National Philanthropy Day is celebrated across the country on November 15 as a means to recognize and pay tribute to the great contributions that philanthropy—and those people active in the philanthropic community—have made to our lives, our communities and our world. This official day of recognition is formally supported by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) and hundreds of other nonprofit and for-profit organizations throughout North America. In fact, more than 100 communities and 50,000 people around the world participated in NPD events and celebrations.

This year, The Plymouth Harbor Foundation chose two separate occasions to thank the many recent and historical donors who have generously supported the mission of Plymouth Harbor to nurture a compassionate, caring community filled with that zest for life.

National Philanthropy Day Luncheon

The first event we participated in was the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ (AFP) 28th annual luncheon at Michael’s on East, where over 500 people gathered to celebrate the philanthropists in the county who give of themselves and their treasures to make our county the best it can be.

This year, the Plymouth Harbor Foundation sponsored a table to recognize our resident Joanne Hastings and her gift to the Foundation to support the Wellness Center Renovation.  Mrs. Hastings was among a small group of seven notable philanthropists well known in our community who were each nominated for the honor of Outstanding Individual Philanthropist.

Among them was Charlie Huisking, whose mother resided at Plymouth Harbor until her passing.  Others were Graci and Dennis McGillicudy, Drs Bob and Patricia Gussin, Alfred and Jean Weidner Goldstein, and Dr. Philip and Nancy Kotler.

Celebrating the Spirit of Philanthropy

The second big event was our own first Spirit of Philanthropy Celebration on November 14 held at Plymouth Harbor in the Mayflower Dining Room and Plymouth Rock Café. Over 175 guests came together to help celebrate the impact philanthropy has had on life at Plymouth Harbor over the years.

Our dining services amazed us once again with a spectacular dinner buffet with carving stations.  The bar staff was kept busy while live music drew dancers to our beautiful and portable dance floor in the Plymouth Rock Café. We can thank our dancing Starrs, resident philanthropists Phil and Barry, for the dance floor!

The centerpiece of the evening was the premiere of the first Plymouth Harbor Foundation video to honor the rich heritage of philanthropy at Plymouth Harbor.

It was truly an amazing celebration sponsored by our local Northern Trust, for which we are sincerely grateful.

Top right: Joanne Hastings

Middle right: L to R: Gene Heide, Nancy Hobson, Janey & Jon Swift, Celia Catlett & Harry Hobson

Right: L to R: Glenn Shipley, Barbara Lane, Diane Muir, Phil Delaney, President, Mary Pat McNally, Lori Sutton & Rick Gomez.


Originally from Hungary, Ibolya Elizabeth Acs, is known to her Plymouth Harbor family as Liz, a dedicated member of the housekeeping and laundry operations staff.  Liz has been a resident of the USA since 1984, and prior to coming to Plymouth Harbor, she worked at Kobernick House and Kensington Manor.  Starting as a full time Housekeeper in May 2005, Liz has since transferred to Plymouth Harbor’s laundry operation demonstrating her flexibility and ability to multi-task, a quality noted often in her appraisals.

Frequently recognized for her great attitude, her supervisors describe Liz as cooperative, knowledgeable, helpful, and always on the go. “Liz loves to keep busy.  She can work in any area, from cleaning apartments to laundry.  She takes pride in her work.  She enjoys her job very much and will go above and beyond our expectations.”

Residents and co-workers, who frequently award her Shining Stars, often point out the cooperative and kind demeanor that Liz always displays. For many reasons, including her great attitude and willingness to go the extra mile, Liz has been honored as the December 2013 Plymouth Harbor Employee of the Month.

Liz can feel proud of her accomplishments at Plymouth Harbor. Even more, as one co-worker observed, “We know she feels very proud to be part of the Plymouth Harbor family.”

By Isabel Pedersen

Someone may have moved into Plymouth Harbor knowing more people here than Carolyn Albrecht does- but I doubt it.

When Carolyn talks about her bridge groups, some of our residents are members.  Her mah jong games were at Plymouth Harbor.  She played golf with some of us, she worked with others of us at the Longboat Key Library, still others at the old Pelican Man Bird Sanctuary.  Only at the Cat Depot were there few human friends.  Her task, socializing nasty cats so they could be adopted, was a truly solitary pursuit.

Carolyn was born in St. Louis, moved on to Mt. Vernon, New York, and then Plymouth, Massachusetts where she went to high school.  After graduating from Colby College in Maine, she, along with most of our age group, found a secretarial job, at Merrill Lynch.  That would have worked out better if she had ever really learned to type.  So, surprise, she got bumped to the Personnel Department.

Other jobs where her so-so typing skills were utilized included working for a PR firm during Sen. Irving Ives’ campaign for governor of New York, for the Imperial Commodities Corporation in New York and the Overlook Hospital in Summit, New Jersey.

After marriage to Phil Albrecht, a research analyst on Wall Street, she lived in Westfield, New Jersey for 30 years while they raised two sons and a daughter.  These, in turn, produced seven grandchildren.

