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.

Beth Watson is a native Rhode Islander who comes to us with more than two decades of fundraising experience. Beth graduated from Rhode Island College with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and has continued her education at various other institutions including Merrimack College, Emerson College, and Harvard University. Upon graduation, she secured a position at USA Today. She spent six years there bettering her writing, presenting, advertising, and sales skills. It was at this job that she was inspired to pursue career opportunities in the non-profit sector.

In 1988 Beth accepted the role of Director of Marketing and Public Relations at the Providence Public Library. Over the next 12 years, Beth advanced the library’s visibility and assisted in her first fundraising project. Together with the Director of Development and Board, Beth helped organize a $2 million capital campaign.

In 2001 Beth took a step back from full-time work to care for her father who had been diagnosed with ALS. During this time, she began working to help launch Rhode Island’s only children’s bereavement center called Friends Way. She considers this project “one of her most significant contributions.”

In 2005 she returned to work full-time as the Director of Development and Communications for Children’s Friend and Services, then as the Director of Institutional Advancement for Redwood Library, and most recently as Director of Mission Advancement for the Sisters of Mercy, a group of Roman Catholic women committed to serving and advocating for those in need.

Throughout her professional life, Beth has employed a four-tiered philosophy: communication, expectations, accessibility, and accountability. Both her professional and personal experience have shaped her into someone who is deeply committed to helping others, and she feels “honored to continue to articulate a faith-based vision and mission for Plymouth Harbor and its donors, bracing them for future, sustainable growth for generations to come.”

Beth has two children. Her son is a boat-builder, and her daughter recently graduated and is now a Physician’s Assistant with plans to specialize in Women’s health and surgery. One of her favorite quotes is from the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus “The art of living well and the art of dying well are one.” In her free time, Beth enjoys gardening, yoga, and paddle boarding. Please join us in welcoming Beth aboard our team!

A new Administrator of Assisted Living and Memory Care has been chosen, and she is no stranger to Plymouth Harbor. Congratulations, Brandi Burgess!

With a degree in Sociology and Psychology from the College of William and Mary, Brandi started working at Plymouth Harbor in 1999 as an activities coordinator. She also helped manage the social services in the Smith Care Center. When the SCC was opened up to the community, Brandi moved into the role of Admissions and Marketing Coordinator and helped Plymouth Harbor earn a reputation for being not only a great retirement community, but also an excellent skilled nursing and rehab center. She worked as Plymouth Harbor’s social worker and the Positive Approach® to Care educator before being asked to step into the role of Interim Administrator of Assisted Living and Memory Care.

“Over the last five months, Brandi has lead by example and worked effectively with residents, family members, staff, and contractors to help our Seaside Assisted Living and Starr Memory Care Residence complete a successful first full year of operation,” said Joe Devore, Senior Vice President of Health Services.

Now, after completing her Assisted Living Facility regulatory training and earning her license, she officially takes on her role of Administrator of Assisted Living, the Seaside and the Starr Memory Care Residences.

“As we began our search for an Administrator for Assisted Living and Memory Care, we profiled a professional who had all of the credentials required, coupled with the strong organizational, leadership, and interpersonal skills necessary to administer our Positive Approach® to Care philosophy,” said Harry Hobson, CEO. “We identified Brandi early on as THAT person and so much more. We know Brandi’s heart aligns with our Plymouth Harbor mission, and we are so pleased to see Brandi move into this important leadership position.”

“I am grateful for the support of my husband, Warren, who takes such good care of our family while I have taken on more responsibilities here,” Brandi said. “I am proud and blessed to be a part of what I believe will be the premier Assisted Living and Memory Care home in the Southeast.”

On January 30, Plymouth Harbor will be seeing snow for the first time since 2015, but not the cold, white kind that falls from the sky. Teepa Snow, a leading educator on dementia, will be on campus to teach residents, staff, board members, and community partners about dementia and her Positive Approach™ to Care.

As an occupational therapist with more than 30 years of clinical experience in the field of dementia, Teepa has become an advocate for those with dementia. She has made it her mission to help people better understand what it is like to live with the challenges that accompany the condition and to change the way people think about it.

In 2005, she founded her own company, the Positive Approach™ to Care, to teach people how to effectively and compassionately work with those living with neurocognitive degeneration. The Positive Approach™ to Care (PAC) uses the GEMS® States model for brain change, Teepa’s own creation that focuses on retained abilities instead of those that are lost. “Rewiring our own perceptions, attitudes, communication strategies, actions, and responses provides the shift that promotes change for others around us,” says Teepa on her website. Through the PAC and using the GEMS® States model, she now educates family and professional care providers across the world, but mainly in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K.

“Snow Day,” as we like to call her visit, will span from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., allowing Teepa time with all members of our Plymouth Harbor community so that we can all learn how to better care for those with dementia. Teepa will have specific sessions dedicated to each of our constituents, beginning with staff, caregivers, and area partners, then residents and Harbor Club members, and finally our board members.

This year, we have combined “Snow Day” with our annual Doyle Trust Lecture, and she will serve as the annual event’s keynote speaker. “We are very proud to bring Teepa here for the inaugural Doyle Trust Lecture,” says Becky Pazkowski, Senior Vice President of Philanthropy. “The Doyles were residents here and I’d imagine would be very pleased to know that care for all kinds of conditions, including dementia, has expanded over the years. With their legacy, we are able to offer an even broader educational opportunity.”

Teepa has visited Plymouth Harbor once before in March of 2015, before the Northwest Garden Building was built, for our first “Snow Day.” This time around, in addition to speaking to our residents and staff, Teepa will tour the Starr Memory Care Residence. We are excited to show her the supportive, state-of-the-art environment created for our residents thanks to the careful thought and ingenuity of the Plymouth Harbor team and THW, the architectural and design firm. We are so proud of our residence, and this will serve as a rare occasion for us to show Teepa how the design of the space and the program has been influenced by her own positive approach.

Brandi Burgess, Interim Administrator of Assisted Living and Memory Care, is a certified PAC trainer and has worked hard to incorporate Teepa’s approach into the way Plymouth Harbor cares for its residents. “The tenets of her program are that if caregivers understand what is happening physically and cognitively to those with dementia, we can identify the levels of progression and remaining strengths in the moment,” Brandi said.

More information about Teepa and the Positive Approach™ to Care and the GEMS® States model for brain change can be found online at TeepaSnow.com.