You asked. We answered. At a recent Café Chat with Harry, several questions were raised regarding the Northwest Garden Building. Below is a summary of this information. Please note that a new video discussing building details and construction progress is in production and will be shown at an upcoming February Resident Meeting (date forthcoming).

What will replace the Callahan Center Assisted Living space when the current residents are moved to the new Assisted Living Residence?
As many of you know, the space where the Callahan Center resides will become vacant when our assisted living residents are moved to the new building. At present, it is not known what will occupy this space. We presume this will be determined in late Spring 2017.

How will occupancy be determined for the new Assisted Living Residence?
Current residents of the Callahan Center have first choice of apartments in the new Assisted Living Residence. Following that, residents from the Smith Care Center who qualify for living in the new Assisted Living would be given the opportunity to transfer. Then priority will be given to Plymouth Harbor residents who are currently on the internal wait list and those who may need to consider Assisted Living. If apartments remain available, our final step will be to open it up to our Harbor Club wait list and then to non-Plymouth Harbor Sarasota community residents. If you are interested in being placed on the wait list, please contact Liz Clark, Administrator of Assisted Living/Director of Home Care, Ext. 245.

How will therapy change when the new building is opened?
The current therapy gym, which is located in the Smith Care Center, will remain as is. We see this space primarily being utilized by Smith Care Center residents. When the Northwest Garden Building is complete, we plan to open a new outpatient therapy gym for use by both our independent living residents and non-Plymouth Harbor Sarasota community residents. The new therapy gym will be placed in N-213. At 1,650 square feet, this space is the perfect size and location for this amenity.

Will the new building have its own kitchen and dining staff?
Yes. However, much of the preparation will be done in the Mayflower Restaurant kitchen, as is currently done for the Smith Care Center. Chef René has been involved in the planning process for the new building, and is confident in the ability of the kitchen staff to meet the increased demand for dining.

When the new building is complete in November 2017, what will be the process for residents who will be moving in?
We are currently in the process of developing a “traffic schedule.” To do this, we are meeting with residents who will occupy the new building and are creating a list and timeline that will allow for a smooth, gradual move-in process.

What is the current status of the Multi-Use Recreational Trail (MURT)?
As it stands, the City is responsible for finishing the MURT trail, including the portion from Plymouth Harbor’s entrance east to the Sarasota Yacht Club. This is slated to begin Fall 2017.

“I’ve been very fortunate in my life,” Norma Schatz says with a smile. “I had a wonderful marriage, have wonderful children, and am very blessed in whom I know…As I said, it’s been a most fortunate life.” Indeed it has.

Norma was born in New York and grew up in both Manhattan and Long Island. However, in between stints in New York, Norma and her mother moved abroad to live in Paris — twice. The first time was for a year and a half when she was very young, and the second was at the age of 14 for six months while her older sister studied abroad in Europe.

After returning to the U.S. and finishing high school in Manhattan, Norma attended Cornell University, where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. She then went on to work for MGM Studios doing movie research. She and her late husband, Michael, were married in 1945 and settled down in his hometown of Hartford, Connecticut. They had three sons and two daughters.

Norma spent a few years working in personnel for a department store. Then, as Norma says, she “kept working, but not for money.” She became involved in the local community and in politics.
“I can remember carrying my first child in a bassinet to a League of Women Voters meeting,” she laughs.

Norma went on to run for (and win) a seat on the West Hartford Board of Education and for the state legislature (and lost). She was also involved with the Community Council in charge of their Legislative Information Service, worked with the Connecticut Child Welfare Association, was on the board of Planned Parenthood, and chaired a study of the juvenile justice system. This resulted in an appointment by the Governor to the Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee as a citizen representative, where she served for nearly 30 years.

In her time on the committee, Norma says she was very much aware of the different, and disproportionate, way children were treated if they were “from the wrong side of the tracks.” Her mission was to help bridge this gap, sharing research and information from her experiences in the community to help improve the system.

Similar to her own upbringing, Norma incorporated travel into her children’s lives as well. “I wanted them to know that they were a part of a big world,” she says. “To get to know and appreciate other cultures.” While they never lived abroad, Norma and her husband took many trips traveling through Europe. She fondly remembers one trip in particular where the family spent an entire month at a home in Spain — for what cost only $450 at the time.

In the early 2000s, when she and Michael decided to move full-time to Longboat Key, Norma stepped down from her post on the Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee. Again, Norma immediately became an active member of her community. This time, however, she focused on working with Planned Parenthood and the Sarasota Democratic Party, rather than focusing specifically on children’s issues. “I write a lot of letters,” she laughs. Along with nearly 10,000 others, Norma even participated in the Sarasota Women’s Solidarity March across the John Ringling Causeway on January 21st.

When asked why she chose Sarasota, Norma shares stories of visiting her parents here in the 1960s, discussing the growth of the local community and citing the influence of the arts, even then. After moving to Sarasota, Norma reconnected with childhood friends Richard and Marian Kessler, for whom she was the Maid of Honor at their wedding. In 2007, Norma, then widowed, joined her longtime friends and moved into Plymouth Harbor.

