fall cleaningEverybody knows about spring cleaning.  Fall, however, may be a better time for cleaning since for many of us the year starts after summer and the hurricane season leaves us.

Of course, for Plymouth Harbor residents who hail from the more northern parts of our country, Fall cleaning conjures images of colored leaves collecting on the lawn and in the gutters. Yard work, lots of it, came on the heals of the bright fall colors. However, retirement years, particularly those in Sarasota, Florida don’t include much time with a rake in your hands. And at Plymouth Harbor, yard work is entirely a thing of the past, unless you enjoy tending your own garden.

Instead, Fall has other chores that seem to make sense.  Fall is good for throwing stuff out, all that stuff you have been collecting ever since you moved in.  There are some easy ways to get rid of your discards.

Think about your file cabinet.  How many outdated records do you have?  Those pounds of paper and their folders can go straight to the Recycling Bin.  If some are too private, there is the shredder in our Business Office near the mailboxes.

Old, dead batteries sitting around?  If they are marked with a letter (AA, AAA, C, D, etc.) they go straight to the trash and down the chute.  Batteries without a letter marking and all hearing aid batteries get special handling. They go to Audrey in the Maintenance Office on the ground floor.  Your housekeeper will take them there, if you ask her.

And your unused medicines, prescription or otherwise.  They are rather dangerous to keep around, some of them.  We all know they should not go into the toilet.  The A#1 place for them?  Take them to those great nurses in the Callahan Center.  They are disposing of their unused meds.  They will dump yours in with theirs.

And that chic skirt that makes you look fat?  The appliance that works but you do not need two?  To our handy dandy Fund Shop!  You know where it is — across from the Security Office in the East Garden Garage.

Whatever is not saleable here (would you buy it?) — off to Goodwill!!

Does it not make your life easier to be rid of that stuff?  The only question is “Can you resist the urge to fill up those shelves all over again?”

senior living sarasotaPlymouth Harbor is a remarkable facility, and I hope to be able to contribute in some small way to promoting innovative and active living for its residents, their families and the wonderful staff.

- Rebecca Levy-Sachs
  Plymouth Harbor Foundation
  Trustee, Community-at-Large

Rebecca Levy-Sachs is a St. Petersburg-based attorney who has practiced in the area of first-party coverage and litigation for thirty-five years. Ms. Sachs is a regularly recognized lecturer and author of programs presented by the Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel, the Property Loss Research Bureau, the Loss Executives Association, the ABA Property Insurance Committee and the Windstorm Association. She has been elected as a fellow of the American Bar Foundation, named to the Bar Register of Preeminent Women Lawyers by Martindale-Hubbell™, named as one of Florida’s Super Lawyers in Insurance Coverage, and named to the Sarasota and Manatee Counties and the Tampa Bay Top Lawyers lists for the past three years.

Rebecca and her husband Frank are avid boaters who live on Bird Key and are members of the Bird Key Yacht Club.  They have three sons, and six grandchildren ranging from 18 to 8.

BelchersBy  Isabel Pedersen

Writing about Marie and Tom Belcher is challenging, particularly because their responses to our questions were so gracefully written and so complete.  Insofar as possible, we will be using  their words.

Tom, born in Los Angeles, grew up moving often with the Navy assignments of the uncle and aunt who raised him. After four years in the Air Force during the Korean War, he enrolled at San Francisco State College, graduating in business administration with a concentration in insurance.  Later, he completed a five-year program leading to the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter designation.

From college, Tom joined Aetna Life and Casualty Company and spent 35 years in positions ranging from trainee to an “eight-year stint as Vice President of Aetna International,” traveling and, at times, living around the world.  He sat on the boards of companies in Chile, Spain and Australia.

Marie grew up in Buffalo as the middle child of a thoracic surgeon, from a large Brooklyn Lebanese family.  He and her mother, a nurse anesthetist, served near the front lines in Africa, Italy and France in WWII.

Marie’s study at the State University of New York in Buffalo ended in 1969 with a B.S. with Distinction in industrial relations and finance, plus an election to Beta Gamma Sigma.   “In 1969, there was still a bias against women in management in the corporate world” so she began her career at Aetna in the mailroom looking for files for unmatched mail.  “Someone recognized me being mismatched in my unmatched mail assignment and asked about my career goal.  I replied, ‘to be president of the company’.  Well, needless to say, that didn’t happen, but when I left Aetna in 1991, I was Vice President for Property-Casualty Underwriting.”  Marie, after Aetna, became senior vice-president of another insurance company and then went on to develop an executive search firm specializing in senior financial positions which she and Tom (retired from Aetna in 1996) enjoyed running until they closed it in 2001, fortuitously just before 9/11.  Volunteering and then working with a local author and philanthropist and running a private foundation filled the time until 2010, her final retirement.

