Sande Esparza, Trisha Roman, and Alena Scandura are bringing our Housekeeping department up to the next level by becoming certified members of the International Executive Housekeepers Association (IEHA).

Each Housekeeping Supervisor attended an intensive two-day “bootcamp” course where they worked one-on-one with Michael Patterson, the association’s Executive Director, to learn 2,000 pages worth of material. The bootcamp was then followed by an exam that tested their knowledge of advanced housekeeping concepts such as chemistry, techniques, policies, and procedures.

Passing the exam earned them entrance into the association and is a mandatory step for those who wish to be a part of IEHA. “Now that we are certified members we have access to a wellspring of information,“ Trisha Roman said. “Anything we need to know from floor care to accounting practices to infection control, IEHA has the resources we would need to find those answers.”

IEHA places significant value on education. As certified members, Trisha, Sande, and Alena each must earn 30 Continuing Education Units ever two years in order to maintain their status. “I’ve realized how much there is still to learn and now have a better understanding of how we can make our operation run more efficiently,” Sande Esparza said.

Before earning their certifications, Trisha, Sande, and Elena did not have a formal background in upper level housekeeping management. “We all came into the Housekeeping department from different sectors,” Alena said. “We realized there was a gap of knowledge that was missing, so we looked into how we could educate ourselves.”
Now that the Housekeeping Department has three formally trained Supervisors, the base of knowledge that the department has to work off of is larger than ever.

With so many members all over the world, IEHA has expanded the department’s resource circle exponentially. “We now have access to 1,300 others who are doing the same thing as us and can compare experiences and share solutions,” Alena said. “We also have access to IEHA’s database, which we will use to reevaluate our practices and find more effective ways of doing things to benefit the company and our residents,” Sande said.

IEHA, formerly known as the National Executive Housekeepers Association (NEHA), was founded in 1930 by Margaret Barnes, a hospital nurse who saw the need for a more efficient way to keep places clean. On November 1, 1930, Barnes held the first meeting of executive housekeepers in New York City. Over the next few years, NEHA expanded and began having annual conferences and galas. In 1974, NEHA’s 320-hour education program was established.

NEHA went international in 2000 with the creation of the Aruba Chapter and officially changed its name to the International Executive Housekeepers Association (IEHA), what it is known as today. In 2016 the Boot Camp Road Show that our Supervisors took part in was launched, bringing in-person education to Executive Housekeepers all across the nation.

“We are so proud to be part of this organization, but we couldn’t have done it without the support of Plymouth Harbor,” Trisha said. Each of the Supervisors were awarded a $2,000 Foundation Scholarship to use towards the course fees, transportation, and lodging. “We are so grateful to the Foundation and its donors for this opportunity,” Trisha said.

“Trisha, Alena and Sande’s commitment to the Housekeeping department, the staff, and to Plymouth Harbor is evident by their efforts to increase their skills,” said Tena Wilson, Vice President of Resident and Employee Relations. “Certification of all Housekeeping supervisors through the IEHA is an important achievement – a first in Plymouth Harbor’s history. It is a pleasure and a privilege to work with this awesome team!”

At a recent Residents Meeting, our CEO Harry Hobson presented some perspective related to the physical improvements that are going on at Plymouth Harbor. He emphasized while this has been somewhat disruptive to our daily lives at times, it is an investment that will continue to pay dividends now and for generations to come. In a sit-down discussion following the meeting, Mr. Hobson explained how these projects are intended to positively impact resident lives.

Over the past 12 years, we have…

Created spaces that are modern, inviting, and appealing
An enjoyable environment is a key factor in loving where you live. Thanks to Plymouth Harbor’s Facilities and Design team our interior spaces are a beautiful mix of form and function. With a renovated lobby, entryway, performance hall, dining room, private dining room, cafe and restrooms; a restored East Garden lawn, pool and pool deck; and over 260 renovated apartments, every turn greets you with an appealing space to call home.

