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Rianda House Senior Activity Center

Rianda House is located at 1475 Main St. in St. Helena and is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. For information, call 707-963-8555 or visit

Napa Valley is recognized worldwide for its incredible wine, food and scenic beauty. Closer to home, we know it’s just as famous for the generosity that helps make life better for our families, friends and neighbors.

As providers and promoters of an array of programs for older adults that span the Valley, Rianda House brings people and organizations of all sizes, shapes and colors into their fold to enhance the lives of those looking to live their best lives longer.

A great example of how such generous acts of partnership evolve comes from Judy Crabb, a former chaplain at St. Helena Hospital and member of The Haven Adventist Church in Deer Park. Knowing an important mission of the church is giving back to their communities, Judy approached Rianda House Executive Director Julie Spencer and asked, “How can we help?”

The timing was perfect. Rianda House was seeking $5,000 in funding to support PWR!Moves, a program designed to help people with Parkinson’s Disease, essential tremors and others increase strength, flexibility, coordination, balance and posture while enhancing emotional well-being.

Judy, who participates in Rianda House programs with her husband, did not waste a minute. Working her magic with the leadership of The Haven, Calistoga and St. Helena Seventh-day Adventist churches, Judy secured the full funding and the weekly programs in both St. Helena and Calistoga were revived and remain free to all. According to teacher Joan Comendant, “We’re thrilled we can continue being a local source for camaraderie and mutual support for individuals learning to cope with PD, essential tremors and balance issues. It’s a joy to see participants in the class build an important level of confidence and strength, both mentally and physically.”

In the southern end of the Valley, Rianda House promotes wellness programs that complement PWR!Moves for our friends with Parkinson’s Disease. In Napa, The Queen of the Valley’s Synergy Medical Fitness Center offers Rock Steady Boxing, an exercise program based on training used by professional boxers and adapted to people with Parkinson’s.

Available to men and women of all ages and levels of ability who have Parkinson’s Disease, Rock Steady is based on building relationships between participants, engaging in exercises that work to counteract muscular or coordination loss and minimizing isolation. According to Synergy coach Armando Gutierrez, “Classes are small and tailored to the needs of each individual to assure everyone has the best personal experience and our clients love it.”

For details and a program schedule, call Synergy Medical Fitness Center at (707) 251-1395.

Another local resource who recognizes the importance of compassion, education, understanding and positivity when it comes to managing neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s, is Joe Berger, of St. Helena’s Malloy Imrie & Vasconi Insurance Services.

Joe founded The Napa Young Onset Parkinson’s disease group after being diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s at age 49. Despite a plethora or Parkinson’s support groups in the Bay Area, Joe too often found they were inconvenient for someone still active, working and raising a family. With most people being diagnosed in their 60s and 70s, Parkinson’s takes on a different dimension for a 49-year-old.

Meeting at 3 p.m. on the fourth Sunday of each month at Napa’s Covenant Presbyterian Church, the group discusses issues and concerns around maintaining an active lifestyle, sharing information and providing support for each other and for family and friends. They also hold meetings for spouses and support providers and often have speakers, including representatives from the Michael J. Fox Foundation, a leading research and advocacy organization founded by the actor who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at the strikingly young age of 29.

For the past several years, Rianda House has offered an in-house monthly support group easily accessible to Upvalley individuals living with PD and their care partners. The Upvalley Parkinson’s group share support and resources and discuss the latest in research and treatments.

The group is currently on a short break while Rianda House is working to secure a new group facilitator. We are reaching out to the Parkinson’s Foundation and local professional partner to assist us in reinstating this important support group. For more information, call our Program Manager Elizabeth Cobb-Bruno at (707) 963-8555 ext., 103.

Neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s, Essential Tremors and more can be great challenges to adults of all ages in our community, but the generosity and caring that is integral to our Valley makes hope easier to come by for those dealing with these diagnoses. As supporters of all programs that promote a healthy, vibrant lifestyle, especially for older adults, Rianda House echoes Mr. Fox, who is still active and advocating at age 57, who believes that, “acceptance doesn’t mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and that there’s got to be a way through it.”

Editor’s Note: Julie Spencer is executive director and Sara Cakebread is communications consultant for Rianda House, which is located at 1475 Main St. in St. Helena. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. To reach us call 707-963-8555, ext. 101 or visit our website,, to view the monthly activity calendar.

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