Spirit of Philanthropy

By Becky Pazkowski

I am happy to say that I have met with a total of 130 residents at Plymouth Harbor since last June (just about half of our total population).  Meeting all of you continues to be my favorite part of my job . . . learning about you, your family, your career, your travels, your hobbies and passions, and what led you to Plymouth Harbor. 

I always ask if I can update you on the Foundation, and you always say yes.  Comments that I frequently hear are, “I don’t have much money to give away.”  “I know you are looking for large gifts.”  “I have a big family.”  “The poor market has eaten away at my nest egg.”

My answer is always the same . . . not everyone can make a $1,000,000 gift, but every single gift is significant.  Gift giving is very personal, and should be self-fulfilling.  When you make a gift to a cause, you should feel a sense of satisfaction and warmth having given it. 

My husband and I give to several different causes, and probably the most fulfilling for me is what we give to the music series we helped to establish in Michigan.  It’s personal and it’s emotional, and it should be for you, too.  We have received gifts from many of you recently for various causes; three in particular that I have listed below.  Individual gifts toward these three items alone range from $5 to $500.  Adding them all together, more than 70 individuals made gifts that total over $6,200.David Houle at Plymouth Harbor

Support for the David Houle book “Entering the Shift Age” where $5.00 of each sale benefited the beginnings of a library in the Smith Care Center.  This amounted to $120 total and will go a long way toward the purchase of books and audio books for our nursing and rehab residents.

dance floor at Plymouth Harbor senior living community

Support for the purchase of a portable dance floor at Plymouth Harbor, which will be used  throughout the campus.  The total amount needed is approximately $6,700 and we have support for $5,575 so far.  Only $1,125 is needed until we can purchase the portable dance floor. 

Pianist at Plymouth Harbor senior community

Support for the CD made by Ted and Fran Rehl of Ted’s most recent concert “A Romantic Piano” which featured selections by Schubert, Liszt, Brahms, Grainger, Gershwin, and a group of pieces by Chopin.  The Rehl’s very generously offered this CD for a donation of any amount to benefit the improvement of the arts in Pilgrim Hall, including repair and maintenance of the Steinway piano that they donated.  As of this writing, $580 has been donated toward this cause. 

Now I ask that you consider the number of people that will be touched by the gifts in just these three examples. That would include every single resident now and into the future here at Plymouth Harbor. 

Think what would have happened if each of those 70 people decided not to donate because they thought their gift might be insignificant.  Well, we are very glad that didn’t happen.  We are grateful for every gift that is given, and we hope you will continue to feel the warmth that your gifts have generated.  Thank you for your continued support.

P.S.  If you are interested in support for the improvement of the arts or the portable dance floor, we welcome your gift of any amount.   

By Sallie van Arsdale

A cormorant splashes down beside my kayak.  It swims alongside and is so close I could touch the wet, black feathers.  Its eyes are blue-green, its beak orange tipped with a hook.  Quickly it dives under the boat.  Surfacing on the other side, it is again within reach. 

Only recently have we been favored with this friendly behavior.  There is, of course, an explanation; the cormorant is fishing.  We are in shallow water on a sunny day.  Our kayaks cast shadows which seem to help the birds see their small darting prey.  Apparently, too, cormorants have learned that kayaks are harmless.  They see them nearly every day in the bay off Plymouth Harbor so familiarity has overcome fear, at least for the local, winged divers. 

Although cormorants are experts at fishing, a successful catch can take many tries.  Once it occurs, to see a bird with a beak full carefully maneuver its captured prize into swallowing position and gulp it down is fascinating.  One is tempted to call out, “Congratulations!” despite the fate of the fish. 

Cormorants have to be accomplished underwater swimmers to survive.  Wide, webbed feel propel their streamlined bodies through speedy twists and turns in pursuit of their agile food source.  As a good example of double use, the same feet serve as flying brakes.  When a cormorant on the wing comes in for a water landing, each wide-spread foot is thrust out in front to hit the water first and slow forward motion.  The technique works perfectly and is fun to watch, especially when the splashdown is next to you. 