Increased our services and the quality of life of our residents
In 2014, the reimagination of the Wellness Center increased our fitness class offerings and upgraded our gym with state-of-the-art equipment that makes working out simple and accessible. In 2018, the Northwest Garden opened its doors, giving Plymouth Harbor the ability to care for those needing memory care in the thoughtfully designed Starr Residences. The addition of the Seaside Assisted Living Residences increased the number of assisted living accommodations from 10 to 60. We also have expanded our Rehab Department and created more on-campus parking.

Heightened the safety of our residents
With state-of-the-art fire alarm systems, upgraded Life Safety services, an enhanced nurse call system, and the replacement of our emergency generator, our residents can take a deep breath knowing that emergency safety measures are in place.

Ensured our building is maintained, secure and safe
The Plymouth Harbor Tower has been a Sarasota icon for over 50 years, due in part to the proper care we take of our structure. We have replaced our emergency generator, HVAC pumping system, chilled water system, main dining air handling, floor tiles, and ceilings. We have also updated our electrical system, repaired the seawall, re-roofed the Tower and East Garden, restored the building exterior, and performed capital maintenance in the Smith Care Center. The result? Plymouth Harbor’s building has aged with grace. In fact, although it may be 55 years old on paper, in practice it is only 8.5 years old according to the Generally Accepted Accounting Practices.

Improved work spaces to help staff stay happy and healthy
We could not do what we do without our incredible staff, and we strive to create environments that allow them to excel. We have renovated the main kitchen, expanded the Smith Care Center laundry, replaced the main kitchen air conditioner, and renovated the Ground Floor laundry, ensuring that our valued employees have clean, safe, and comfortable spaces to work in.

Helped our establishment and our residents stay better connected
As the world went digital, so did we. To make sure that our residents, staff, and stakeholders are always dialed in, we installed wireless internet and a new telephone system throughout our buildings. No matter where you go on campus, rest assured that you are never more than a call away from your friends and family.

Learned that conservation and safety can go hand-in-hand
As we move into 2020 you will experience a safer and more energy-efficient environment with the installation of brand-new hurricane windows throughout the campus. The installation of new elevators in the Tower will improve the experience of being transported from one floor to another.

We have spent the past 12 years investing in our campus, our services, and our future. Thank you for your patience as we make these improvements. We look forward to continuing to provide you with a community that cares about your present and future wellbeing.

When the Wellness Center was renovated in 2014, one area was left untouched— the indoor therapy pool room. When Summer Rentsch, Director of Wellness, joined the Plymouth Harbor team, it was one of her goals to enhance the look and feel of the indoor therapy pool room and bring it up to the level of excellence which the rest of the Wellness Center enjoys. “The wall seemed to be staring back at me saying ‘make me beautiful,’” Summer said. “With the art displayed in the Wellness Corridor, the idea for a painted mural came to mind!”

When one visits the Wellness Center, they are greeted with scenic bay views through floor-to-ceiling windows, so it only seemed natural to bring those same views into the design of the mural. “I knew I wanted the mural to look as natural as possible, and after speaking with multiple artists it was clear that continuing the look of the horizon with a beach scene would blend best,” Summer said.

Once the concept was decided upon, the search for the artist began. After much research on local muralists and their work through the website Thumb Tack, Summer found Gregg LaBrecque and scheduled a consultation. “When Gregg presented Tena Wilson, VP of Resident and Employee Relations, and me with the hand-painted rendering, our jaws dropped and we instantly looked at each other and knew he was the one for the job,” Summer said.

The space was primed for Gregg to begin his work, and over the span of two weeks a beautiful, realistic and detailed scene appeared on the therapy pool wall. “I could not be happier with how it turned out,” Summer said. “It brings a smile to my face at the start of each day when I walk into work, and I feel that the space is now a much more conducive environment for healing.”

