Portraits capture Los Gatos seniors’ commitment to military, each other

Residents of Belmont Village Senior Living in Los Gatos celebrated their military service and their successful marriages March 19 with a photo shoot.

Six couples and 15 veterans sat for portraits with photographer Thomas Sanders, who has been shooting and interviewing residents at Belmont Village locations across the country since 2008. Their portraits will be featured permanently at the senior living community.

Carlene Motto, chief marketing officer for Belmont Village Senior Living, said residents and their friends and family members have been grateful for the recognition that comes with the photo shoots.

“They were so appreciative of acknowledging and really celebrating the veterans that lived with us,” she said.

Motto said oftentimes the photo shoot results in residents telling stories about their time in the military that their family members have never heard.

“It’s just a great opportunity to share with families, our own employees,” she said. “There’s real connection and appreciation, too, when our employees read just all the sacrifices that many of these veterans have made for each of us and our country.”

The photo shoot also included longtime couples who moved into Belmont Village together, and features interviews in which the couples offer their advice and insight into maintaining a long marriage.

“It’s a lot of just great advice that the generation today and kids could really learn from,” Motto said.

While the portraits from the shoot have a permanent place in Belmont Village centers, some portraits from the center’s Midwestern locations are featured at both Midway and O’Hare airports in Chicago, Motto said.

The project has even garnered the attention of national leaders such as Sen. John McCain, who contacted a Belmont Village center in Glenview, Ill., when he heard that a veteran and resident there had not received a medal for his service.

“He called one of our communities and said, ‘I heard one of your veterans didn’t get his medals and I’m coming personally to deliver them,’” Motto said.

Edward Gustafson, a new Belmont Village resident but longtime Los Gatos resident, reflected fondly on his time in the navy. Gustafson said the opportunity his service provided him to travel around the country and the world served him well, and that his family would be excited to see his portraits in the center.

“I think I learned a lot,” he said.” We learned that you can get ahead, but you have to work.”

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