Our cormorant encounters are a continuing pleasure—even a privilege.  After all, how often does one share, if just for seconds, a degree of closeness with a wild creature?

Photos courtesy of Lou Newman

A Zest for Life Profile

Lest you ever suspect that selling your home and moving to a retirement community like Plymouth Harbor means that life is slowing down, have a chat with Peggy and Don Wallace. A report on their daily activities and active work in the community would leave a 50-year old youngster breathless.  And that’s exactly what happened when I joined them for lunch recently in the Mayflower Dining Room.

From the moment we sat down, they were bubbling with all the reasons they cherish living in the Plymouth Harbor community. But first things first, Peggy and I ordered the seafood wrap while Don ordered a cheeseburger with gusto before we all bolted for the salad bar, one of the best in Sarasota.

We sat down with salad plates heaping and I quickly learned that Peggy and Don had not intended to move into Plymouth Harbor when they did.

“We put our name on a waiting list saying we wouldn’t be ready for another 2-3 years,” said Don.  But when they got a call three months later with the news that a southwest facing apartment on the 12th floor of the tower was available immediately, they put their home on the market and packed their things.  Although it took a year to sell their house just when the marketing dipped, he beamed, “We never regretted it and never looked back.”

In fact, they never missed a beat keeping up with their outside circle of friends and find themselves even more involved in activities than when they had their home on Siesta Key. They keep physically fit by working with Michael in the gym at least twice a week.  Peggy serves on the Library Committee and is getting ready to participate in the project of redecorating their colony common area.  Don is active with the Programming Committee.

“There is so much to do at Plymouth Harbor,” Peggy points out. “If you aren’t active, then you must not want to be!”

Together they are a power couple providing a real professional touch to the annual Plymouth Harbor Players theatrical production. Don is still an active member of the Directors and Writers guilds of America, but doesn’t get paid scale for writing the play for this group of amateur resident thespians.  For the past three years he has written and directed the production.  Peggy had been his stage manager until this most recent production when she was cast in a leading role.

Zest for Life at Plymouth HarborNearly two months of rehearsals for this annual production are an all-consuming business, especially with pros like Don and Peggy at the helm. That professional polish is the result of a life spent in the entertainment business in LA and New York.  Don wrote, directed and produced soap operas such as “The Edge of Night,” “One Life to Live” and “All My Children.”  He was nominated for three Emmy awards for three different episodes of “One Life to Live” and won a Writer’s Guild of America award for an episode of “One Life to Live.”

Both Don and Peggy are musicians; she’s a singer and he’s a horn player.  They sing in the choir at the First Congregational Church and attend the Sarasota Orchestra concerts regularly.  It was great fun to talk about his experiences conducting choirs and our respective views on whether to sing Brahms’ German Requiem in English or the original German.  We could have talked the rest of the afternoon, but not with their busy schedules!

One of their sons lives here in Sarasota, another visited just last month and their granddaughter had just left the day before our meeting after a week’s visit.  Their family enjoys staying at the Lido Beach Resort where Plymouth Harbor residents benefit from a discount rate even during the height of season.

Peggy says that one of the most important factors that make her busy life manageable is the care and attention of all the staff at Plymouth Harbor.  “They take away the little hassles of living,” she shared.  Well, when you are as busy as Don and Peggy involved in activities that feed mind, body and soul, you need every minute you can get for yourself!

By Chris Valuck

Plymouth Harbor CCRC Wellness CenterWith the Board of Trustees’ approval to move forward on the Wellness Center Project, the architectural firm THW Design has been retained and designs are now being prepared to transform the southwest corridor of the ground level of the tower which is the current location of all group classes and now referred to as the “club level.”  Offering something for everyone, the Wellness Center will nurture mind and body by providing opportunity for creative pursuits such as woodworking and art, as well as the physical and social experience of group fitness and after-class socializing.  The Spa will be relocated to the club level to provide massage therapy and facials.