Upon the completion of the wall, Gregg left us with some touching parting words: “I was honored and thrilled to be selected by Plymouth Harbor to execute the mural in the therapy pool room. Every aspect of the job and the process exceeded my expectations. I am grateful to all who embraced the project and the outcome and for the positive feedback I received, but more so for the wonderful people I met during the project. All of the residents were so supportive and so engaging, and the staff and management always made me feel so welcome. This was and will always be more than just another job to me. Sincere thanks to all my new friends at Plymouth Harbor!”

The mural is the latest addition in the Carmichael Art Collection, begun when former resident and artist Ruth Carmichael left a permanently restricted fund at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County for Plymouth Harbor. We remain grateful for Ruth’s legacy gift, allowing residents and staff to be inspired each day with exquisite art here at Plymouth Harbor.

If you haven’t had a chance to see the new mural, take a walk down to the Wellness Center. Seeing the wall will make you feel as if you’re just steps away from the sea and sand. Although you can’t get there through the painted path, lucky for us we are just minutes away from the real thing!

The Plymouth Harbor Foundation awards scholarships annually to employees and their children who are seeking to further their education. This year we were able to award scholarships to the following 14 individuals, thanks to the more than 100 generous donors who have made gifts over the last few years to support their pursuit of higher education and professional development.

Melissa Berthold, Residents Association Scholarship
Melissa has been a Server in Plymouth Harbor’s Mayflower Café for over four years, juggling work and college at the same time. She is using her scholarship for further studies at the State College of Florida in preparing herself to become a Dental Hygienist.

Sandra Esparza, Plymouth Harbor Foundation Scholarship
Sande first joined Plymouth Harbor in Dining Services back in 2007. After a few promotions, Sande desired a management role and in 2017 was selected as Housekeeping Supervisor. Sande will use her scholarship to acquire the International Executive Housekeepers Association Professional Education Credentialing Program. This certification will allow her to further advance her career.

Christina Flanary, Bruce B. Crawford and Joan P. Sheil Scholarship, Alida de Jongh Scholarship
Christina is a busy single mother who is in her second year working towards obtaining her RN-Associates degree from the State College of Florida. She also works full time in the evenings at Blake Medical Center in monitoring and safety. She once worked at Plymouth Harbor as a Candy Striper! Christina’s mother is Liz Clark, who is Plymouth Harbor’s Administrator of Home Care.

Sandra Franca, Bea Davis Memorial Scholarship
Sandra is a Laundry Aide in Health Services at Plymouth Harbor. While researching herbal remedies to complement her health care plan, Sandra sought to educate herself about nutrition. She is using the scholarship to obtain a Master Herbalist and Aromatherapist Certification and hopes to learn what natural products will help support, rebalance and restore vitality for optimum well-being.

Hayden Menzies, Jeannette Gehrie Music Scholarship
Hayden is an 8th grade student at the Sarasota School of Arts and Science. She continues taking music lessons at Sam Ash Music on the alto sax and trombone. Hayden is the daughter of Danielle Menzies, who works as Plymouth Harbor’s Operations Manager of Dining Services.

Kate Meyer, Jane T. Smiley Scholarship
Kate is a freshman at Florida State University in Tallahassee pursuing a degree in criminology and pre-law. She would like to work initially as a criminal profiler and if she advances on to attend law school, then become a criminal prosecuting attorney. She is the daughter of Joy Meyer, who is the Health Services Operations Coordinator at Plymouth Harbor.

Stephen Moros, Doyle Scholarship
Stephen is our Human Resources Recruiter. He has his undergraduate degree in Finance and is using his scholarship to further his education by obtaining a Master’s Degree in Data Analytics from St. Louis University in Missouri online.

Trisha Roman, Plymouth Harbor Foundation Scholarship
Trisha is the Operations Supervisor for Plymouth Harbor’s thriving Housekeeping Department and has worked here for a total of four years. Trisha also oversees the Environmental Technician staff. Trisha is using her scholarship to acquire the International Executive Housekeepers Association Professional Education Credentialing Program. This certification will assist her in furthering her career in the hospitality field.

