As a boy, when given the choice between religion classes or volunteering with senior citizens, Ryan Walsh often chose the latter. Later in life, as a sociology major at St. Norbert College, he made a similar choice, opting for an internship over a final exam in one class.
Ryan spoke of his formative years, his family today, and his career working in independent, assisted living and memory care communities during his classification talk at the Waunakee Rotary Club’s April 15 meeting.
Today, Ryan is executive director of Bright Star Assisted Living in Waunakee. A native of Chicago, he spoke of a time living in Seoul as one of the most impactful. He was 10 when the engineering company his father worked for was chosen to build  power plants in Seoul to accommodate the Olympics. The family moved there, and Ryan attended the Seoul International School with other children from around the world. The large Walsh family also traveled throughout Asia and to Australia.
After college, Ryan began working in senior living communities. In the three companies he has worked, the communities ranged from 30 apartments to 340. He’s been an activity director, assistant manager and for the last 10 years, executive director.
In a smaller setting, he said, you can really make an impact on the residents’ care and lives.  
He joined one smaller community, BrightStar Senior Care in 2020 after Jeff Tews and Susan Rather opened it in 2018. Bright Star began as a home care company, sending staff to residents’ homes. BrightStar has a higher standard of expectations and patient care, working to meet individual needs and preferences for diet, how rooms are set up and activities, Ryan said.
Joy, dignity, community and individuality are at the core of the care, and the staff accommodates the residents’ needs, some more substantial than others. As an example of joy, Ryan showed a picture of goats that invited to the property to manage the lawn and give a bit of show. A dog also comes to visit residents, whom the staff address as they wish to be called, rather than “sweetie” or “honey.”
Ryan is married, and he and his wife have a son. They enjoy spending time in Door County, biking and geocaching.
Over the years, Ryan had supervisors who belonged to Rotary clubs. When he joined BrightStar he wanted to join the Waunakee club, be part of the community and help. The view the Zoom recording of the meeting, visit: 
Passcode: V.D38gSY
Other news:
-Plans for WaunaFest are evolving, Jim Kattner reported. The Chamber is planning its own beer garden.
-A couple more people are needed for the spring cleanup April 17, as well as the Whitetails event at Rex’s. Masks will be required at that event. The next WaunaFest meeting is Monday.
-Make Music Day is June 21 around Waunakee. Hometown Pharmacy is planning to host a band, and the club will staff a food tent. The Create Waunakee committee is working on Make Music Day.
-The District conference starts Sunday and continues all week. Club President Tom Kennedy has emailed members a link to this and said there are some pretty entertaining speakers.
-The club has received six scholarship applications, Bob Arntz told the club, and will begin reviewing these.
Birthdays: April 24, Leonard Allen
Anniversaries: April 26, Sean and Holly Wayne; April 28, Scott and Melanie Cochems.