The design of the space will be ‘open concept,’ with windows replacing most of the southwest walls to take advantage of the beautiful waterfront views.  Although the design is open concept, the art studio, woodworking, and the group fitness rooms will be private spaces off the main hub of the center, but still with the ability to appreciate nature through windowed walls.  The art studio will be self-contained with individual studio tables and lockers, as well as an area for art classes.  The woodworking studio will also be part of the design with a designated space.  The Spa will be more easily accessible once relocated to the Wellness Center.  A recreation space is also planned for socializing and interactive sports, i.e., Wii.  The group fitness room will have sound suppression walls, mirrored walls, and hard-surface floors to accommodate many different types of group classes as well as dancing, from line dancing to ballroom.  The cardiovascular and resistance training space will include state-of-the-art equipment such as Nu-steps, elliptical, recumbent bikes, and pneumatic resistance training machines.

Good news!  An additional staff person will be present on the floor to assist residents with orientations to the new equipment, as well as teaching additional group fitness classes.

David Houle, Plymouth Harbor, Senior living communityYou can read his bio, short, sweet and high-impact, on Oprah.com. It says, “David Houle is an award-winning futurist and strategist who has launched successful brands and is an in-demand speaker about the future. He writes the popular futurist blog Evolution Shift and lives his life slightly ahead of the curve.

On his own website, you can browse through a timeline of forecasts that illustrate his on-target futurist thinking as well as his speaking schedule across the globe. And then you can wander onto one of his YouTube channels and get lost in the forest of videos, each one more intriguing than the next.

You might wonder why all of us at Plymouth Harbor feel so proud of David Houle and his success as one of the world’s top ranked futurists and futurist keynote speakers on the world stage.  Well, he’s part of our family.

David’s parents, Bettie and Cyril Houle lived here at Plymouth Harbor from 1987 through 2000 and he visited many times during those years.   And this affiliation ran in the family even earlier as David’s aunt, Hazel Stevens moved into Plymouth Harbor in 1966 and was here for nearly 30 years.

Recently, David has been serving as a Futurist-in-Residence and guest lecturer at the Ringling College of Art + Design and took the opportunity to come visit with us. We talked about his family’s history in Sarasota – his grandfather had helped John Ringling with his development efforts and his father Cyril used to hide away in the old clock tower downtown on the bay front to read books in peace.  You have to smile when thinking of that image.  When Cyril and Bettie moved into Plymouth Harbor, they became instrumental in establishing the Library on the Mezzanine with their gifts of time and funding.  He thought everyone should have the luxury of reading books in peace on the bay front.

David himself grew up in Chicago and experienced over 20 successful years in media and entertainment earning many awards and accolades.  Then he turned to the future and has been speaking about the future for 7 years now. His influential first book The Shift Age was published in 2008 and his second book, Shift Ed: A Call to Action for Transforming K-12 Education, written with Jeff Cobb was published in March 2011. The New Health Age: the Future of Health Care in America, co-authored with Jonathan Fleece, was published by Sourcebooks in January 2012.

His attention at the moment is on his latest book, “Entering the Shift Age” just published by Sourcebooks in January of 2013.  Residents and our Harbor Club members will have the opportunity to learn about the dynamics of this new Shift Age with David Houle in person at the Foundation Forum on Monday, March 25 at 3:00 p.m. in Pilgrim Hall.  He will lead us in a dynamic discussion on our entering the Shift Age, a time of transformation and change. The Foundation Forum is hosted by The Plymouth Harbor Foundation.

To quote from the introduction to his newest book:

David Houle, author, Entering the Shift Age, at Plymouth HarborThis will be one of the most transformative times in history. In the past, man-made developments like tools, machines, and technology defined an age. Today, Houle argues that our own power of conscious connection will fuel the speed of change so much that change itself will become the norm. In this eye-opening and thought-provoking book, Houle identifies and explains the key forces that have shaped our lives thus far—from business to technology to the environment—and how they will continue to affect your world for the next twenty years. Entering the Shift Age is your crucial roadmap to the future.

