From January 20th—January 24th, we will be offering an ‘out of the ordinary’ activity each day!  All activities will be held on the lower patio near the outdoor pool.  We encourage you to experience each of these lively activities.  It’s time to be adventurous!

Monday, January 20th at 2:00 pm

Ageless Grace® is a program created by Denise Medved that consists of 21 simple, natural and organic exercises designed for all abilities and concentrates on the longevity of the body and mind. Movements are designed to be performed seated in a chair, standing, or on a mat.

Tuesday, January 21st at 2:00 pm
TAI CHI (outdoors)

Tai Chi is a form of exercise that combines slow, but challenging, standing movements that improve  balance, posture and coordinated movement. May be performed in a chair.

Wednesday, January 22nd  at 2:00 pm

Zumba Gold is an easy-to-follow, invigorating dance-fitness program that lets you move to the beat at your own speed . This class provides modified, low-impact moves for  active older adults.

Thursday, January 23rd at 3:00 pm

All are welcome to gather with friends and experience a fun and healing outdoor drum session led by Jana Broder.   Beautiful djembe drums will be provided to participants to use during the session.

Friday, January 24th at 3:00 pm

Celebrate our new bocce ball court by playing a few rounds, or come to cheer your neighbors on in friendly competition!


Frances “Fran” Vancil is originally from Lancaster, California.  A veteran of the U.S. Army, Fran and her family moved to Reno, NV, where she was a stay-at-home mom for 5 years.  She worked as a security officer for Grand Sierra Resort and Washoe County Regional Parks in Reno, NV. When she moved to Florida she naturally sought an opportunity that used her security experience.

A track record in security work was indeed her entree and Fran was hired as a security officer at Plymouth Harbor  in September 2011.  But there was more out there for her and she later transferred to the maintenance department to do something new.  In Maintenance she serves as an e-tech.

Fran has been recognized as a “valuable asset to the department” and is appreciated by her co-workers and supervisor for as a key member of their team.  In addition, residents and her co-workers frequently compliment Fran on her helpfulness and friendly attitude. She’s just good to be around

However, her work at Plymouth Harbor is not the only concern on Fran’s mind.  She keeps busy with her three sons.  Brody,  at 11 years old, is her oldest and next are 9-year old twins, Davon and Aiden.  Together they enjoysagoing to the famous Florida tourist attractions and theme parks.  It’s also not surprising that  they all enjoy physical activities like the beach, biking, trail hiking, zip lining, and camping with grandma.  Special memories are their camping trips in Yosemite National Park!

Congratulations, Fran!


By Adelaide Hurst

Nancy R. Taylor moved into her apartment at Plymouth Harbor from Lake Shore Village South on September 14, 2013.  However, she is hardly a stranger to this area, having lived in The Landings for four years and in Bradenton for ten years.

She was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and later moved to Manhattan.  She enjoyed being there for 25 years.

As a young woman, she wanted to be a Speech Pathologist which necessitated taking courses both at City College of New York and at Brooklyn College.  She also applied for and received a state grant to attend New York University where she earned an M.A.  Later she also studied at Pace University where she became a member of Phi Delta Kappa while earning her M.S. degree.

After graduating, she practiced in public, private, and parochial schools in New York City.  She was promoted to supervisory positions and helped develop questions for exams to become a licensed Speech Pathologist.

Nancy took early retirement and moved to this area.  In Bradenton she taught “English as a Second Language” to adults, an experience which she loved.  She tells the story about one of her students, a Romanian woman, who could not speak a word of English, who showed her a poetry book which she had written and which had been published in her native language.  Nancy enjoyed getting to know many of the families and even attended a few of their weddings.

She has been an active member of the League of Women Voters for many years and has served as a poll watcher.  She loves to read and enjoys her book clubs; going to lectures at Town Hall, the Van Wezel and SILL; as well as attending theater productions.  She loves to swim and take long walks on the beach.  Her interest in art can be attributed to her husband who was a “Sunday painter.”  She has also traveled extensively here and abroad.

Nancy is thrilled to be living in Plymouth Harbor.  She loves looking at her “postcard” view of the bay, the sunsets, and the passing of kayaks.  Nancy says that living here is a holiday, every day.  She “complains” about getting wrinkles from smiling so much and adds that she has never met so many nice people aggregated in one spot.

We sincerely hope that Nancy will continue to find happiness at Plymouth Harbor!

By Becky Pazkowski

We are delighted to share with you some of the highlights of Plymouth Harbor Foundation’s calendar year 2013 (as of 12/20/2013).  Below you will find charts that will give you a pictorial view of the year, but please allow me to mention some of the highlights in narrative form.  We are thankful at how generous you have all been this year, and how you have joined us in support of your favorite projects and passions.