Longboat Key was the Albrecht choice when they moved to Florida.  For 29 years, they lived in condos among friends who now, no surprise, live at Plymouth Harbor.

Carolyn stayed at the Players Club after she lost her husband, in 2006.  That is, she stayed until she decided to join dozens of her friends at Plymouth Harbor.  Now, except when she is at her summer  home in the Poconos, she is here where she is adding new friends to her huge list.

Asked about life-long passions, Naomi Wittenberg gives what some would consider a conventional response for a woman. “My husband,” she answered, speaking of Simeon “Sim” Wittenberg, the man with whom she traded insults on first meeting and later shared 62 years of marriage together.

However, Naomi is far from a conventional woman, whatever that is. A self-declared feminist schooled at Boston University, she and her husband were equal in all their endeavors.  Deep love, enduring partnerships and the resourceful strength of the immigrant experience are her family heritage, so it’s not surprising to find all these qualities in her description of her own married life. Naomi says Sim, now seven years gone, was a stimulating companion and her one passion to the end.  Her eyes say he still is.

Partners in parenting, they raised two smart, strong daughters in Syosset, Long Island in New York.   They were very involved in their community, and the schooling of their daughters. For many years, Sim was the President of the Central School District #2 and Naomi was a leader in the New York State PTA.

They were business partners as well throughout those years building Wit-Craft Electric Corporation from the ground up.  Sim was the technical lead while Naomi led the business side, yet they taught each other all they knew and built Wit-Craft as a team.  Naomi understood the business inside and out and became quite comfortable in the world of electrical systems, motors and controls. Her no-nonsense confidence earned respect and the business of men who were at first ready to discount this woman in a man’s role.

After 35 years they sold the business so they could travel the world, which they did for another 20 years.  One glance around Naomi’s East Garden home is a tour of many cultures and includes a collection of original art by Bjørn Wiinblad, a renowned Danish designer and artist in ceramics, silver, bronze, textiles, and graphics.  She confesses that as an ardent Fund Shop shopper, she’s picked up many other treasures of which she is fond.

When Sim and Naomi moved to Sarasota in 1998, they found another world in which they could indulge a shared passion – theatre.  Sarasota’s rich theatre culture afforded them the opportunity to both support this favorite art form, as well as participate.  As members of the Asolo (Rep)Theatre Guild,  they were instrumental in the activities of the Guild Play Readers group.

“Sim loved acting.  He was a ham, and I was organized,” said Naomi. “We presented readings throughout the community to promote the Asolo, and,” she emphasized, “most importantly, to raise funds making it possible for public school students to attend live, professional theatre performances.”

Children, business, travel and now, theatre, had become the focus of their intensely involved lives together. “Sim loved acting, and I was organized,” said Naomi.  They moved into Plymouth Harbor together in August of 2006 only to be shocked shortly thereafter with news that Sim was gravely ill.  January 2007 found Naomi broken hearted.  The couple had looked forward to joining the Plymouth Harbor Players, but she was not ready to take the stage alone.  One year later it was a different story.

By the 2008-2009 theatre season, Naomi stepped in to adapt, produce and direct “The Cynthia Caper,” an early script by Howard Biermann, the resident who had written 19 of the 28 original plays performed annually by the troupe over the years.

The indomitable Naomi continues to follow this passion, now entering her seventh season with the Plymouth Harbor Players as the producer that pulls everything together. Her partners in theatre crime are now Peg and Don Wallace and they have great plans for this year’s production.

“The Stash on the 17th Floor,” another script by Don Wallace, includes multi-media surprises.   There will be no formal auditions this year, but rather residents are invited to gather on Tuesday, December 10 and Wednesday, December 11 from 2 to 4 pm in the Mezzanine conference room where there will be informal readings of the play and a discussion of all the roles, on-stage and off-stage, available.  This means the readings are not just for actors, but also for anyone wanting to serve backstage with props, lighting, prompting, costumes, or any other supporting crew role.

The performances will be at 8 pm on Tuesday, February 25, and at 2 and 8 pm on Wednesday, February 26.

Producing the Plymouth Harbor plays is a lot of hard work, but Naomi probably enjoys that collaborative effort as much as the audience enjoys the result.  It’s clear that she’s not one to do anything half-heartedly. Committed and passionate about her family – daughters, granddaughters, and great-grandchildren – as well as political and community matters, Naomi knows what is important in her life.


Join your fellow residents for line dancing every Tuesday and Thursday from 11:00-11:30 a.m. in the Group Fitness Room.  It’s never too late to start!  We will teach you the steps to every dance . . . at your pace.

Through dancing, you will improve your cardiovascular endurance and balance.  A study in the Journal of Women and Aging interviewed 30 adults over the age of 60 who regularly line dance.  Results of the interviews showed that “line dancing enabled these women to expand their repertoire of social activity, leading to positive reinforcements such as further community involvement, charitable work, inclusion in national sports events, self-expression, and personal development. The impact of line dancing plainly goes beyond the perceived physical benefits.”