Are you ready to stretch your perspective far into the future? 

The Spirit of Philanthropy Series by Becky Pazkowski, Vice President of Philanthropy
March 2013

All projects begin with an idea, and that idea typically grows out of a passion that an individual has for something.  For Joanne Hastings, that passion is wellness.

Late in 2011, Joanne approached Harry Hobson regarding her interest in taking the wellness center to the next level.  That “next level” included an expanded fitness area and a group exercise area that would also accommodate a dance studio.  Joanne had previously lived in communities where wellness was prominent and central to the life of the residents.  Also integral to her life were dance lessons, which she mentioned offers an alternative form of exercise with similar benefits to an individual work-out.   Not only was she interested in seeing the program grow, she was also interested in funding a portion of it.

Sharing her vision and her passion, she and Harry went to work on what the possibilities were and how they would be accomplished.  Over the next year many discussions ensued.  Eventually, the project was estimated at $1,000,000 with an additional $150,000 in equipment.  Preliminary conceptual drawings were done by THW Design in Atlanta, and they were shared with Joanne.

After seeing the project start to come alive, and sharing her own ideas about design and color from her professional interior design background, Joanne offered a gift of $300,000 towards the project.  This amount was extremely generous, and we are very grateful and pleased that Joanne’s spirit of philanthropy, combined with proper planning, would culminate in bringing a much needed program to our current and future residents at Plymouth Harbor.  In recognition of her generosity, two rooms will bear Joanne’s name:  the fitness center and the group exercise/dance studio.

Thank you so much, Joanne Hastings, for bringing your passion and philanthropic spirit to Plymouth Harbor!

The Campaign

Over the months, we were able to share this project and its funding needs with individuals who showed a similar interest.  A previous bequest from the Estate of Peggy Bates (former resident of Plymouth Harbor, was also able to be directed to the project.

Plymouth Harbor Wellness Capital CampaignWith the seed already planted by Joanne, the funding began to grow and is now over $867,000 towards the $1,000,000 for the renovation.  A full list of donors to the project is below.  Finding ourselves with more than 85% of the funding complete for the renovation, we approached our Foundation Board of Trustees who approved our first ever, formal capital campaign effort for Plymouth Harbor!  We are seeking an additional $133,000 for renovations, and $150,000 for equipment, to complete the campaign. 

This is a phenomenal project, made possible by phenomenal people.  If you would like to be part of this very exciting, and important project, please contact me at the Foundation Office (Ext. 398), and we can talk about ways in which you could be involved.  Every gift is important and appreciated!

The Donors – Representing $867,000
Estate of Dr. Peggy Bates
Jack Denison
Joe and Laura Devore
John and Alita DeJongh*
Tom Elkind (in memory of Stuart S. and Barbara R. Elkind)*
Suzanne Freund
Joanne Hastings*
Harry and Nancy Hobson
Garry Jackson
Cynthia Lichtenstein and Charles Miller
Gordon and Arlene Okawa
Becky and Paul Pazkowski
Dinah Stamp
Sandy Taylor
Tom Towler and Nancy Lyon
Tena and Tom Wilson

*Represent gifts with associated naming opportunities.

Plymouth Harbor on Sarasota Bay is proud to present Black Orchids, an exhibition of photographs by Ellen Gottlieb Steele, in the Mezzanine Gallery, March 12 – April 22, 2013, with open reception Tuesday, March 12 at 4:30 – 6:00pm.

Ellen Gottlieb Steele has been a printmaker-photographer for many years. Her works hang in many private collections throughout the United States and Europe. In 2006, one of her photographs was chosen to be shown in the S. Dillon Ripley Center at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.  Steele has had two one-woman shows in New York and this is her second show in the Mezzanine Gallery at Plymouth Harbor.

All of the images in this show are photographic. None of them have been altered by any computer-generated process. Their abstract nature is a result of the actual printing process itself. Some of them have been enhanced with the application of watercolor. The photographs were taken in Sarasota at Selby Gardens in 2012.