Sarah Osoria Ruiz, Gaylord Family Nursing Scholarship
Sarah began working at Plymouth Harbor as a CNA then as an LPN in Plymouth Harbor’s Smith Care Center. She is married and the mother two girls. She is using her scholarship towards the LPN-RN Transition program at the State College of Florida.

Alexander Ruiztagle, Collinsworth Scholarship
Alexander is in his junior year at the University of Central Florida where he is double majoring in computer science and mathematics. Alexander created a Coding Boot Camp for young children and is currently a software engineer intern at Universal Studios. After graduation, Alex hopes to make his way to Silicon Valley and work in the Artificial Intelligence field. He is the son of Luz Ruiztagle, who is an LPN for Plymouth Harbor.

Carolina Ruiztagle, Charleen Sessions Scholarship
Carolina is heading into her final semester at University of South Florida in Tampa and will be graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. She currently volunteers at the Moffitt Cancer Center. She hopes to attend graduate school in Boston and pursue a Master’s Degree, which she will use to help treat those with anxiety, ADHD, Autism and PTSD. Carolina is the daughter of Luz Ruiztagle who is an LPN for Plymouth Harbor.

Alena Scandura, Plymouth Harbor Foundation Scholarship
Alena joined Plymouth Harbor in 2017 as a Housekeeping Supervisor. Alena previously worked as Coordinator of Student Activities at New College. She has her BS in Exercise Physiology and Biology and her Master’s in Exercise Physiology. She will use her scholarship to acquire the International Executive Housekeepers Association Professional Education Credentialing Program, which will then enable her to take the Registered Environmental Services Executive exam.

Corey Schmitz, Veronica Holak Barton Scholarship
Corey is a familiar face at Plymouth Harbor, having worked as a server in the Smith Care Center and as a Mayflower Café bartender/server for many years. Corey is a registered CNA and is using the scholarship to obtain a Licensed Practical Nurse certificate, a year-long program at Suncoast Technical College.

Nathan Stotler, Evelin Corsey Scholarship
Nathan is in pursuit of becoming a Physical Therapist. He will be using this scholarship money to complete his last general education course for his Associates degree at State College of Florida, where he also plays soccer. He then hopes to continue his schooling and transfer to a university to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Therapy. Nathan is also a Fit Specialist working at Happy Feet right here in downtown Sarasota. He is the son of Kay Stotler, who works at Plymouth Harbor as a CNA.

On June 4, 2019, The Rev. Dr. Jack A. Smith passed away in the very building that was named after him: The Smith Care Center.

He graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a degree in finance and then went on to attend the Oberlin Graduate School of Theology and Vanderbilt University where he earned his doctorate degree. Before coming
to Plymouth Harbor, he was a business owner.

The Rev. Dr. Smith became the second Administrator of
Plymouth Harbor in 1972. A former minister in the Florida Conference of the United Church of Christ, The Rev. Dr. Smith also had a business degree and administrative experience. During that time, Plymouth Harbor was struggling to keep pace with rising costs of operation and existing resident contracts contained clauses restricting increases in fees. In an impressive show of devotion, The Rev. Dr. Smith, trustees, and residents raised enough money to save Plymouth Harbor and get it back on solid financial footing. If it weren’t for him, Plymouth Harbor very well may not have made it to the present day.

Prior to the Smith Care Center, Plymouth Harbor had a small infirmary located on the second floor of the Tower, where the Callahan Center is now, with 43 beds in 14 rooms. In 1988, the North Garden was built and the infirmary was moved into the new, improved space and renamed the Health Center. It was later renamed again the Plymouth Harbor Health and Rehabilitation Center to more fully describe its capabilities. At its 40th anniversary celebration, the center underwent a final name change in recognition of the former Executive Director and became The Jack A. Smith Care Center.

In 1989, The Rev. Dr. Smith retired after 18 years as Administrator, however he returned as interim CEO in 2004 during the year before Harry Hobson came aboard. The Rev. Dr. Smith has left his legacy at Plymouth Harbor, and we are grateful to have had him as part of our story.