Over the next few issues of Harbor Light, The Continuum will feature an article that discusses the full Continuum process here at Plymouth Harbor, through the eyes of a resident’s family member. Please note that this article series is fictional, and is designed to provide a closer, more detailed look at our continuing care philosophy.

Picture1Four years after my father passed, my mother, Jane, who was 76 at the time, decided it was time to start thinking about downsizing. It didn’t happen overnight, but after several talks with my brother and me, she became more comfortable with the idea of giving up her three-bedroom home and living in a place with people closer to her age, a place that offered activities, both intellectual and physical, that promoted social gatherings and friendships, and was there to help her, should the need arise.

She and my father moved from New York to Longboat Key almost 20 years ago when they retired. My brother and I quickly followed suit with our families, wanting to be closer to them when raising our children. Having lived here for some

time, we’d heard of Plymouth Harbor, but it wasn’t until after our tour that we knew it was the perfect place for her. My mother, who is strikingly independent, loved that same quality about Plymouth Harbor – she would have her own apartment, could participate in the activities that she wanted, and could come and go as she pleased. After a few months on the wait list, she got a call about an available apartment in the Tower. Three months later, after selling her home and packing up 20 years worth of furniture and memories, she moved in.

Once settled, she jumped into a number of activities. She also took time to travel – sometimes visiting friends up North in the summers, other times exploring new places with my brother and me and our families. The kids loved coming to visit her apartment on the 17th floor, always admiring her view of the bay. Even though I had no real reason to worry about my mother, I took comfort in the fact that she no longer lived in a big home by herself. The decision to move into a retirement community is a big one, but it is one of the greatest gifts my mother gave to our family. Plymouth Harbor inspired new hobbies, fostered new friendships, and gave us peace of mind.

Five years went by, and after Christmas that year, she became extremely ill from a bacterial infection. We took her to the hospital, where she was treated and released after a few days. Because her case had been so severe, her doctor recommended that she be admitted to Plymouth Harbor’s Smith Care Center for a short time, where someone could be there 24/7, administer the medication she needed, and monitor her progress.

We were so thankful that the Smith Care Center was available to her for that time to recover. After two weeks, she was back in her apartment recuperating. Smith Care Center coordinated with Home Care, and for another two weeks, a nurse came up to her apartment daily to make sure she was eating the right foods and taking the right medication at the right times.

It took her some time to bounce back, but after a month, she made it back to her full self. She was again in good health, and eased back into all of the activities she was a part of before.

Stay tuned to hear more of our fictional Jane’s story in September.

Please join us in extending a huge thank you to Bruce Crawford, Winnie Downes and Carl Denney, and Phil and Barry Starr, all whom recently made legacy gifts to The Plymouth Harbor Foundation. Two of the gifts were made through changing the beneficiaries on a life insurance policy to The Plymouth Harbor Foundation. The third was by naming The Plymouth Harbor Foundation in their will.  We welcome them all into The MacNeil Society, as a result.

Individuals who have thoughtfully included a gift to the Plymouth Harbor Foundation through their estate are part The MacNeil Society. Their gift has been named through a will, gift annuity agreement, trust agreement, life insurance policy, or retirement plan. Currently, there are 19 members of The MacNeil Society, whose consolidated gifts total over $1.4 million. We are extremely grateful for your future gifts to sustain the zest that continues to define the culture of Plymouth Harbor.


There are many forms of philanthropy, but giving of yourself and your talents falls into a special category. If you have ever visited the eTEAM on a Saturday morning, you’ve no doubt met many of the Sarasota area high school students who volunteer here, and make up the eTEAM. These wonderfully talented students assist residents with electronics, such as cell phones, computers, tablets, printers, and various other devices. Currently, we have a team of seven students: Matthew Jacobs, Brandon Kennedy, Tyler Lundy, Paul Nicowski, Natasha Nieckoski, Jared White, and Stephen Yaegers. Each of these students is generous and skilled, and we are ever so grateful for their time. The student with the longest tenure as an eTEAM member is Jared White. He was our first student member, and he has just celebrated two years with us, giving over 130 hours of his time to the eTEAM. This fall, he will be going into his senior year at Suncoast Polytechnical High School. But, do not fret…he is not going away. He’ll be with us until he graduates, we hope. Please enjoy reading a recent conversation I had with Jared.

You recently received a special certification. Can you tell us more about that?
The certifications I recently received are known as the CompTIA A+ and Network+, which are certifications designed to show my skill set in the computer and network technician field, respectively. In addition to the competitiveness of the certifications, they also weight with them an equivalent of 6 months on the job training, of which I credit to the multitude of experiences I achieved through working with the residents living at Plymouth Harbor.

You have been attending Suncoast Polytechnical High School. What attracted you there?
From the beginning of Polytech—the nickname many have coined for Suncoast Polytechnical High School as a result of its length—the idea surrounding the school was to equip students with the tools they need to either go on to be bountiful additions to our community in Sarasota in terms of the workforce or to go onto college equipped with the tools they need to succeed in the modern setting of university life. This initially attracted my sister, Megan White, who attended the school the second year it opened as a member of the class of 2016. Along with the school’s A rating and priority seating at SCTI (now known as STC) my family has always been comfortable with the fact that I had choices when graduating from high school, a choice many don’t have when they graduate.

What has your focus in high school been to this point?
Up to this point, my goal has always been consistently the same, though it has changed from working as a technician in the Sarasota area to attending a university to study computer science, as I still plan to do once I graduate from SPHS. With this degree plan, I plan to move on to working as either a database or network engineer.

