Back in February, we reflected on the spirit of philanthropy – that only through helping one another and uniting our efforts, can we truly make a difference in the world, and in turn, create a better tomorrow for our children. One of the primary reasons people engage in philanthropy is the desire to make an impact on someone’s life. In 2012, The Plymouth Harbor Foundation was founded to ensure the appropriate stewardship of funds contributed to Plymouth Harbor, provide funding for innovative programs and services, and guarantee that these gifts are able to make that desired impact.

This year, with the help of The Foundation’s 2014 Impact Report, we wanted to share with you the far-reaching impact that your gifts have made, not only within the Plymouth Harbor community, but also the greater Sarasota community.  The report includes heartwarming stories of families that overcame overwhelming obstacles, residents and donors that contributed unbelievably generous gifts, countless hours of volunteer service, and much more.

Here are a few highlights from the 2014 report:

  • Over $541,000 was donated in gifts to The Foundation.
  • Residents and employees of Plymouth Harbor contributed 10,486 hours of volunteer services to nearly 70 different organizations in the Sarasota area.
  • 14 individuals became members of The MacNeil Society (those who included a gift to The Foundation in their estate through a will, gift annuity agreement, trust arrangement, life insurance, or retirement plan).
  • Gifts By Source Vs. Gift By Fund

impact report image

If you have a minute, take some time to read the full impact report, found here. You’ll be amazed by the generous gifts and inspiring stories found here at Plymouth Harbor.

Last Friday, May 29, 2015, we celebrated Plymouth Harbor’s first annual MacNeil Day! The inaugural event was sponsored by The Plymouth Harbor Foundation as means of celebrating our founder, The Reverend Dr. John Whitney MacNeil, born on May 29, 1911. As we near the milestone of our 50th Anniversary next year, it was only fitting to honor Dr. MacNeil and celebrate the past, present, and future of our thriving community.

The commemorative event took place in Pilgrim Hall, where nearly 150 residents and guests gathered to view a presentation by Harry Hobson, President & CEO, Plymouth Harbor. The presentation first reflected on Dr. MacNeil’s vision for Plymouth Harbor, which was realized on January 15, 1966, when Plymouth Harbor first opened its doors to community residents, then transitioned into present and future initiatives.

The presentation also included a video (shown below) containing heartfelt testimonials from historic community icons, including Tom Elliott, Plymouth Harbor’s first third-generation resident, and Judith MacNeil Merrill, the late Dr. MacNeil’s wife, now a resident of Plymouth Harbor. As Judith puts it, “John never lived here, but I live here now. It has come full circle.”

We look forward to MacNeil Day 2016, where we will celebrate Plymouth Harbor’s 50th Anniversary! To learn more about The Reverend Dr. John Whitney MacNeil, click here.

CaptureSARASOTA, June 4, 2015Plymouth Harbor on Sarasota Bay, a not-for-profit continuing care community of distinction for older adults, celebrated its first annual MacNeil Day on Friday, May 29, 2015. The inaugural event was sponsored by The Plymouth Harbor Foundation as means of celebrating the organization’s founder, The Reverend Dr. John Whitney MacNeil, born on May 29, 1911.

As it nears the milestone of its 50th Anniversary next year, Plymouth Harbor honored its founder and celebrated the past, present, and future of the thriving community. The commemorative event took place in Plymouth Harbor’s Pilgrim Hall, where nearly 150 residents and guests alike gathered to view a presentation hosted by Harry Hobson, President, CEO, Plymouth Harbor. The presentation first reflected on Dr. MacNeil’s vision for Plymouth Harbor, which was realized on January 15, 1966, when Plymouth Harbor first opened its doors to community residents, then transitioned into present and future community initiatives.

Also included in the presentation was a video containing heartfelt testimonials from historic community icons, including Tom Elliott, Plymouth Harbor’s first third-generation resident, and Judith MacNeil Merrill, the late Dr. MacNeil’s wife, now a resident of Plymouth Harbor. As Judith puts it, “John never lived here, but I live here now. It has come full circle.”

Following the presentation, guests were invited to continue the MacNeil Day celebration with a cocktail reception in Plymouth Harbor’s East Garden Atrium.

“Plymouth Harbor is a story of a man’s vision and leadership that ignited the passion of others to create a community for older adults where they could live, grow, and age with both grace and dignity. That vision continues today,” says Hobson.
The vision of Dr. MacNeil indeed continues today. Not only has Plymouth Harbor remained an icon for positive aging throughout the nation, it has created a wealth of growth within the local community. While residents and employees enjoy an active lifestyle on the Plymouth Harbor campus, they also contribute in myriad ways to the greater Sarasota community. In 2014 alone, Plymouth Harbor residents and staff completed 10,486 hours of volunteer service, as indicated in The Plymouth Harbor Foundation 2014 Impact Report. Of those 10,000 plus hours, they contributed to nearly 70 different organizations in need, including All Faiths Food Bank, Meals on Wheels, Mote Marine, Children’s Welfare, and many more.

