“Health is a state of body. Wellness is a state of being.” – J. Stanford.

At Plymouth Harbor we couldn’t agree more. Over the years, our definition of healthy living has certainly expanded. When we first opened our doors in 1966, an active lifestyle simply meant engaging in activities such as gardening and shuffleboard. Years later, a new approach — “wellness” — started becoming more prominent. Wellness offers a unique perspective on healthy living, one that emphasizes a balance of social, spiritual, community, professional, emotional, intellectual, and physical activities.

Along with this approach came a new definition of physical wellness, one that had grown to include more comprehensive fitness programming like those seen at the YMCA and other health clubs. In keeping with this trend, Plymouth Harbor opened the doors to our very own state-of-the-art Wellness Center in 2014, featuring professional staff, new equipment, knowledgeable instructors, and variety of fitness classes. With experienced staff onsite, residents were now able to receive a multitude of benefits, including fitness assessments, orientations, and enhanced programming.

By 2015, with the help of contracted instructors, the Wellness Center was able to offer at least 10 separate fitness classes each month, meeting two to three times per week. Today, the Wellness Center has expanded so much that weekend classes were added to our monthly programming in order to offer more options for our residents. Thirteen different classes are now provided, including our latest additions, Sit Fit+ and Yoga, which are offered on Saturday mornings. In addition, the Wellness Center continues to produce numerous take-home brochures, DVDs, and guidelines for in-home fitness.

Resident Elsa Price is a familiar face in the Wellness Center. While she used to regularly attend scheduled classes, Elsa now focuses her attention on dancing — with private dance lessons in the Group Fitness Room with instructor Jim Helmich (who also teaches one of our Line Dancing classes). Elsa says, “Not too many years ago, the Wellness Center looked quite different. Now, we have a beautiful center that is staffed by very competent people, and a dance floor that provides space not only for dancing but also for fitness. This dedication to mobility promotes a pathway to good health. It’s a wonderful improvement and a welcoming sign for those coming in.”

We are thrilled that the Wellness Center has become such an important resource in the daily lives of our residents, and we look forward to continually expanding our offerings.


By: Isabel Pedersen

He was an “officer and a gentleman.” That is how Barbara J. Chin describes her boss of 13 years, Lt. General James M. Gavin, Chairman of the Board of Arthur D. Little, Inc., a research and management consulting firm in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Barbara, fresh out of Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, went to Arthur D. Little.

After five years, she accepted a position with Lt. Gen. Gavin for what she calls “the best years of my life.” She stayed 13 years as Assistant to the Chairman of the Board. When Gavin retired after 13 years, she left to work for the President of Raytheon. There was another remarkable man in her life, her husband Joseph Chin. Joseph was one of 11 children of a Chinese immigrant family. His father supported this army of “Chelsea Chins” by running a laundry business. Her husband, as a boy, had his own iron and when he was not needed at the family laundry, he was rented out to other laundries, taking “his” iron with him. A pre-World War II enlistment, using an older brother’s birth certificate since he was underage, was extended when war was declared. As an Asian serving in the Pacific Theater, he was at extra risk. He found himself sometimes being shot at by both sides. After the war, and after studying at Northeastern University, Joseph became an electrical engineer. All his brothers became engineers as well.

Barbara, an only child born in Pittsburgh, moved to Summit, New Jersey, after her eighth grade year, a move that felt traumatic to her. Her adult years were spent in a condo in Lincoln, Massachusetts, where she was active on the Condo Board’s Hospitality and Welcoming Committee and its Garden Committee. After 37 years there, she has struggled to downsize so that she could move straight to Plymouth Harbor. Thank you, Salvation Army.

She is already at work in the Fund Shop, which she suggests might better be called the FUN shop. With interest in gardening, fashion, and decorating, there will be more people wishing to put her to work. Come say hello to Barbara in the Fund Shop on Friday afternoons and maybe find a few treasures as well.


By: Addie Hurst

Meet Rae Lichtenstein…that pert, smiling, friendly lady you have seen around the campus recently. She moved in on June 27th and just loves Plymouth Harbor! Perhaps one of her favorite activities is going to the movies and programs…she rarely misses one performance!

Rae was born in Brownsville, Pennsylvania, a small town about an hour from Pittsburgh. Her father was Austrian-Hungarian who met her mother in Uniontown, which was near Brownsville. He was a salesman. Rae graduated from high school, attended classes at the University of Pittsburgh and worked for her stepmother in the family restaurant and bar manufacturing business. Then she was introduced to Ernest by a relative. They were married within a year. Ernest owned supermarkets, eight in all, and Rae helped in various capacities. They had four children and now there are six
grandchildren; a series of mostly professional people — artists, an accountant, an attorney, and a bio-physics student.