“Some say you must kiss a few frogs before you find your prince, and my prince came into my life in 1989, when Tom and I moved from friend stage to romance.  We had known each other for 15 years in business, but the world for both of us had changed, and in 1990 we were married.  Tom arrived with two wonderful children, Andrew and Susan.  Andrew was still afraid of monsters, ran like the wind and baked cookies with me.  After living with us for a year, Susan went off to find herself.”  She found herself in Eugene, OR, where she still lives with her husband and son, running two small businesses.  Since Tom’s son is in the restaurant business in Portland, the Belchers settled into their own condo in Portland for the summer months.

Their local lives include St. Thomas More Church and, for fun, tennis, golf (badly, says Tom), fishing, bridge, wellness activities, travel and for Marie, add to these fibre arts and painting.  We just hope this busy pair will leave some time for Plymouth Harbor.  It will be fun to get to know them.

Harry and NancyHarry Hobson can count to ten as well as the next person and certainly it must have occurred to him that 2014 marked his 10th year anniversary serving as Plymouth Harbor’s President and CEO.  Nonetheless, when Mary Allyn rose to recognize this anniversary with a tribute at the Board of Trustees meeting last month, he was caught totally off guard.  What’s more, he was just as surprised when she repeated the tribute at the most recent Residents Association Board meeting. On both occasions, Harry says he felt humbled by, yet deeply appreciative of the honor.  For the past decade, Plymouth Harbor has benefited from the leadership of a remarkable man and the warmth and fellowship of his equally remarkable partner and wife, Nancy.

“Ten years ago, Nancy and I did our full due diligence prior to making the life-changing decision to leave our home in Virginia and move to Sarasota. We learned that Plymouth Harbor was not only a wonderful community to serve, but that it had so much more potential to reach what it is today.  And now, there is even more potential looking to the future.”

Imagine the exhilaration of these years during which there has been a great deal of change. The thought of the work can be tiring, yet Harry notes “Ten years later, I am just as excited to get out of bed to come to Plymouth Harbor as I was in 2004.”

He and Nancy discovered early on that Plymouth Harbor’s location may be the hook that brings you in, but it’s the people who keep you here—residents and staff.

“One thing that solidifies my feelings about Plymouth Harbor,” he adds, “is the strength of the relationships we have built and continue to maintain between staff, residents, and our Board of Trustees.”

The entire community has had fun with Harry, a CEO who is not above a laugh at his own expense.  For several years running, he has adopted the name “Barry Dobson” for the annual Plymouth Harbor Players production that pokes playful fun at the community of “Puritan Cove.”   He says the thing that makes him nervous each year is knowing that Play Director and resident Don Wallace requires that he audition for the part of the Executive Director of the fictitious retirement community.  Harry says with a smile that being the real CEO doesn’t make it a shoe-in that he gets the part in the annual play.

Harry is also quick to point out the true sense of teamwork exhibited throughout the development of the new Wellness Center—from resident vision to Board of Trustees moving forward to the staff to bring the vision to reality.

“You don’t have to be on campus very long to feel that sense of community. Whether embracing a project, celebrating a special occasion, resolving a complex issue, or enduring the inevitable bumps along the way, the sharp minds of everyone at Plymouth Harbor pull together for the greater good.”

Hobson testimonial


donate a bicycleDo you remember when you bought a new bicycle for your daughter because she outgrew the old one?  But the old one wasn’t really that old, and there were so many good memories of it rolling down the hill as your daughter learned how to ride it.  Or remember when you went in search of THE BEST VIOLIN EVER for your son, only to find that he played it for one year and then decided to switch to band instead of orchestra?

What did you do with that old bicycle and violin?  I’ll bet you didn’t throw it away.  I’ll bet you gave it away to the next person that was searching for the BEST EVER.  Remember how good you felt when you knew you had made someone’s day?

Recently Plymouth Harbor helped make the day of many people by donating formerly used items that were being replaced during renovations and equipment upgrades.

The Boys & Girls Club was extremely happy to receive the ballet barres, exercise mats, and a treadmill from the former fitness room.

All Faiths Food Bank will receive the Dinex insulated tableware from the Smith Care Center when it is soon replaced.

Treviso Restaurant at The Ringling was grateful to receive an Alto-Shaam food warmer when we replaced it this year with new equipment.

Thanks to Chris Valuck, Rene Weder, and Danielle Menzies for identifying that these items had more life in them, finding them a new home, and making someone’s day!

Wellness Florida Retirement Community

Staff work with residents Jeanne Manser and Geri Johnson to assess gait and balance functionality.

The Health Services Team hosted an open house recently at Plymouth Harbor to highlight the wide breadth of Therapy Services available to residents and community members in this continuing care retirement community.

