Founded in 1981 and recognized across the globe, International Housekeeping Week (IHW) is traditionally celebrated during the second week of September. This year, due to Hurricane Irma, Plymouth Harbor held our IHW event during the first week of October.

IHW is typically a week-long event that is celebrated uniquely by each organization that participates. At Plymouth Harbor, we are dedicated to recognizing the efforts of our hard-working housekeeping staff, who play a vital role in keeping our campus clean, healthy, and safe.

“International Housekeeping Week is an important event for us to celebrate each year because it provides the perfect opportunity for us to recognize and thank our staff for what they do,” says
Director of Housekeeping, Jim Myers.

Plymouth Harbor has now celebrated IHW for 29 years. This year, our appreciation was shown through daily recognition and a great deal of food — catered breakfast, lunch in the Private Dining Room, a pizza party, and an ice cream day. We truly thank our staff for what they do each day, and look forward to celebrating this important event in the years to come.


On Wednesday, August 30, 2017, Irma developed near the Cape Verde Islands from a tropical wave that moved off the West African coast three days prior. As we know all too well, Irma rapidly intensified, growing to a Category 5 Hurricane by Tuesday, September 5th. During Irma’s journey through the Atlantic, Plymouth Harbor’s Storm Team closely monitored its movement. Staff meetings took place at least twice daily during the week of September 4th to determine appropriate plans and preparations.

In addition to our Storm Team, Plymouth Harbor consulted with our “CCRC Consortium” — a group of retirement communities that we helped form more than 10 years ago, ranging in location from Sarasota to Naples. This group works together in times of need, serving as a sounding board and sharing resources and information. Throughout the development of Irma, we held regular meetings with this group, along with Ed McCrane, Chief, Sarasota County Emergency Management, to discuss plans and potential needs.

By Friday, September 8th, Irma’s track had shifted significantly further west, predicting landfall on Florida’s western coast and heading directly toward Sarasota. After again speaking with Ed McCrane and our CCRC Consortium, Plymouth Harbor announced a mandatory evacuation, which would commence on Saturday, September 9th. In the midst of all this planning, our staff was hard at work making sure that residents had a safe, secure, and comfortable shelter in the event of an evacuation. While our agreement with local hotels did not come to fruition due to overbooking and a plethora of unforeseen guests fleeing from South Florida, staff worked tirelessly to determine an alternative shelter: First Congregational United Church of Christ (UCC).

First Congregational UCC is Plymouth Harbor’s founding church, and was used as our independent living shelter some years ago. After viewing the church’s newly renovated, hurricane-rated facility, staff set to work preparing the space ahead of the evacuation decision. By the end of the workday on September 8th, cots, supplies, and an emergency generator were delivered and ready for use.

After evacuation was announced, staff teams and evacuation plans were finalized and put into place. Our CCRC Consortium stepped up, graciously offering supplemental buses in order to safely and swiftly evacuate our residents. Those communities included: Sarasota Bay Club, The Fountains at Lake Pointe Woods, The Pines of Sarasota, Lakehouse West, Sunnyside Village, The Glenridge on Palmer Ranch, Aviva Senior Life, and Village on the Isle. Additionally, Aviva Senior Life and The Glenridge on Palmer Ranch agreed to host our Smith Care Center residents and staff during the storm, while Sunnyside Village hosted staff and residents of our Assisted Living. By nightfall on Saturday, all parties were in place at their respective shelters.

While the experience was far from ideal, what came out of it was something special — a unique bond between staff and fellow residents, and an undeniable spirit of kindness and community. Residents never skipped a beat in rallying behind administration. They contributed in any way possible, helping one another and continually putting a positive spin on the situation. Some even joked that they had never experienced a “catered evacuation,” referring to Chef René’s impeccable spread, which included specialty salads, carved New York strip, salmon salad, and more. Residents at the church, including Peggy Wallace, Winnie Downes, Carl Denney, Ted Rehl, and John Goodman, shared their musical and show talents to help pass the time. At Sunnyside Village and Aviva Senior Life, residents and staff came together through song, puzzles, and conversation.

Resident Bobi Sanderson said the following of her time at the church: “I felt that the staff and assistance we received was absolutely unbelievable. We were given the ultimate help, both physically and mentally. It was well planned and well carried out to the nth degree.”

Charles Gehrie, who was also at the church, said, “The experience was very supportive. What most impressed me was the level of staff commitment. For instance, I knew our CEO was supporting us through plans and preparations; but what I didn’t expect was that when I had to get up in the middle of the night, he would be the one helping me out of my cot. That kind of commitment is extraordinary.”

Thankfully, Hurricane Irma slowed to a Category 2 storm as it neared Sarasota on Sunday evening, and we were blessed once again that our area was spared a direct hit. Overall, the Plymouth Harbor campus sustained minimal damage, and all residents were home by Tuesday, September 12th. We wish to thank our residents for your patience and understanding throughout this journey. We also extend our deepest gratitude to both our staff and community partners for your cooperation and generosity.

Please know that we are taking this opportunity to review and improve upon our preparations should the need for evacuation arise in the future. While Irma certainly presented an unfortunate situation, we know Plymouth Harbor is stronger from this experience.


In February of 2015, a new idea was presented by the employee wellness OnBoard team that would help build strong relationships between residents and employees by bringing them together on a more personal level – enter Insights. Insights is a monthly event where a resident shares their story with employees at Plymouth Harbor on the fourth Friday of each month during January–October, from 12:00–12:30, typically in the Private Dining Room. Residents are invited to be the featured speaker, employees sign up to attend, and lunch is provided by the Plymouth Harbor Foundation. Part of the inspiration for the Insights series was the notion that, by residents sharing the paths to their remarkable lives, our employees would perhaps feel invigorated and inspired to achieve some of the things they otherwise felt were unattainable. What we have found is that there are many benefits to the series: connections, inspiration, admiration, and self-fulfillment.