At the age of 35, having watched her children in the water, Rae learned to swim, and swam laps for years. She also took yoga classes and participated in water aerobics. Ernest and Rae belonged to the Green Oaks Country Club, where Rae learned to play golf, mahjong, and canasta. They owned a second home in Deep Creek, Maryland, where they spent their weekends, boating and swimming. During this time, Rae enjoyed volunteering at Montefiore Hospital for 15 years.

Traveling? Yes, once a year, Rae and Ernest traveled all over the world, and once a year they took the children on a trip. Eventually, they bought a vacation home at Beachplace on Longboat Key where they spent 27 years. Rae loved taking the movie classes at the Education Center.

Ernest died in 1997. Rae was on the waiting list for two years before she moved here. Do say “hello” to her when you see her around Plymouth Harbor!


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 PlymouthHarbor.org/Category/Insights/. 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)


At the March 2017 Café Chat, Chair of our Board of Trustees, Dr. G. Duncan Finlay, introduced Plymouth Harbor to the Florence A. Rothman Institute (FARI), where he serves as President and CEO, and The Rothman Index.

According to Dr. Finlay, healthcare in the United States is beset by upward spiraling and financially unsustainable costs and quality that is disappointing at best. Early efforts to address this issue have had inconsistent results in terms of quality and cost measurements. These approaches are commonly patient-centered, and thus require a means to accurately measure and follow a patient’s condition at any level of care, from hospital care through skilled nursing, home health care, and assisted and independent living organizations.

The Rothman Index
This is where the Rothman Index (RI), an acuity metric developed at Sarasota Memorial Hospital, comes in. The RI is a score of a patient’s general condition that is calculated automatically from information that is routinely collected in the electronic medical records (EMR) system. The score is displayed in a graphical format that depicts the patient’s condition over time. The RI has been validated with over 30 peer-reviewed articles and is used in over 60 hospitals nation-wide. Preliminary studies in skilled nursing facilities appear to support its accuracy outside the hospital.

Plymouth Harbor’s Involvement
FARI wanted to explore if this same index could be constructed for persons living independently, and as a result, asked Plymouth Harbor residents for their participation in a trial study where patients conduct their own medical self-assessments, answering a series of questions. The study officially began on May 9, 2017, with 46 independent living participants. A total of 30 females and 16 males participated, with an average age of 83. These volunteers answered 14 ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions about possible symptoms pertaining to their own body systems.

The same self-assessment was then repeated on a second occasion separated by more than 24 hours — with an average separation time of 11 days. Then, the volunteers had a Registered Nurse independently perform a standard head-to-toe assessment for comparison.

The Results
The study was able to demonstrate significant inter-rater reliability (agreement) in 11 of the body system questions on the first pass, and in 10 questions on the second. The individual answers were consistent between the first and second answer periods.

Future plans include asking volunteers to use a handheld device, which was demonstrated at the Café Chat, to measure their own vital signs (blood pressure, pulse, respirations, and oxygen levels) and then answer the same questions on a smart phone. These will be combined to create a Rothman Index score and graph, which will give a picture of each volunteer’s overall wellness during the monitoring period. Please stay tuned for more information on this future study.

In previous issues of the Harbor Light, we have largely featured residents’ involvement within the greater Sarasota community. However, there are so many ways that residents give generously of their time within Plymouth Harbor, particularly in our Smith Care Center (SCC).

Residents lend a hand in the SCC in several ways. Activity Director Judy Sarnowski stresses that she has both official and unofficial volunteers — those who may not consider themselves formal volunteers, but make a point to stop in and check in on their neighbors on a consistent basis, in one way or another. Judy stresses that no matter how big or small their time commitment, both of these types of volunteers play an important role in the lives of SCC residents.

Currently, Judy has 19 Plymouth Harbor residents on her official volunteer roster, along with six community volunteers. Together, they contribute more than 50 hours each month, helping to accomplish a large number of activities and programs that otherwise would not be possible without their time and dedication. Volunteering takes on many different forms — bingo buddies; room visits; arts and crafts; table games; seasonal decorating; distribution of communications like the Harbor Light or Weekly Flyer; and so much more. “We are blessed to have an in-house base of volunteers,” Judy says. “Because of them, we are able to increase our programming, and you can really see first-hand the positive difference in the lives of our residents.”

The most important part of working with a volunteer base is ensuring that the volunteer is doing something they truly enjoy and are passionate about. As an example, resident Jerry Kaplan began volunteering a couple years ago and indicated an interest in offering a type of current events program. Today, he holds a well-attended newspaper reading and current events discussion on Monday mornings in the SCC Living Room.

There is always a need for more volunteers, especially as we come closer to the Grand Opening of our new Assisted Living and Memory Care Residences. If you would like to learn more, or if you are interested in working in the SCC, whether that be on a regular or as-needed basis, please contact Judy at Ext. 260. As a volunteer, you will be given an informative orientation manual and asked to complete a short questionnaire in order to best match your interests and time commitment with resident need.