Participation is an important factor in any giving program.  As of this writing, we received 345 gifts from 185 donors, of whom 67% are residents, rehab patients, or former residents; 14% staff; and 19% community, board members, vendors, or family.  185 donors is a 55% increase over last year.  Well done, donors!  Also, last year we had 60 new donors, and this year we have 99—all of whom we hope are enjoying the warm, deep feelings that generosity evokes.

We are extremely grateful to have inducted 7 new members into the MacNeil Society, as they have named Plymouth Harbor Foundation in their estate plans.  These deferred gifts are estimated at over $895,000.  This amount, added to the amount of deferred giving identified last year, totals over $1.1 million.  Thank you so much for trusting us with your ultimate gift!


The total dollar amount of current gifts this year is less than we received in 2012, but we were very fortunate to have received two large gifts in 2012 that together totaled over $500,000.   Among the many benefits—because there are too many to name here–this year’s generous giving has helped:


  •                 award 6 new scholarships to deserving employees
  •                 provide $5000 in emergency aide to employees
  •                 support residents who have outlived their resources
  •                 launch a renovation of our Wellness Center
  •                 bring frequent dances and musical events to PH
  •                 beautify our grounds; improve stewardship of our bay
  •                 keep our libraries relevant and well-functioning
  •                 improve the quality of life for our residents

Your love of fellow humankind is most impressive, and we are so very grateful.  Together, we can continue to bring new, improve existing, and plan for future programs and projects at Plymouth Harbor, thereby staying true to our mission of supporting positive aging.  We are on the cutting edge of retirement living, and we plan to keep it that way!  Many thanks for your support.

It was like a scene from school days when our art teachers released our creative urges with finger paint and broad expanses on which to play.  On Tuesday, December 10 the entire community was invited to a free for all Paint Party on the ground level hallway outside of the Plymouth Harbor Art Studio.

Resident artists – from the seasoned pro to the rank novice – picked up a brush and palette, pastels or whatnot to create their own design and make their unique mark on the walls that will soon come down to make way for the Wellness Center renovations.

Fran Knight and Maureen Aldrich, two of the Art Studio stalwarts, planned this special event for weeks in advance with some very specific goals in mind.  Of course, this Paint Party was a festive way to celebrate the transition of the old studio – grown tired from almost two decades of constant use and accumulation of old stuff – to the new, which will be available to artists this Spring with the unveiling of the new Wellness Center.

Many of the active studio artists participated on that first day and there were guest painters as well.  Beverly Vernon, one of the bright newer stars of the studio, created the “talk of the show” in her splash painting inspired by the chaotic drips and splashes of the famed expressionist Jackson Pollack.  Bev said she’s always wanted to try throwing paint at a wall and her results were spectacular.

Other artists took their cues from Vasily Kandinsky, the Russian artist credited with the first abstract paintings.  Kandinsky’s abstract circle designs in tightly contained squares inspired a long series of colorful patterns down the southern wall.

Pat Barkoff, a studio regular, aimed for whimsy with a giant rabbit, where on the opposite wall “windows” revealing two imagined, yet realistic worlds, from our artist/organizers Maureen and Fran.  Their trompe l’oeil designs created the illusion that these windows on the interior wall looked out onto Sarasota Bay filled with sailboats, a blue sky with birds and bright cheerful orange geraniums blooming in the window boxes.

A Yellow line, yet another illusion painted right now the center of the hallway floor, served as our yellow brick road ending at the glimmering green Emerald City on the far wall arising from a bright red field of poppies. Thanks to Maureen for that extra touch.

Isabel Pedersen and Celia Catlett were also adding their own fanciful art. Celia created a William Morris design with sidewalk chalk on the wall.  Bill Murtagh painted a cook in homage to the tasty creations of dining services and Jim Myers, our director of Environmental Services and lounge pianist, scratched out a stick man (bless his heart!)

Maureen and Fran smiled and watched as a parade of residents who rarely sought out the art studio came down the hallway to admire the work in progress.  Over the next week days and weeks leading to the holidays, more visitors strolled through the crowd-created exhibit.   That extra bit of attention was all part of the plan, according to Maureen.

“Our primary purpose was to create an event that included and attracted all residents, not just those of us who actively use the art studio,” Fran added.  “The new art studio will not be larger in square footage and it will likely still accommodate up to 11 individual artist work stations. However, the new studio is expected to be organized in such a way to be even more functional space for group workshops and classes.”

There are great expectations for a “renaissance” for this thriving little arts community. Their excitement about the plans was all the more evident when Joanne Hastings, one of their first visiting artists, arrived on the floor accompanied by executive staff Harry Hobson, Tena Wilson, Becky Pazkowski and Gordon Okawa.  It is thanks to the vision and a generous gift from Joanne that the Wellness Center renovations could begin to take form.  Now with construction beginning, it is clearly an exciting time for the entire community.

Joanne, a long-time art aficionado and artist herself in younger years, nonetheless picked up a brush again and proceeded to create a charming vision of a tree. “Frankly, I was impressed with her impressionistic technique,” Maureen later shared.