The Open House provided residents with a glimpse of both the therapy and nursing services offered to them. Physical, Occupational and Speech therapies showcased a diverse and energetic approach to rehabilitation and the spectrum they have to offer the residents. Nursing services from the skilled nursing center, assisted living, and home care  provided blood pressure screenings and insight to the total package of caring individuals within their building. The focus of this Open House was to address the “One Stop Shopping” for meeting their healthcare needs at Plymouth Harbor.

“We decided to do this in a fun, expo-like format, so that our residents would have a good time while getting to know the breadth of services that are available to them here,” says Joe Devore, Vice President of Health Services.  “Some of our residents are not aware that full therapy services are right here at Plymouth Harbor for their convenience.”

The entire room was buzzing during the afternoon as residents visited station after station to assess their own functional levels in balance, cognitive memory recall, endurance, and even blood pressure.  Residents could also sign up to volunteer in the Smith Care Center if they have interest.

Many residents came out to the Open House to learn more about the therapy services offered.  Visitors could register to win the drawing for a gift basket.

Many residents came out to the Open House to learn more about the therapy services offered. Visitors could register to win the drawing for a gift basket.

Staff in occupational, speech, and physical therapy led the balance, endurance, and memory cognition assessments.  Greg Carvajal, who works with our therapists and led part of the assessments, added, “We are looking for fall risks and functional deficits during these assessments. If we detect any here, we can recommend that they follow up with the staff at a later date, and hopefully avoid serious injury.”

Gina Kanyha, Director of Rehabilitation Services at the Smith Care Center, hopes to introduce the residents to the therapy staff.  “Our goal was to bring the faces of the team to all residents and let them know who we are and that we are there for them.  This also gives us an opportunity to showcase the services we can offer.”

Also available during the open house was staff from the Smith Care Center, Home Health Services, and Assisted Living.  “We are here to provide services for our residents and building that relationship early, even before they ever need our health services makes it so much more comfortable for all of us when and if the need arises,” said Stacy Baker, Director of Nursing Home Health.

By Susan K. Johnson

Plymouth Harbor Sarasota Active Senior living FloridaAs soon as I talked with Susan on the telephone to make an appointment, I knew I was going to meet someone special, and when I rang the doorbell, I was greeted by an exciting and attractive woman who waved me into a colorful apartment decorated with her paintings, photographs and custom furniture on which she has painted Impressionist art scenes.  Her apartment is a must-see!

Susan was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA.  At 18, she headed west to the University of Colorado in Boulder, graduating with an art major and a journalism minor.  During the 60’s, she modeled and appeared in TV commercials in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

In the 70’s, she broke into the TV broadcasting field at the NBC affiliate in San Diego, hosting a daily live talk show, “You’re On” — similar to the Phil Donahue show — interviewing famous people, such as Gerald Ford, Billy Graham, Maya Angelou and Ansel Adams.  Next, on to a show at KRON-TV in San Francisco and then back to Los Angeles to co-anchor news at KTLA-TV.         In the 80’s, a job took Susan to Aspen, CO, but that company folded quickly.  “I found that I wanted to make a life in this charming mountain village,” she says, “so I picked up my paintbrush and started a new business I called Furniture As Art, where furniture and walls were my canvas.”

After an 18-year stint decorating furniture and feeling “burnt out,” theater caught her eye and she co-founded a resident theater company in Aspen called the Hudson Reed Ensemble, “producing and acting and wearing many hats” for six years.

“HAVE I GOT A STORY FOR YOU!” is a brochure about the latest career chapter in Susan’s life.  She is a professional Story Reader, and if you go on her website, haveigotastory.com (which I did), you learn that she custom-designs a mélange of short stories, poems, passages and letters from, by and about famous or unconventional people to entertain at parties, fundraisers and other gatherings.

More recently, Susan has been living in Denver, but last winter she stayed on Lido Key, fell in love with Sarasota and its plethora of activities and culture and decided to move to Plymouth Harbor.  She says she is thrilled to be a part of this vibrant community.  Susan enjoys travel, tennis, bike riding and walking her little brown dog, Moki.  She loves working with kids; “literacy is a passion over the years that I will continue here with students at Bay Haven School.”

We welcome Susan and look forward to her presenting a program of “Story Reads” to us as well as to seeing her art displays.  Her creativity, charm and warmth are an asset to our community.

Charles EdwardsCharles Edwards is a world traveler and keen observer of the human condition wherever he is. One glance at the dozens and dozens of research papers that fill Dr. Edwards’ curriculum vitae is to understand that his professional life has been filled with cutting-edge scholarship and collaboration with a host of international scientists, but even a brief conversation with him will make it equally plain that he is a modest, gracious, and enthusiastic raconteur, comfortable talking about history, politics, art, and music, effortlessly pulling up pertinent names, dates, and facts.