We thank our resident volunteers for devoting their time to enhancing the lives of their neighbors.


By: Chris Cooper, Wellness Director

On Thursday, August 17th, Plymouth Harbor held its second annual Employee Health Fair. The Health Fair is part of Plymouth Harbor’s award-winning employee wellness program, OnBoard, which was implemented in 2014.

The goal of the program is to enhance the overall well-being of employees through the seven dimensions of wellness: Environmental/Community; Emotional; Intellectual; Physical; Professional/Vocational; Social; and Spiritual.

OnBoard strives to develop and maintain programs that build stronger employees and encourage them to take a proactive role when it comes to their health and well-being. In January 2017, OnBoard implemented a new incentive program where employees may earn OnBoard Wellness Rewards Bucks by participating in events, like Learn and Earn lunches and the Health Fair, and use those Bucks to reduce their insurance premiums for the following year. Currently, Plymouth Harbor has 155 employees participating in this program.

The Health Fair was held in the Wellness Center and was open to all employees, including those who are not on Plymouth Harbor’s insurance. The event included Biometric Screenings (a blood screening that measures items like glucose and cholesterol) and several vendors such as our Employee Health Coach, a registered dietitian, dermatologist, local dental office, and more. The event also included giveaways and prizes for those in attendance, including FitBits, a Nutri Bullet Blender, and a kayak (pictured right with winner Lori Hoskins, Dining Services).

Employees extend sincere thanks for allowing use of the Wellness Center for this annual event. We look forward to continually improving the health and well-being of our staff.


As the campaign for A Commitment to Memory advances, we are delighted to welcome new donors who have opted to participate: our business partners. It is truly a pleasure to experience the generosity of the organizations we partner with on new construction, renovations, and technology.

Willis Smith Construction has made a pledge of $50,000 towards our campaign. We are happy to recognize their commitment by placing their name on the new Private Dining Room that will be adjacent to the Assisted Living Dining Room. “Our residents and employees see Willis Smith representatives as part of the Plymouth Harbor team,” commented President/CEO Harry Hobson. “It is with great pleasure that we welcome Willis Smith as a prominent member of our philanthropic efforts, especially for this important and long-awaited project.”

The Loyola Group, who has been responsible for building our technology infrastructure to accommodate all of our new IT efforts, such as campus-wide WiFi, the telephone system, nurse call system, and much more, has pledged $25,000 to the campaign. Their gift will be recognized by placing their name on the Family Conference Room and Resource Center on the second floor. Dan Cavolo, President of the Loyola Group, shared that it was very important to him to be part of this campaign, supporting not only the new building, but Plymouth Harbor’s overall mission.

Energy Air, Inc., the supplier of our HVAC in the Northwest Garden Building, Pilgrim Hall, and other projects throughout Plymouth Harbor, has committed to a $5,000 gift toward the project. Charles Kulp, Founder of Energy Air, thanked us for the time and effort we have put into this project.

As of this writing, the campaign total is at $2,949,095 (or 98%) of our $3,000,000 goal. We are delighted to welcome all of our participants and hope that more are inspired to give as we grow closer and closer to our goal. Every gift makes a difference, and every donor is sincerely appreciated and will be recognized on the donor wall. We have reached out to more of our consistent business partners and hope to be able to announce more support soon! Please join me in thanking and welcoming those at Willis Smith Construction, The Loyola Group, and Energy Air to our list of 106 donors!


By: Isabel Pedersen

Not everyone gets to marry a handsome TV anchorman, but Joan Kiernan did. They married one year after they met and had five great children and six grandchildren. They were married for 42 years. Dave passed away in 1999.

Joan, born in New York, grew up in Connecticut where she lived most of her life except for a short time when the family lived in Puerto Rico. They later moved to Darien, Connecticut, where the children grew up. When their youngest child went to school, Joan did likewise. She graduated from Sacred Heart University in Fairfield and found a career at United States Surgical
Corporation in Norwalk as their corporate secretary. In 1989, she and Dave decided to retire in Florida. They lived on Siesta Key and Longboat Key. They traveled all over the world until Dave’s passing.

Joan found a second wonderful marriage with Vince, who passed away in 2006.

Joan has always been active in her retirement years. She volunteered for local charities and was on the Board of the Asolo Repertory Theatre. She played team tennis at Bath & Racquet Fitness Club, Longboat Key Club, and Bird Key Yacht Club. Joan enjoys theatre and spends as much time as she can in New York City. She loves to travel and has been on almost every continent. Her home reflects her many trips to the far east. Most fascinating places? Dubai, and maybe Komodo Island? And every place in between!