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.


Ted RehlNow hear this . . . Hearing loss is not just an age issue. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders  “approximately 17 percent (36 million) of American adults report some degree of hearing loss.”    Furthermore, a 2011 report based on audiometric testing of Americans 12 and older in the National Health and Nutritional Examination Surveys (NHANES) states that 30 million Americans have at least a 25 db hearing loss in both ears and 48 million in one or both ears.

Pilgrim Hall Now Looped In

Of course, Plymouth Harbor is committed to provide resources and technology that can enhance quality of life for all residents. In fact, in many cases, the generous gifts of donors to the unrestricted fund of the Plymouth Harbor Foundation make improvements in quality of life possible.

Thanks to those donors of unrestricted gifts, the next time you attend a performance or event in Pilgrim Hall, you will be able to flip the T-Coil switch on your hearing aid and the sound will be much improved!

What is a hearing loop and how does it work?

A hearing loop is a wire connected to an electronic sound source that transmits that sound to the telecoil in a hearing aid or cochlear implant. A loop can discreetly surround a room, a chair in your home, or even be worn around the neck. Hearing loops can be connected to a public address system, a living room TV, a telephone (land line and cellular), or any source that produces sound electronically.

A hearing aid and most cochlear implants equipped with a manually controlled T-Switch is all that is required to hear in a hearing loop. The telecoil or T-coil receives the signal from the loop and turns it back into sound in the hearing aid, eliminating the background noise.

For the listener, they simply switch their T-coil on and the sound is heard directly into their hearing device, clear as a bell. No background noise or interference. If the listener prefers to hear surrounding sounds, they only need to switch their hearing device to M/T. It’s that simple!

loopWhy are hearing loops needed? Don’t hearing aids enable hearing?

Today’s digital hearing aids enhance hearing in conversational settings.  Yet for many people with hearing loss the sound becomes unclear when auditorium or TV loudspeakers are at a distance, when the context is noisy, or when room acoustics reverberate sound.  A hearing loop magnetically transfers the microphone or TV sound signal to hearing aids and cochlear implants that have a tiny, inexpensive “telecoil” receiver.  This transforms the instruments into in-the-ear loudspeakers that deliver sound customized for one’s own hearing loss.

How many hearing aids have the telecoil (t-coil) receptor for receiving hearing loop input?

In surveys of hearing professionals, the Hearing Journal (April, 2009) reported that 58% of hearing aid fittings included a telecoil, an increase from 37% in 2001.  In its 2009/2010 reviews of hearing aid models, the Hearing Review Products reported that 126 (69%) of 183 hearing aid models—including all 38 in-the-ear models and 29 of 30 conventional behind-the-ear models—come with telecoils.  In 2014, the Consumer’s Guide to Hearing Aids reported that 323 of 415 hearing aid models (71.5%) were now coming with telecoils, as were 81% of models larger than the miniaturized completely-in-the-canal aid.  Moreover, the greater people’s need for hearing assistance, the more likely they are to have hearing aids with telecoils—as did 84 percent of Hearing Loss Association of America members in one survey.  New model cochlear implants also offer telecoils.

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)



HarryHobson2Harry Hobson, Vice Chair Trustee

It is especially rewarding for me to serve on this Foundation Board, as I have had an opportunity to experience life at Plymouth Harbor for 10 years, and can now witness what philanthropy can do to make life here better and better!”

Harry Hobson has been president and CEO of Plymouth Harbor on Sarasota Bay for 10 years.  During his career, he has worked in both hospital and retirement community administration. Prior to his arrival at Plymouth Harbor, he was the President and CEO of Westminster-Canterbury Retirement Community of Irvington, Virginia, and First Community Village of Columbus, Ohio. Mr. Hobson received Masters Degrees in both Business Management and Healthcare Administration from Central Michigan University, and completed gerontological studies at George Washington University. He holds nursing home administrator licenses in Florida and Ohio.  Harry has been widely recognized throughout the industry, having received the 2013 Executive of the Year award from LeadingAge Florida, and while in Ohio, earned the Professional of the Year and Award of Honor from LeadingAge Ohio.  He has just completed his second term on the Florida Governor’s Continuing Care Advisory Board.  As a faculty member at The Ohio State University, he lectured on Long Term Care Policy and Executive Leadership.

He and his wife Nancy live in Sarasota, with their very special black lab Bridgett.  They have 5 children and 3 grandchildren.  Harry and Nancy plan to someday become residents of Plymouth Harbor.

Garry_JacksonGarry Jackson, Treasurer,  Vice Chair

“Serving on the Foundation Board gives me great pleasure.  Having been the CFO at Plymouth Harbor for 17 years, I have seen gifts come into Plymouth Harbor, some very significant.  Now with the Foundation in place, we are able to build and expand our support from philanthropy in new and greater ways.”

Garry Jackson is the Senior Vice President and CFO of Plymouth Harbor on Sarasota Bay.  He has worked at Plymouth Harbor since March of 1997. Prior to his career in healthcare, Garry lived and worked in New York City where he was the Controller & Director of Financial Planning at New York Law School for nine years and at the investment-banking firm of Rothschild, Inc. as the Assistant Vice President of Finance & Administration for six years. He holds a Master’s Degree in Business Management from California Southern University at Irvine, CA.

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!

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!