Have you enjoyed being an eTEAM member?
Volunteering at Plymouth Harbor has been a great joy, as I have not only been able to expand my customer service and social skills, but also my technical experience with practical problems that I will undoubtedly encounter in the entry-level workforce. I would like to personally thank everyone at Plymouth Harbor for the experiences I’ve had, and hope that my service from here forward will continue to be as meaningful to you as it is to me.

Since 1999, more than 25 scholarships have been awarded through The Mildred and Bernard Doyle Charitable Trust to Plymouth Harbor employees and their children. A result of the deep admiration the Doyles developed for Plymouth Harbor employees during their residency, the trust was established as a means to provide ongoing educational assistance to “a worthy and needy child of an employee of Plymouth Harbor” or “a worthy and needy employee seeking to increase their skills or to obtain a higher education.” Each year, a scholarship committee at Northern Trust Bank, including former Plymouth Harbor executive director Jack Smith, selects two recipients of the $5,000 scholarship. This year, Tara Mitchell and Louise Franca received the prestigious recognition.

Tara Mitchell joined the Smith Care Center as a certified nursing assistant in 2006. With the help of the Doyle Scholarship, Tara plans to complete her associate degree in nursing at the StateCollege of Florida. Once completed, Tara will enroll in the LPN to RN transition program at St. Petersburg College.

scholarships imageLouise Franca is the daughter of Marcos Franca, who has worked as a landscaper at Plymouth Harbor for over seven years. A senior at Manatee High School, Louise has been a Dual Enrollment student at the State College of Florida since her junior year. After graduation, Louise plans to pursue a degree in fashion marketing, first at Tallahassee Community College for her associate degree, then transferring to Florida State University to earn her bachelor’s degree.

Congratulations, Tara and Louise!

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.

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!


Flower-Arrangements-Ideas-648We continue to celebrate National Philanthropy Day with acknowledgments for the many gifts that have come our way thanks to the generosity of our caring community.

Flowers for Mayflower

Flowers continue to bloom in the Mayflower Dining Room as resident Jean Lions adds $2000 to the support of the orchids.  Mrs. Lions’ gift will support the maintenance of the orchids that were initially supported by Addie Hurst and her daughter.  Many thanks, Mrs. Lions and Mrs. Hurst!

Carmichael Collection

We received over $4000 this year from the Ruth Carmichael Fund (a permanently restricted endowment established by Mrs. Carmichael) to benefit Plymouth Harbor.  With this year’s gift, we will add a piece of art to the Wellness Center to continue the Carmichael Collection.  The Carmichael Collection was established in 2013 to honor Mrs. Carmichael’s memory, and her life work Art for Industry, whose mission was to bring modern art to the lobbies and halls of big business in Boston and New York City.  The Carmichael gift supported art in the Mayflower Dining Room in 2013.

Residents Support Scholarships

We are very grateful to the Residents Association, Walter and Gerry Mattson, Kay Bosse, Cynthia Conway, and Jane Smiley who each recently gave to the Employee Assistance-Education Fund to support scholarships.  These and several other gifts to this fund total over $14,000 this year in support of our employees who wish to pursue educational opportunities!

2014_HeartWalk11Caring is a natural part of life at Plymouth Harbor.  When describing the caring bond that exists between residents and staff, we often speak of ‘the Plymouth Harbor Family’.  Many residents express their caring through their commitment to social issues and support of worthwhile initiatives in the Sarasota community and beyond.  Many of our dedicated and caring staff members are also actively involved in supporting local charities and causes.

Giving back . . . paying it forward . . . whatever you choose to call it, it’s a personal commitment to doing what you can to improve the lives of others.  What better way to express that individual commitment to community service than by residents and staff uniting together as the Plymouth Harbor Family in support of worthy causes?

Please join us in our first resident/staff united effort to “give back” by participating in the American Heart Association’s September 20 Heart Walk.  We all have a shared interest in the Heart Association’s mission to reduce disability and deaths caused by cardiovascular disease and stroke.  Cardiovascular disease is preventable, and with our help, the American Heart Association can provide educational and prevention programs to help more Americans control blood pressure, cholesterol, and receive appropriate cardiac care.

The Heart Walk takes place at Payne Park—Sarasota on Saturday, September 20, 2014 at 7:30 am.

If you would like to participate talk to one of our team captains: Jack Denison,  Bert Adams, Amanda Kirk, Fran Vancil or Chris Valuck.


“Plymouth Harbor has been an important asset to Sarasota for almost 50 years now.  My sister’s first job was in the dining room as a server during her high school years.  I am pleased to be able to serve this wonderful organization, as it serves the residents of our community in many ways.”

Carla Plush Smith
Secretary, Plymouth Harbor Foundation Board of Trustees

Carla Smith, founder of Plush Smith PA, is a 25+ year Florida CPA who has an extensive background in tax, estate and personal financial planning.  Carla served on the Board of Trustees of Plymouth Harbor from 2005 to 2011 and served as Board Chair in 2010 and 2011.  A Sarasota native (unique in itself), Carla is a graduate of Leadership Sarasota and has served as an officer and director on numerous community boards.  She is a graduate of the University of Florida with a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting, and a Master’s in Mental Health Counseling from the University of South Florida.  Carla has also earned designations as a CFP, PFS, CLU, and ChFC and has held her private pilot and nautical captain’s licenses.  She and her husband, Peter, enjoy three grown sons and a golden doodle, are members of the Sarasota Field Club, and enjoy boating, water skiing, and travelling.