The deepening of relationships that have been cultivated through these monthly connections has been noteworthy. Karen Smith, an employee in Resident Programming, has attended nearly all presentations. She shared, “…The Insights program has been tremendously valuable to me as I seek a more personal connection with our residents.” Paul Pazkowski, an eTech at Plymouth Harbor, says, “When I heard Anne Burroughs speak, I learned that it is important to have a passion in life, but you may or may not make your living at it. From Charles Gehrie’s talk I learned that many people have innovative ideas, but it takes an inventor and a team to make one successful.”

Some of the stories that are shared have deep life lessons and some are riddled with what we might consider strife, yet the storyteller found it to be part of their fulfilling journey. For instance, Sue Johnson’s story began in Manhattan, where she slept in the living room or hallway of their apartment most of her childhood. She wasn’t complaining. This was part of her life and contributed to what has made her the resilient and positive woman she is today. Reina Jay Aavri Troiano was reticent about telling her story, saying that her life was rather unremarkable. However, going through the process of reviewing her life, she found the experience to be uplifting and fulfilling, and she delivered a review of her life that was quite remarkable.

Insights is videotaped by resident Phil Starr every month, who then edits and produces a digital recording that is loaded onto our website at DVDs are produced and given to the speakers to share with their families, and a copy is placed in the Resident Library. If you are interested in telling your story through Insights, please contact Becky Pazkowski at Ext. 398.

Current Insights collection:
Charles Gehrie (March 2015)
Don and Peggy Wallace (April 2015)
Beverly and Bill Vernon (May 2015)
Jane Smiley (June 2015)
Senator Marlow Cook (July 2015)
Ted and Fran Rehl (August 2015)
Walt Mattson (September 2015)
Susan Mauntel (October 2015)
Terry and Maureen Aldrich (January 2016)
Phil and Barry Starr (February 2016)
Paul and Macky Groen (March 2016)
Tom and Marie Belcher (April 2016)
Judy Liersch and Al Jennings (May 2016)
John Goodman (June 2016)
Wendy and Jim Underwood (July 2016)
Jerry and Nancy Kaplan (August 2016)
Joe Berkely (September 2016)
Anne Burroughs (October 2016)
Lou Newman (January 2017)
Tom Elliott (February 2017)
Connie Meadows (March 2017)
Reina Jay Aavri Troiano (April 2017)
Sue Johnson (May 2017)
David Beliles (June 2017)
Connie Sanders and
Carl Koenig (July 2017)
Tom Towler and Nancy
Lyon (August 2017)


Resident David Beliles discusses his childhood, living through the Depression, and building his own newspaper business, with the help of his wife, Ruth, into what we know today as The Observer Group.

View his June 2017 Insights presentation here:


Resident Sue Johnson discusses growing up in Brooklyn, becoming one of the first female superintendents in the country, and her marriage to a “Georgia Boy.”

View her May 2017 Insights presentation here:


We have seen the structure of the Northwest Garden Building taking shape over the last few months. Now that we are familiar with the outside of the building, it is time to take a look on the inside. The following presentation, adapted for our Harbor Club members, discusses the building’s expanded assisted living, new memory care program, and how it will all come together. This video series will answer questions about the floor plan, amenities, dining options, training, programming, and much, much more!

A Look Inside with Harry Hobson, President & CEO, Brandi Burgess, Social Worker, and Becky Pazkowski, Senior Vice President of Philanthropy
Held on Thursday, April 27th at 3:30 p.m. in Pilgrim Hall



An only child born in Boston during the Great Depression, Reina Troiano lived a life of self-exploration. After high school, Reina says she “lived life backwards.” She went directly into the working world, holding many different positions, from a file clerk to advertising to working for a personnel agency and even modeling. It wasn’t until she was in her 40s that Reina decided to go back to college, double-majoring in English and interdisciplinary social studies. Reina later went on to study for a master’s degree, leaving before graduation, and eventually landing a job in the U.S. Senate. What did she learn along the way?

View her April 2017 Insights presentation to find out:


Connie Meadows was born in Maryland, and graduated from the University of Connecticut with a degree in psychology. Connie’s first job was with a consulting fi rm, but in 1966, she moved to The Hague to work for the Insurance Company of North America. After becoming Director of the European region, she moved to Brussels for more than a decade. She eventually moved back to Maryland and formed a company that provided financial services and managedcondominiums. But she didn’t stop there – Connie then became CFO of Ocean Petroleum before retiring in 2000. What lead her into her many different careers?

View her March 2017 Insights presentation to find out:


We have seen the structure of the Northwest Garden Building taking shape over the last few months. Now that we are familiar with the outside of the building, it is time to take a look on the inside. Join us to learn about the expanded assisted living and new memory care program, and how it will all come together. This three-part series will answer questions about the floor plan, amenities, dining options, training, programming, and much, much more!

Part Two: A Positive Approach™ to Care with Brandi Burgess, Social Worker
Held on Friday, February 17th at 3:00 p.m. in Pilgrim Hall

Alzheimer’s Disease is a growing concern for all Americans. At Plymouth Harbor, we have adopted the Positive Approach™ to Care (PAC) by Teepa Snow. Join us for this encore of the PAC presentation held on January 20th, which will go into much more depth regarding the program, depicting examples of everyday life for residents who will reside in our new Memory Care Residence.