Earth day originated on April 22, 1970 and is considered to be the birth of the modern environmental movement. Ideated by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson, Earth Day was meant to serve as a “national teach-in on the environment” that would educate the masses about the effects our actions have on the health of our planet. While most of America remained largely unaware of growing environmental concerns prior to April 22, 1970, the first celebration of Earth Day brought these concerns to center stage.

Drawing from the energy of the anti-war protest movement, the first Earth Day saw 20 million Americans participate in rallies and demonstrations highlighting the need for greener practices. By the end of 1970, the United States Environmental Protection Agency had been created, and the Clear Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts had all been passed. In 1990, Earth Day became globally recognized, with 200 million people in over 140 nations participating, according to the Earth Day Network (EDN), a nonprofit organization that coordinates Earth Day activities. It has since grown into an internationally celebrated holiday that focuses on how to live a more eco-friendly life. The EDN estimates that more than 1 billion people are involved in Earth Day activities every year, making it “the largest secular civic event in the world.”

Thirteen years ago, a group of environmentally-minded residents came together to find ways to bring the movement to Plymouth Harbor. This was the beginning of the Conservation Committee, which then became a formal committee three years later. Now, members of the committee share a common mission: to promote conservation of resources within Plymouth Harbor, including recycling, water, and electricity usage, and other appropriate conservation measures. The committee also researches and makes recommendations on ways in which Plymouth Harbor may become more environmentally responsible.

“Our biggest job is to educate residents on simple ways to conserve resources,” said Isabel Pedersen. Tips and tricks can be found in the weekly flyer, and residents are encouraged to try to incorporate these small changes into their daily routines. “Although independently they don’t sound like much, lots of little things can add up and make a big change,” Isabel said.
If you want to learn more about the Conservation Committee, contact Isabel at ext. 561. There are also Conservation Committee liaisons in each colony. Although new committee members won’t be chosen until next year, you can still act as a role model for others by putting into place environmentally friendly practices.

While turning off lights and recycling are what you initially think of when you think about conserving resources, those aren’t the only ways. Conserving resources also means finding new uses or new homes for things you already have. Instead of throwing away old clothing, household items, and furniture, donate them to the Resident Fund Shop or the donation collection bins located on the Ground Floor of the Tower. These four organizations (All Faiths Food Bank, Resurrection House, Sarasota County Animal Services, and Meals on Wheels) and our Fund shop put our reusable items to good use and prevents the need for someone to buy something new that they can get used.

To celebrate Earth Day this year, the Conservation Committee will have a table set up in the lobby where you can get reusable cloth grocery bags, reusable water bottles, and information about what Plymouth Harbor is doing to reduce our footprint. Someone will be at the table throughout the day to answer questions, so make sure you stop by!

Sources: www.earthday.org, www.history.com

Ann has been an artist all her life, but she isn’t “a person who paints wide-eyed children and hibiscus.” To her, art is meant to challenge us. “It should create a reaction within people, challenge their beliefs, and stir our emotions,” Ann said. To do this, Ann’s work often references politics, environmental issues, animal rights, and overpopulation, just to name a few. Through her art, she expresses her ideals and opinions on the world around her.

The mediums she works with are just as varied as her subject matter. Ann has worked with oils, prints, textiles, and most recently (albeit 30 years ago) metal. As a metalsmith, Ann uses gold, silver, copper, and bronze to create all sorts of rings, bracelets, and necklaces. Using a torch, hammer, and a wide variety of pliers, Ann sculpts flat pieces of
metal into her desired shape, sometimes using chemicals to distort the metal’s color or adding various stones.

No matter the medium, Ann works in layers, allowing her works to claim a life of their own. When she begins her process, she has a good idea of what she wants to do technically, but it never turns out that way. “I find when a work is too controlled, too harmonized, and too predictable, it’s boring,” she said. She often turns an idea into a series so that she can “explore and develop all aspects of it and bring it to maturity.” Her collections typically consist of 10 to 20 pieces, each piece a unique part of a whole.

Ann comes by her artistic talent naturally, but she has also had extensive academic experience in the field. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in interior architecture, and over the years continued her technical education at six other art institutions. She continues her education by attending workshops, mostly for metalworking. “It challenges me,” she said. “There is always something new to learn.”

Ann has studied with many master artists and has shown her work both locally at the Ringling Museum of Art and internationally.

Cheryl Mooney has been an art teacher for thirty years. Time and time again, she has seen the positive, therapeutic impact art can have on people’s lives, no matter their age or stage. “Therapy has always been a part of art for me,” she said, but now that her husband Tim is a resident in the Starr Memory Care Residence, its importance has been heightened.

Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that encourages self-expression through media such as painting, modeling, drawing, collage, and coloring. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, art can enrich the lives of those with Alzheimer’s and dementia. When practiced in a supportive environment, art allows people to express themselves without fear of being judged. “There is no right or wrong way to make art,” Cheryl said. “The important thing is just making it a part of residents’ routines.”

Art allows residents to express their thoughts and feelings. It can trigger dormant memories and emotions and brings up the most important pieces of someone’s life, whether it’s their favorite childhood pet or a family trip. “Art becomes a form of communication,” Cheryl said. “From someone’s art, you can see what they’re thinking about and what is important to them, creating an opportunity for caregivers to start a meaningful conversation.”