Black Orchids, an exhibit of photographs by Ellen Gottlieb Steele – at the Mezzanine Gallery at Plymouth Harbor, March 12 – April 22, 2013. Open reception, Tuesday, March 12, 2013, 4:30-6:00pm.

It’s not Broadway, Off or even Off-Off Broadway, but the Plymouth Harbor Players is on a streak of smash hits with this latest production,” The Bride on the 17th Floor.”  This is the fourth in the series of Don Wallace’s “..on the 17th Floor” adventures with residents at, ahem, ‘Puritan Cove,’ where there’s always a bit of humor, and this time, a who-done-it  with some suspense. Did the ending take you by surprise?

The Plymouth Harbor Players - The Bride on the 17th Floor

The Courtroom in "The Bride on the 17th Floor"

The charm of community theatre on any stage is the courage shown by amateurs in the spotlight. Some of the actors in “The Bride…” courthouse scene had to memorize 20 consecutive pages of script and lively dialogue.  That’s a tough assignment, even when you have the safety net of an off-stage prompter.

Those stars included Bill Brackett  as Lionel Willet, the defense attorney, and Arnold Freeman as Philip Bostwick, the accused gold-digger or mourning newlywed, take your pick.  The ornery Judge Stanley L. Bernstein got some extra laughs with Bobby Broderick’s characterization. Heather Shaw played the sharp prosecuting attorney, Leslie Giles.   Stage Manager Jeanne Nunn also provided advice to keep the courtroom scenes realistic.  Former stage manager Peggy Wallace had some fun this year as the ingénue, the lovely and well-to-do Virginia Brown who married Phil and then disappeared on their honeymoon cruise.

Over 25 residents were involved in making this production a success, many of them behind the scenes.  Naomi Wittenberg pulled things together as the producer and several volunteers created sets, managed props and assisted costume changes with limited space and resources.

Plymouth Harbor Players on Stage

Congratulations to the cast & crew!

Anyone involved would quickly credit their success to the inspiring professionalism of the show’s writer and director, Don Wallace, who’s done a bit of this before.  He started working with soap operas on radio and television after WWII. Perhaps you saw his early directing on The Edge of Night,or the two shows that he helped create, All My Children and One Life to Live.

Don says writing the story is not so tough, but directing is exhausting!  There were three rehearsals a week since early January and auditions just before the holidays.

“Our amateur actors have something in common with all the professionals I’ve worked with,” says Don. “As soon as they get the script, they have changes to suggest!”  But seriously, he says it is very meaningful to work with the Plymouth Harbor Players.  Urging them to keep up the pace of action is more of an issue than acting skill or lines, but that’s not the reason this is important.  Both he and his wife Peggy were in agreement, the stimulation of acting keeps everyone young and it’s often a much needed escape from all other daily worries.

Does Don have something in mind for “something on the 17th Floor” for next year? “Perhaps,” laughs Don, “If we’re not on a cruise to Antarctica!”

The Cast

Barry Dobson, CEO – Harry Hobson
Samantha Tobin –  Ann Williams
Lionel H. Willett – Bill Brackett
Philip Bostwick – Arnold Freedman
Chiquita Mathews – Francie Jones
Virginia Brown – Peggy Wallace
Millicent Murgatroid – Anne Moore
Leslie (Les) Giles – Heather Shaw
Bailiff – Louis Schneider
Honeybunch – Carol Lawrence
Jury Foreman – George Spelvin

Kudos to everyone ‘behind the scenes’ as well!  Residents: Naomi Wittenberg, John DeJongh, Bruce Wallace, Peggy Wallace, Jeanne Nunn, Alida DeJongh, Robert Lawrence, Pauline Thoms, Bev Wright, Nancy Gross and Norma Schatz.  Staff:  Maryanne Shorin, Karen Smith, Hugh Kelly and Jeanne MacArthur.