The nature of some art is that while universal or ageless, only a very small percentage of created art lasts forever.  Some say art is truly in the making and creative process.  When the walls are torn down to make way for the exciting new future of Wellness at Plymouth Harbor, these ephemeral gems (and scribbling) will give way to bright new memories.  Here’s to a Happy and Artful New Year!

Research has demonstrated that strength-training exercises have the ability to combat the weakness and frailty too often associated with the aging process.

Regular strength training (e.g., 2 to 3 days per week), can build muscle strength and muscle mass and preserve bone density, independence, and vitality regardless of age. In addition, strength training also has the ability to reduce the risk of osteoporosis and the signs and symptoms of numerous chronic diseases such as heart disease, arthritis, and type 2 diabetes, while also improving sleep and reducing depression.

The Wellness Team at Plymouth Harbor, led by Chris Valuck, is committed to the full range of resident wellness, but for many the idea of wellness begins with physical wellness and strength. It is easy to incorporate strength training into a personal fitness routine, but it is also very important to use proper lifting techniques. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than one million workers experience back injuries each year.  This does not take into account the many people who injure themselves working around their homes or attacking weights at the gym.

Using Proper Lifting Techniques

There are basic rules to follow when lifting heavy objects (or even lighter weight objects) in the weight room as well as in everyday life. Are you familiar with these do’s and don’ts?

Know or test the object’s weight.
Plan the lift and clear your path.
Get help for heavy or awkward loads.
Keep the object in the power zone (close to your body).
Use a wide stance for balance.
Use your legs to lift.
Pivot your feet to avoid twisting.

Hold your breath.
Bend or twist at the waist.
Use a partial grip   (1-2 fingers).
Obstruct your vision when carrying.
Lift quickly.
Pull a load if you can’t push it.
Lift using your back. (See Squat technique below)
Hold the item outside of the power zone (away from your body).

Try this easy power move – The Squat

No weights or lifting are necessary for this strength-training exercise. Squats are an easy place to start as you are using your own body weight to provide the resistance.  If you are faced with lifting something heavy, using the technique of the squat will protect your back.

Targeted Body Part: Gluteus Quadriceps
1. Place feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart, hips stacked over knees, knees over ankles.

2. Extend the arms out straight so they are parallel with the ground, palms facing down.

3. Initiate movement by inhaling and unlocking the hips, slightly bringing them back,. Keep sending hips backward as the knees begin to bend.

4. While the buttocks starts to stick out, make sure the chest and shoulders stay upright, and the back stays straight.  Keep the head facing forward with head straight ahead for a neutral spine.
5. Let the hip joint squat lower to the ground than the knees.

6. Engage the core, and exhale while driving through the heels to return to standing.

Reference: Middlesworth, Mark. Injury Prevention Tip-Proper Lifting Techniques. Ergonomicsplus. Retrieved August 28, 2013 from:

By Ila Preti

Give a hearty welcome to delightful, talented Helen Kelly who joined us in October!  Many of us knew her from her very active participation in many community organizations.

Born in Manhattan, Helen attended Cathedral High School.  She graduated with a B.S. from Mt. St. Vincent College in Riverdale; her major was Business Administration.

Her career began as an Advertising Agency Account Executive at J. Walter Thompson and Abbott Kimball.  She later became the Fashion Advertising Director at the New Yorker Magazine.  (This is where she met Jane Smiley who later introduced her to Sarasota and, much later, to Plymouth Harbor.)

Helen married John Love Kelly in 1952; living in Cortland Manor, N.Y., they raised two children, Janet and J. Scott.  Their four grandchildren are scattered around the country.  Helen enjoys following the exploits of her son who lives in Salt Lake City and is an avid triathlon participant.

When they retired from the advertising world, Helen and John moved to Siesta Key where they lived for eleven happy years.  After her husband’s death in 2004, Helen moved to a beautiful ‘tree house’ in the Landings.

Helen’s community service record is spectacular.  At the Women’s Resource Center she has been a board member, newsletter editor and Scholarship committee co-chair.  A former board member of the Sarasota Orchestra Association, Helen was the editor of their newsletter.  She worked on the Selby Library Reading Festival.  As a former member of the Mission Valley Golf Club, she was on the staff of their Valley Views newsletter.

Helen now attends classes at the USF Lifetime Learning program, studying ‘Great Books’ and Creative Writing; her memoirs are the current writing project.  She is interested in the theatre and subscribes to the Asolo and Florida Studio Theatres.  She also enjoys the Town Hall lecture series.

While she has many happy memories to look back on, she remembers, with special fondness, a ‘home exchange’ with a family from Montremont, France (near Lyon).  Welcomed there by the family and friends of the exchange couple, it was a memorable month.

An active, dynamic woman with an infectious smile, we look forward to Helen Kelly’s involvement in Plymouth Harbor!