When therapists and caregivers encourage those with dementia to explore their feelings by engaging in the creative process, it enhances the quality of life for not only the resident but also the caregiver. It can aid in managing behavior, processing feelings, and reducing stress for all parties involved. Art therapy provides a way for those with dementia or Alzheimer’s to preserve their sense of self and validates them, regardless of how far their disease has progressed. It shows the person that their story matters to others (www.alzheimers.net).

“Art helps remind them that they can still add beauty to the world for others to enjoy,” Cheryl said. “It does not matter what it looks like because the important part is that they were able to make something themselves.”

Brandi Burgess, Administrator of Assisted Living and Memory Care, echoed Cheryl’s statement and encourages the use of art therapy. “The value of art with dementia is immeasurable,” Brandi said. “Art allows those who are often without a voice to speak and share about their experiences with the world around them,” said Brandi.

Providing opportunities for those with dementia to engage in art is a simple, but incredibly important, way to help. Taking the time to create something with a resident can make all the difference in their lives and shows that it truly is better to give than to receive.

In 2014, our Board of Trustees and Leadership Council committed the time and financial resources to ensure that every single Plymouth Harbor staff member is given premier education on dementia care.

Our goal is to have staff who are knowledgeable about dementia, aware of the unique manifestations of dementia, who understand the impact of dementia on family and environmental dynamics, and who are adept at interacting with those with dementia. Using Teepa Snow’s Positive Approach™ to Care (PAC) philosophy, we ensure that this happens.

Teepa Snow is a leading educator on dementia. As an occupational therapist with more than 30 years of clinical experience in the field, 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. 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

Four years ago, Brandi Burgess, Interim Administrator of Assisted Living and Memory Care, became a nationally certified trainer in PAC and developed an education plan for all levels of our staff with responsibilities in any of our licensed facilities.

“I really love when staff members from all departments share an interaction they had with a resident and say ‘I felt myself getting defensive and upset, and then I realized I was talking to a diamond,’ or an emerald, or a ruby,” Brandi said. “When they can take a step back, use what they learned in their PAC training, and approach the situation with a different mindset, they can better understand and care for our residents.”

Health Services staff receive annual training, which consists of education on normal aging, dementia, current research, and the progression of dementia through the GEMS® model. They also learn positive physical approaches and skills to use during care. Many different techniques are used to teach our staff these skills: video clips of Teepa demonstrating how to sort out what GEM someone is for visual learners; lectures and Q&A sessions for verbal learners; role playing and hands-on care practice for existential learners.

Our Care Partners in the Starr Memory Care Residence receive a three-week training, the most intensive of all our employees. Their PAC training is heavily interactive and hands-on, allowing them to practice the skills they will need and also put themselves in the shoes of someone with dementia. Even those who work outside of Health Services receive an introduction to PAC in their new employee orientations.

“If we can teach our staff how to purposefully change the environment and approach to our residents, then we can ensure they have the proper setting to shine at their best,” Brandi said.

We are pleased to welcome charter members of the Anchor Society, a group of donors who have given to the Foundation consistently, year after year, in at least 5 of the last 6 years. Consistent annual giving allows us to continue to fund ongoing programs, such as the chapel, wood shop, library, the new resident educational offerings, employee scholarships, employee hardship cases, employee training, wellness initiatives, and other new offerings.

The Foundation Board was happy to honor and celebrate these donors on National Philanthropy Day (November 15th) at our Cocktails by Candlelight event in the Bistro. All members received a commemorative pin as a symbol of our gratitude. Over sixty guests attended the event.

Charter Members of the Anchor Society:

Maizie Abuza
Carolyn Albrecht
Mary Allyn
Al and Barbara Balaban
Patricia and Graham Barkhuff
David and Ruth Beliles
Kay Bosse
Bill Brackett
Molly Brzica
Marty Buenneke
Celia Catlett and Gene Heide
Aubie and Sandy Coran
Bruce Crawford and Joan Sheil
John and Alida de Jongh
Joe Devore
Judy Diedrich
Janet Fassler
Greg Fosselman
Arnold and Marcia Freedman
Nancy Gross
Jerry and Joelle Hamovit
Harry and Nancy Hobson
Addie Hurst
Joe Iaria
Bill and Betsy Johnston
Harriet Josenhanss
Jerry and Nancy Kaplan
Marian Kessler
Chris and Margo Light
Sallie and Tom Luebbe
Gerda and Vytas Maceikonis
Jeanne Manser
Gerry Mattson
Ginny McIntire
Fred and Molly Moffat
Elizabeth Murphy
Becky and Paul Pazkowski
Isabel Pedersen
BJ Peters
Jean and Brian Rushton
Bobi Sanderson
Shirlee Schachtel
Norma Schatz
Jeanne Seiberling
Charleen Sessions
Maryanne and Joe Shorin
Cade and Whit Sibley
Carol Siegler
Jean Simon
Jane Smiley
Phil and Barry Starr
Betty Templeton
Tom Towler and Nancy Lyon
Wendy and Jim Underwood
Dr. Jim Wiggin
Jill Wilson
Tena and Tom Wilson
Edward Yasuna