Plymouth Harbor resident Ann Brackett has spent a lifetime believing in the unlimited potential of girls when given the opportunity to grow.  Not so long ago, she was attending the annual Boys & Girls Club Luncheon, one of the largest and most inspiring fundraising events of Sarasota’s very busy “season.” She found herself sitting next to Sue Stewart, who was there representing Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida. Before long, they were sharing their mutual love for the tradition of scouting.

Ann Brackett Donates her Girl Scout uniform

Ann Brackett donates her vintage Girl Scout uniform to the Girl Scouts.

You see, being a Girl Scout when she was a child was so important to Ann that she had kept her uniform, proudly decorated with numerous badges to mark her achievements, in a keepsake box all these years.  An idea sprang out of her chance meeting with Sue: why not donate that uniform, now considered a rare vintage treasure, to the local Girl Scout council?  It was an easy decision to make and before she knew it she was visiting with current Scouts and sharing stories with them while they gazed at the proper dress uniform so different from the simple vests the girls wear today.When Ann was a child, there was a local Girl Scout troop meeting regularly at her church, which was right next to her school in Newton, MA. This made it very convenient for Ann to get involved.  Being an only child, belonging to her Girl Scout troop gave Ann the social interaction she craved. She enjoyed the opportunity it gave her to work with and become friends with girls beyond her circle from school or her neighborhood.

“In Girl Scouts it doesn’t matter what color you are or how you look. You are part of a family and everyone respects you,” adds Ann. “This outstanding organization has made our nation a much better place. Girl Scouts present positive role models, endless possibilities, and a clear path to making dreams come true. The positive influence of Girl Scouts has lasted a lifetime for me.”

Girl Scout uniforms

Over time transformations of the Girl Scout uniform.

Ann was an enthusiastic scout and some of her fondest memories were of summer camp. Each merit badge earned built her confidence and inspired her increased involvement over the years.  She feels it was Girls Scouts that prepared her for an unexpected challenge later in her life when she was called upon to care for her aunt diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

“Girls are strong when they help other people. Girls need to feel a responsibility to care for others and experience the joy that goes along with it,” she comments.

Ann was unexpectedly reunited with her Girl Scout leader, Edna Hockridge, 40 years after her scouting days. She was with her aunt at the doctor’s office, when Mrs. Hockridge, also in the waiting room, recognized Ann’s laugh. It was one of those unexpected, sweet moments to reminisce with her Girl Scout leader all those years later. “I guess I never lost my unique laugh!” exclaimed Ann.

“The staff and current Girl Scouts were thrilled when Ann offered to donate her beautiful, pristine, vintage Girl Scout uniform to Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida. Her gift serves as a reminder to all our girl members and Girl Scout alumnae that Girl Scouting is a lifelong circle of friendship, with shared ideals.

Girl Scout Vest

This junior vest is the Girl Scouts' uniform today.

“The powerful values – courage, confidence and character – are as relevant today as they were in Ann’s day. The insignia, badges and achievements proudly displayed on Ann’s uniform show girls today that what they do matters, and that they can take action to make the world a better place,” shares Sue Stewart, CEO of Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida.

As a result of Ann’s recent connection with the Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida, Plymouth Harbor is now partnering with a member of Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida who is interested in fulfilling her Gold Award by rebuilding the Butterfly Garden, a special feature of Plymouth Harbor’s beautiful campus grounds.

Ann’s story is not unique.  In fact, many of the women living at Plymouth Harbor were Girl Scouts. It seems as if everywhere you turn, you meet women excited to share their memories as a Girl Scout. Whether it’s a fond reflection of their time at camp, a friendship formed fifty years ago that is as strong today as it was then, or the recent memory of a college student whose passion was ignited as a Girl Scout – the stories are everywhere.