Dr. Charles Edwards grew up in Hyattsville, Maryland, the youngest of three children. His father was a grocer whose early death propelled his mother into the workplace. Charles was drawn to mathematics at an early age, and began his education at The Johns Hopkins University studying engineering, but ended up majoring in biophysics. His undergraduate degree from Hopkins would be the first of three degrees he would earn from that institution; he received his Ph.D. there in 1953. While at Hopkins, he met his wife Lois, then a student at Baltimore’s Goucher College. As Dr. Edwards remembers it, he saw a friend “talking to a pretty girl” at a lacrosse game. When he walked over and asked her her name, she refused to tell him, but their romance would blossom when he was hospitalized with tuberculosis and Lois became a faithful visitor, traveling by streetcar “to the end of the line” to encourage his speedy recovery.
An opportunity to do post-graduate research in London provided the introduction to what would become a lifelong love of British and European art, and would be the first of many times the couple would cross the world’s oceans and become familiar with many foreign lands, including Japan, Sweden, Mexico, England, and Czechoslovakia. The first of their four children was born while they were living in London.

Following London, the Edwards family returned to Baltimore, where Charles continued to do research at Hopkins. The family moved to Utah for two years, and then to Minnesota, where Dr. Edwards taught physiology at the University of Minnesota Medical School for seven years. He then moved to the Department of Biological Sciences at the State University of New York at Albany, where he taught undergraduates and supervised laboratory research for 17 years. From Albany Dr. Edwards worked for several years at the National Institutes of Health before wrapping up his career in academia as Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Affairs in the College of Medicine at the University of South Florida. He retired from USF in 1989.

It was in 1980, while he was at SUNY-Albany, when Dr. Edwards decided to work at the Institute of Physiology in Prague under the United States’ National Academy of Sciences-Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences exchange program. Dr. Edwards recalls his time in Communist-controlled Prague and the people he met there with great fondness, though he characterizes the country as “very isolated” in the pre-Velvet Revolution years. He recalls how the Communist Party exercised very tight control over the professional lives of his fellow researchers: for those not members of the Party, a successful academic career was difficult. International travel to the West was not easy for Party members; for non-Party members, it was nearly impossible. As one Czech friend put it: “We live in a golden cage.” In addition to his colleagues, both he and Lois got to know a number of young Czechs, who were eager to work on their English. The Edwardses enjoyed art, concerts, and traveling through the country in a French-built and licensed car, which he characterizes as a “magnet” for the police.
Dr. Edwards vividly remembers the building and the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, and notes that it was television that made the demise of Soviet-controlled countries inevitable, since the East Germans could see for themselves via the (banned) West German and Austrian television that life in the West was not at all the bleak existence portrayed by their government.
Dr. and Mrs. Edwards first learned of Plymouth Harbor when friends moved in. They had commuted back and forth between Sarasota and New York City for many years, but the burden of looking after a house became too much for them, and they moved into Plymouth Harbor in 2005. Dr. Edwards sees living in Plymouth Harbor as a “gift” to both their children and to themselves because “life is very convenient here.” He lists the services and amenities with obvious pleasure: first class dining, fitness classes, trips to concerts and theaters, programs featuring local leaders, concerts, and the regular showings of popular movies. Plymouth Harbor, he says, is full of “remarkable people.” The Edwardses have been active members of the Plymouth Harbor community, serving on many committees, including the Health, Dining, Civic Affairs, Housekeeping, and Hospitality committees. Dr. Edwards also leads the Low Vision Support Group.

Following the pattern of their lives, Dr. and Mrs. Edwards continue to be engaged with young people. Both volunteer regularly—she, helping second graders at Booker Elementary with their reading, and he, for the past 15 years, teaching science to fifth graders at Gulf Gate Elementary. He has brought strategy games into the classroom, hoping to excite the young people about math. “Math means thinking,” he says firmly. Not a surprising attitude from a man who admits, with a twinkle in his eye, that he still adds up the digits on license plates. Dr. Edwards has also been a positive force for the health of Sarasota’s environment. In 2012 he was the recipient of the Blue Dolphin Award in recognition of his contribution to the Citizens Advisory Committee of the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program.

In May of this year Dr. and Mrs. Edwards, with their son and daughter-in-law, returned to the Czech Republic, where Dr. Edwards was awarded the Laufberger Medal from the Czech Physiological Society, “in recognition of his scientific excellence and contribution to the enhancement of international scientific collaboration.” Dr. Edwards found the contrast between life in the former Czechoslovakia and the new Czech Republic easy to see and hear. Nowadays, he says, Prague is “full of Americans, everyone speaks English, and the streets are full of foreign made cars.” A Soviet-made tank, which had been painted pink during the Velvet Revolution, has disappeared.
The medal ceremony, which marked the 50th anniversary of the Institute, where he had worked, was very memorable for Dr. Edwards: “There was one hour, twenty-nine minutes of people speaking Czech, and exactly one minute of English,” he laughs. “That minute was when they were speaking about me.”