. We don’t see them as their diagnosis. We focus on the residents and the staff, as family.”

“That’s why I’m always here,” she said with a laugh.

Then, this year, she was offered the position at TreVista Antioch and began as Executive Director at the beginning of September.

Agemark, Owner of TreVista

The owner of TreVista is Agemark, based in Orinda. They currently own 21 properties, but they’re getting ready to break ground on five more properties.

The company’s first facility was in Vancouver, Washington. They have another location in Nebraska which is a renovated 1940’s hotel.

“It’s like a flash into the past,” Smith stated. “It’s so cool.”

“That’s what I love about AgeMark. They invest in their properties and some are original landmarks,” she said. “They save the buildings, rehab and give them a facelift and bring new life to them.”

They’re now coast to coast with another location in Maryland.

“It’s a smaller company in the industry, with     regards to the number of locations they own,” Smith shared. “We stay local and our philosophy is that we treat everyone like family. All of our facilities are intimate.”

Her daily responsibilities include ensuring her team provides their residents with the best quality of life. That includes their care needs, their dietary needs and most importantly, their social stimulation needs.

“We have happy hour, we go to the casinos, we go to the movies, we take them shopping. We let them try new things, like going to the beach, when weather permits,” Smith added.

There are over 80 staff members at the Antioch location, including her management team and line staff: servers, care givers, housekeeping and maintenance.

One of her managers is also the head chef, offering home-made, nutritional meals.

“You gotta have that home-style cooking, of course on the healthier side,” Smith said with a laugh.

“With our wellness department we also have two other nurses on staff to address the care needs of our residents,” she continued.

“I’m on the floor all the time. We have a resident council with regular meetings, which I attend when I’m invited in,” Smith said. “I think it’s important to be on the floor, to be visible. It goes back to our philosophy. Engaged in conversation, welcoming them.”

TreVista Antioch also has a dementia support unit, known as memory care.

TreVista Antioch is located on Lone Tree Way across from Sutter Delta Medical Center.

Community Involvement

Smith wants to help her residents enjoy their lives.

“We have one lady who wanted to ride a motorcycle. So, we made that happen,” she said. “That’s why I like working with Mary Chapman of An Elderly Wish Foundation. We sponsor their annual fundraising dinner.”

TreVista is also a member of the Antioch Chamber of Commerce as Silver Sponsors of the local business organization. Smith plans to be more involved, first as an Ambassador, then hopefully as a member of the board of directors.

“Now that I’m local, I really want to help with the community events, including the parades in downtown,” she said. “Our location in Oakdale won the Most Inspirational Float of the Oakdale Rodeo Parade.”

On the Personal Side

Smith is a big supporter of veterans and the military. Her son is a Marine serving as a diesel mechanic with one deployment under his belt, and her dad served 26 years in the Army and was a Captain in the infantry.

Her daughter is a cheerleader and is currently in high school.

For the Future

TreVista is in the process of adding a bistro where residents can grab a coffee or snack, plus a movie theater for residents to enjoy that kind of experience.

Soon they will become more high profile in the community

“My whole focus is to share our residents’ stories. They’ve had wonderful lives and want to invest that back into the community,” Smith said.

“The stereotype of what assisted living is, it’s not a place to go until you die. The misconception is that it’s the place where you’ve given up on life. But, it’s actually a new beginning. We’ve evolved because we know our residents need a support system in place. We get referred to as a standing cruise ship, where people go to live life.”

“We’re here to promote a healthy lifestyle, with the support and care to meet each individual resident’s needs,” she concluded.

To learn more about TreVista Antioch visit their website at www.trevista-antioch.com and their Facebook page, or call (925) 470-3395 to set up a tour. They’re located at 3950 Lone Tree Way in Antioch across from Sutter Delta Medical Center.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

the attachments to this post:


TreVista entrance


Sonya & residents


Sonya Smith waterfall


No Comments so far.

Leave a Reply