We recently received an email from Plymouth Harbor resident Lou Newman with the following note:

I would like to introduce you to “Hootie” and “Hooter”, the two new resident Great Horned Owls at Plymouth Harbor on Sarasota Bay.  Although frequently heard, the owls are rarely visible because they have taken up residence high in the large Banyan tree at the northeast corner of the building. They likely have a nest in this tree; however, it is completely obscured by the dense foliage.  Is Hootie “pregnant? ”Only time will tell!”

Hooter & Hootie are resident Great Horned Owls at Plymouth Harbor.

Image by Lou Newman: Hooter & Hootie are resident Great Horned Owls at Plymouth Harbor

This little note accompanied by a stunning photograph that looks like he was in the tree with the owls is just another run of the mill day for Dr. Lou Newman, retired large animal veterinarian, now professional nature photographer.

Loy Newman with bear

Lou Newman photographing bears in the wild

Lou developed a curiosity about photographic techniques as a teenager, which evolved into a lifelong calling.Photography was a significant activity throughout his years as a rancher and veterinarian in Montana, and became of major importance when he left practice to become a veterinary college faculty member and pursue an advanced degree.  Photography was important in his roles as professor, pathologist, diagnostician, research clinician, and administrator.

During the 1990’s Lou prepared for a photographic “career in retirement” and the change to digital imaging.  Large animal medicine/surgery and wildlife studies had always been major interests and reinforced the progression to wildlife photography.  Lou’s passion is photographing the wildlife and birds of the Florida coast.

Of course, with Plymouth Harbor being situated on Coon Key in the midst of a natural bird habitat, Lou has become the photographic chronicler of many of nature’s dramas in our midst.  Here he alerts us to a potential nest of baby owls in our future and not too long ago, he played an even more active role in protecting our wild fowled young ones.

A Heroic Rescue for Stranded Chicks

In May 2012, Lou was on hand to rescue and document an entire Black Skimmer colony on Longboat Key that was threatened by Tropical Storm Debby. The storm had pushed coastal waters two to three feet above normal and large waves carried the water over the colony of over 400 birds with more than 100 active nest scrapes. The adult birds were all standing facing the wind in the lee of the buildings at the top of the beach; none were with the stranded chicks.

Willie Least Tern feeding its chick

Willie Least Tern feeding its chick

In his own words, “My initial reaction was to hope the adult birds would seek out their chicks. When this did not occur I returned to my vehicle to call beach monitors and bird rehabilitators for advice. When I returned to the beach half of the chicks had disappeared. Chicks were being buried by wind driven sand; and Laughing Gulls, and even a few Royal Terns, were gorging on stranded chicks. I saw only four chicks that somehow made it up the beach to the adult birds (and I hope were reunited with their parents). There were perhaps 50 chicks remaining at this point.”

“The stress of the day-long storm, flooding, relentless wind gusting to 40mph, biting wind-driven sand and opportunistic raiding gulls took a toll as I watched. It made no sense to stand by and watch remaining chicks perish this way. With help from others who arrived, it made sense to try to rescue the surviving chicks. We were able to find and pick up 32 live chicks. Gail Straight from Wildlife, Inc. on Anna Maria Island came to help and took the chicks to her wildlife education and rehabilitation center.”

Willie Least Tern with a Ghost Crab

Willie Least Tern with a Ghost Crab

Not surprisingly, Lou is active with the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program and has volunteered as a veterinary pathologist at Mote Marine Laboratory, as a veterinary surgeon at the former Pelican Man Bird Sanctuary, and as an Emergency Veterinary Medical Officer in Great Britain during the Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak.

Lou is an active member of the North American Nature Photography Association, National Association of Photoshop Professionals, Dimage, Digital Photo Artists, Sarasota Audubon Society, and Sarasota Bay Estuary Program Citizens Advisory Committee.  His work is held in several private collections and is on permanent display at Sarasota Memorial Hospital, Pines of Sarasota, SMH Institute for Advanced Medicine, Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation, and Plymouth Harbor on Sarasota Bay’s Smith Care Center.  He frequently participates in regional art gallery and photography exhibits. We’re proud he shares this wealth of photography with Plymouth Harbor on a regular basis.