As Plymouth Harbor nears its 50th anniversary, the organization will continue to promote community involvement, enhance life both within and without Plymouth Harbor, and build upon Dr. MacNeil’s dream for a retirement community of distinction. To learn more about Plymouth Harbor, visit

About Plymouth Harbor on Sarasota Bay                                                                                                                                                                                                    Plymouth Harbor on Sarasota Bay, founded in 1966, operates as a not-for-profit continuing care retirement community (CCRC) for 300 residents and is centrally located on the Bay between Bird Key and St. Armands Circle with vistas of the Gulf, Bay, and the city of Sarasota. It offers customized independent living residences, home care, assisted living, and skilled nursing and rehabilitation therapy services in the Smith Care Center. The Plymouth Harbor Foundation was established in 2012 to further ensure the appropriate stewardship of contributed funds, develop fundraising strategies that support the most positive aging experience possible, and provide funding for innovative programs and services in the region. Please visit or for more information.



macneillOn May 29, the Plymouth Harbor community and friends will celebrate The Reverend Dr. John Whitney MacNeil with a tribute presentation and cocktail reception.  The evening will begin at 4:00 p.m. in Pilgrim Hall with a program that will give a closer look at this special man and his vision.

Our founder, The Reverend Dr. John Whitney MacNeil, born on May 29, 1911, was a visionary, a leader, and deeply rooted in the values of the United Church of Christ.  It was said of him that he would never reach the peak of his ambitions.  However, he always had goals and he always achieved them.

Two of his very large, ambitious goals in Sarasota were to establish a college of quality and a retirement community of distinction.  We now have New College of Florida and Plymouth Harbor, thanks to Dr. MacNeil and his leadership.

His widow, Judith Merrill, is still a resident of Plymouth Harbor and was recently featured in one of our Zest for Life stories.

If you are not a resident or otherwise affiliated with Plymouth Harbor and would like to learn more, contact Becky Pazkowski at 941-361-7398.


Gifts of doors and windows sounds poetic and might point to gifts as doors and windows opening up new opportunities. But today, we truly are talking about physical doors and windows that will enhance quality of life at Plymouth Harbor.



It gives us great pleasure to thank Graham (Barky) and Pat Barkhuff for their gift to support new entrance doors in the MacNeil Chapel.  The new doors will be made of beautiful mahogany, and will feature stained glass inserts as shown to the right. The entire project, including the fabrication of the wood doors (which will be created by Barky), has been supported by the Barkhuffs.  Their gift has been given in loving memory of their children Andy and Pammy.  Please join us in thanking Barky and Pat for their generosity.  The new doors will be installed this month.




We are extremely grateful to Jeanne McNulty, who has made a gift to support new stained glass coverings for the windows immediately to the left as you enter the Chapel.  The new glass will complement the existing windows near the altar, as well as the new Chapel doors.  Jeanne has made this gift in loving memory of her late husband, Robert McNulty.  At left is an artist’s concept of the new glass.  It is important to note that the colors will match the vibrancy of the existing windows.   We hope to see the new windows installed sometime this summer.


Have you seen this colorful new piece of art on the south wall of the Wellness Center corridor?


This beautiful piece of art was made possible through the Ruth Carmichael endowed gift, the income from which we receive annually through the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.

Ruth Carmichael, a Plymouth Harbor resident from 1990 through 1998, was known for a business she created called Art for Industry, where she brought modern art to the lobbies and halls of big business in Boston and New York.  Through her gift, we created The Carmichael Collection that will be expanded annually through this fund, in honor of its benefactor.

We are happy to continue Mrs. Carmichael’s vision here at Plymouth Harbor.

By Becky Pazkowski

We are very thankful for unrestricted gifts to the Foundation General Fund, as we are able to use these gifts for special needs as they arise. Below are several items that have been supported through unrestricted gifts to the Foundation.

Thank you, Donors!



A New Cadillac We received a very generous gift toward the purchase of an additional pre-owned sedan at the end of 2014. This gift accounted for two-thirds of the total cost of that sedan and we were able to add the additional funds needed for the purchase from our General Fund. The final result is a certified, pre-owned 2013 Cadillac XTS, with less than 13,000 miles! This addition now brings our fleet of sedans to three, allowing Transportation to expand services for our residents. The next time you schedule a ride in one of Plymouth Harbor’s three Cadillacs, say a special thanks to our donors for making that possible.

By Becky Pazkowski

“I got it, we had to help each other. We had to work together to get the power on and for things to be made right. We had to give to our neighborhood and to people who were in worse shape than we were. Then our faith and hope returned.” 