Plymouth Harbor residents who regularly participate in the class claim their balance has noticeably improved since they began line dancing!

Reference: Nadasen, K. (2008). “Life Without Line Dancing and the Other Activities Would be Too Dreadful to Imagine”: An Increase in Social Activity  for Older Women. Journal Of Women & Aging, 20(3/4), 329-342.

By Becky Pazkowski

On September 17, several of our local experts came together in Pilgrim Hall to share with us the importance of our bay area and why what we are doing on the peninsula is critical to the preservation of Sarasota Bay.  Those experts, Sara Kane from the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, Damon Moore from the Ecological Resources Program in Manatee County, and Jeanne Dubi of the Sarasota Audubon Society educated us on the characteristics of Sarasota Bay and some of the critical issues around our local habitat and bird rookery.  Below is a summary of why those experts called us (and I use their word) AWESOME.

First, a little education . . . a watershed is the area of land that provides water flow from higher elevation to larger water bodies at the bottom of a drainage basin.  Our Sarasota Bay Watershed covers 250 square miles and is the home to 500,000 people.  Estuaries are semi-enclosed areas, such as bays and lagoons, where freshwater mixes with salt water from the sea.  Estuaries are an important resource because they create more food per acre than the richest farmland.  Sarasota Bay Estuary is the home to more than 1400 native species of diverse plants and animals.

What has been happening to our Bay to get our attention?  Well, several things, including storm water pollution, loss of habitat, loss of wetlands, diminished sea grass, and diminished hard bottom.  The reason that we are called “awesome” by the local experts has to do with the second point—loss of habitat—and here’s why.  Our peninsula was once considered a natural habitat to native Florida plants and birds.  Over the years, plantings, development, erosion, droughts, and major storms have affected the balance of this natural habitat.  Plants have ceased to grow because of the proliferation of invasive trees, which decrease the insect, bird, and animal population, all of which throws off the balance.  The goal of our peninsula restoration is to remove invasive plantings and replace them with natural and native plants as part of a long-term effort to restore its natural ecosystem.

Is it working?  Yes, but it takes time.  The removal of a significant amount of Australian pines has been a large part of the project.  A-pines are not native to Florida, provide no growth under their canopy, and have very shallow root systems that break or uproot under storm pressure.  They are good for shade and bird nesting, but that is about all.  The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has prohibited the importation or cultivation of these trees in an effort to eradicate them.  By removing the A-pines, new growth is developing.

What about the birds?  There are only three rookeries in Sarasota County: Roberts Bay, Venice Rookery, and Plymouth Harbor.  Rookeries are important because they provide nesting and roosting opportunities.  Sarasota County has 268 regularly occurring bird species.  Of those, 106 breed here in the county, about 15 breeders use rookeries and, of those, 11 or so breed at Plymouth Harbor.  Since 2012, there had been a rapid decline in birds coming to nest and roost at Plymouth Harbor.  Jeanne Dubi announced that bird counts over the summer increased from 133 in January to 429 in mid-September.  This increase has been encouraging and we hope to see more increases over time.

We were applauded for our work in restoring the peninsula and continuing to be good stewards of our bay.  In a word, we’re AWESOME!

Chris and Karen Romig, a classically trained flute and piano duo, have been performing together for 15 years.  Plymouth Harbor audiences enjoy many performances throughout the year by visiting artists. The Romig Duo’s concert on Thursday, November 21 at 7:45 pm in Pilgrim Hall is yet another example of gracious living.

Karen Romig has played in orchestras in California and Florida and over the years has won many awards in prestigious competitions. She studied with Arthur Hoberman of the 20th Century-Fox studio orchestra and continued studies with Bonita Boyd, Julius Baker, Anne Giles, Amy Porter, Rhonda Larson, and Carol Wincenc. She has also been a featured soloist Crystal Cathedral, the Palos Verdes Peninsula Young Artists Music Festival, and with the Venice Symphony.

As an ordained minister at Venice Presbyterian, Chris uses his keyboard skills at special services as well as often accompanying his wife.  Together they provide a charming program of uplifting entertainment and dazzling virtuosity.

Their program:

  •  Wilhelm Popp:  La Chasse (Galop Brillante for Flute and Piano)
  • Gabriel Faure:  Morceau De Concours
  • Ian Clarke:  Sunstreams
  • Ernesto Nazareth: I Caught You Cavaquinho!
  • Rhonda Larson:  The Way of the River
  • Claude Bolling:  Madrigal (from “Picnic Suite”)
  • Andrae Crouch (arranged by Joel Raney):  Soon and Very Soon
  • Paul Taffanel:  Fantasie on Themes from the Opera Francoise de Rimini
CDS on sale after the one hour concert – “Flute and Piano Music from Around the World” and the newly released “A Joyous Christmas.”