The above quote, from a woman named Veronica who survived Hurricane Katrina, is taken from the book Inspired Philanthropy written by Tracy Gary.  But, in reality, it could be from someone from the northern states last winter, when the coldest arctic blasts and mounds of snow paralyzed the residents for weeks.  Or, it could be from a Florida resident during 2004 Hurricane Charley.  It could be from someone who witnessed the horror of September 11, 2001.  It could be from a survivor of any of the devastating tsunamis that have affected the world.

The point is that when needs arise, we pull together as a human race, and we get through it.  We get through it by helping one another, and as a result of our united efforts, we know that tomorrow will be better.  As Veronica states above:  then our faith and hope returns.

I am repeatedly impressed and ever so grateful to the hundreds of donors who have contributed to the Plymouth Harbor Foundation, and who continue to renew our faith and hope that we together are stronger than any one of us alone.  It is my pleasure to report the ongoing generosity that funds our programs and services, continuing to make life good, better, and best at Plymouth Harbor. We look forward to sharing our full Impact Report for 2014 with you next month!

 Number of donors who give each year

Important to the success of any philanthropy program are loyal donors who return year after year.  Below is a graph showing numbers of those who gave in both years 2012 and 2013, and an increasing number who gave in 2013 and again in 2014.  Thank you for your loyalty!

Number of donors Cost to Raise









Gifts by Source (Percent of Total Dollars By Source)


Gifts by Fund (Total Dollars By Fund)




“It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”  –  Kahlil Gibran


Peggy & Don Wallace, George Heitler & Joe DevoreRecently, George Heitler was recognized by the Smith Care Center for his 14 years of service as the creator, director, and recruiter of the monthly Birthday Bash!  Actually, for anything musical, George has been the star organizer for the benefit of the Smith Care Center, and he led sing-alongs in Plymouth Harbor when the Café was a lounge.  He is well-known for his rendition of the classic “Old Man River.”


isabel scullIsabel Scull has a kind and generous soul, and has been sharing a touch of that kindness every Tuesday for over 13 years in the Smith Care Center.  Isabel would welcome, serve, and socialize with the SCC residents during their weekly “Happy Hour.” Sometimes, just showing a little kindness is the most precious gift one can give.


Joan RungeJoan Runge would describe herself as someone with no talents.  But, we are here to tell you that Joan has a closet full of talents and she is so generous to share them.  Some of these talents you no doubt are familiar with, but you may not know that she has been calling bingo twice a month for 13 years in the Smith Care Center!  This has been quite a long-run act of kindness, and one very much appreciated by our residents.


Van ArsdaleBuzz VanArsdale is an active guy, to say the least.  A kayaker and a cyclist, he has happily taken on the task of coordinating the placement of the kayaks and canoes on the peninsula.    A consummate cyclist, he lends his talented hand to keep the bicycles of several residents running in tip-top shape!  In fact, Buzz also shares his bicycle repair skills with the Resurrection House in Sarasota, making sure they are in good working order for their clients to travel to and from the jobs they have been able to secure.  What a wonderful service he provides throughout our community!


HeideGene Heide is spending his retirement career as a woodworker.  With his superb skills, Gene spends hours in the Wood Shop, creating, repairing, and crafting projects for Plymouth Harbor and residents.  He doesn’t just repair the furniture, he makes it better than it was!  Gene also has the creative skills in his craft.  He just completed a parallel storage unit for the artists in the Art Studio, and installed extensive shelving in the Resident Services work room.  He built a new lectern that is being used in the Wellness Center, and he crafted and installed communion receptacles on each of the chairs in the Chapel.  And, he does this all because he loves it!


StarrPhil Starr has been sharing his photography and videography skills since 2012.  It wasn’t until after he retired and the Starrs moved to Plymouth Harbor that he discovered his gift with a camera.  Shortly after they became residents, Phil and Barry wandered the campus, taking photos of our lush grounds and beautifully decorated interiors.  He put the photos into DVD format and added music, and that video is now being used in our marketing department to portray our spectacular views.  His current project is videotaping fitness classes in the Wellness Center; DVDs will be available soon.  Phil has become the official videographer for productions in Pilgrim Hall.  We are very fortunate to have Phil here, sharing his never-ending talents, all to the betterment of our community!


mead2Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” 

This month on November 15 we celebrate National Philanthropy Day across the country.  National Philanthropy Day is a special time set aside to recognize the great contributions of philanthropy, and those people active in the philanthropic community, to the enrichment of our world.

We extend our heartfelt thanks to the volunteers and donors whose contributions have made so many things possible, and have quite literally changed Plymouth Harbor.  From flowers in the dining room to a brand new Wellness Center, there is much that has been accomplished, and still more that can be done.  Thank you for enriching our world!