When she’s not volunteering, Norma enjoys the local arts, including ballet and theatre. At Plymouth Harbor, she serves on the Library Committee and Residents Association Executive Council as Executive Associate Liaison to Residents. Norma jokes that she was never able to learn bridge, but she does manage to play Scrabble once a week with friends.

Most importantly, Norma enjoys spending time with her four children and nine grandchildren, located all over the map — from Kentucky to Pennsylvania and New York to England. With an upcoming trip planned for Paris in March, it’s not likely that Norma will be slowing down anytime soon.

Ozan Gökdemir is a student at New College of Florida (New College). Originally from Ankara, Turkey, he is the first recipient of a scholarship established by Plymouth Harbor resident Akgun Temizer.

In the summer of 2015, Akgun established a $1.3 million scholarship program specifically for students from his high school in Ankara to attend New College. His desire was to bring Turkish honor students to the United States to study and gain experience so they could graduate, return to Turkey, and apply what they learned here. A few months ago, Akgun generously decided to enlarge his contribution to the scholarship fund with a $1.2 million gift. His reason for doing so?

“I am a changed man from this experience,” Akgun says, referring to his relationship with Ozan. Since his arrival in September 2015, Ozan and Akgun have spent much time together, visiting and discussing his studies, their hometown of Ankara, and more.

Because New College is only able to use the income derived from the scholarship fund, the number of students awarded the scholarship varies year by year. Ozan is the only recipient to date, as the scholarship not only covers out-of-state tuition costs ($30,000 per year), but living expenses and transportation to and from Turkey for breaks and holidays. As a result of Akgun’s recent gift, more students will be given the same opportunity as Ozan.

“Originally, I set up this scholarship in my will, to begin after my passing,” Akgun explains. “I am so glad to have begun it now and be able to see the students grow.”

Akgun has received much recognition for his gifts, both locally and in Turkey. In fact, the foundation in Ankara that works with New College to identify students for the scholarship recently published a 30-year anniversary book that highlights Akgun’s scholarship as the largest contribution in their history.

In a note to Akgun in the anniversary book, Ozan wrote, “I’m blessed to be the first seed to blossom in the shade of this honorable and generous man. Can’t thank you enough, Uncle Akgun.”

This scholarship has undoubtedly changed the lives of both Akgun and Ozan. In 2018, two more students are expected to arrive at New College.

Akgun says he is most pleased to work with New College, adding, “I received the most thoughtful and beautiful holiday gift from MaryAnne Young, president of the New College Foundation. She was so busy at the college and preparing for a trip to Boston for the holidays, but she found time to bring this beautiful gift to me. I am so grateful.”

Many elementary students struggle when it comes to reading skills and comprehension. To help address this problem, Sarasota resident Ruthie Maass, a longtime kindergarten teacher who retired more than 15 years ago, began volunteering as a reading tutor.

After some time, she realized that while some schools had a plethora of volunteers, others were lacking. As a result, she began “Rockin’ Readers,” a reading program at Emma E. Booker Elementary (Booker Elementary) that pairs an adult volunteer with a small number of students ranging from kindergarten to second grade. Volunteers work with these students throughout the school year on an individual basis — building vocabulary, comprehension, and creating a positive experience when it comes to reading. The program consists of more than 120 volunteers, including Plymouth Harbor residents Barbara Bock, Celia Catlett, and the late Fran Rehl.

Celia Catlett began working as a volunteer three years ago at Fran Rehl’s suggestion. “I’ve always loved working with children, and before I became involved with Rockin’ Readers, I worked with a local literacy program,” she says. On a weekly basis, Celia works with two students at Booker Elementary. “People there are tremendously enthusiastic,” she adds. “Not only is it a lot of fun, you universally hear stories of how the children’s eyes light up.”

Barbara Bock also began her involvement at the suggestion of Fran Rehl. Seven years later, she feels just as passionate about the program as the day she started. “I was originally drawn to the program because I am a retired teacher, having taught first, second, and third grade,” Barbara says. “And I also really enjoy working with the children.” Barbara uses her talents as a former teacher to help tutor first grade students once each week at Booker Elementary.

It comes as no surprise that Fran Rehl’s number one passion before her passing (outside of her own family) was working with students at Booker Elementary. In fact, she was so passionate about tutoring that she worked with the Plymouth Harbor Foundation to ensure that her memorial gifts would be applied to a reading program that somehow benefited the families of Plymouth Harbor
employees. The Foundation is currently in the process of identifying the need and establishing a program that will fulfill Fran’s generous wish.

If you are interested in volunteering or learning more about Rockin’ Readers, contact your neighbors Celia Catlett or Barbara Bock.

picture3There is no doubt that Plymouth Harbor’s residents and employees are dedicated to helping many charities in the Sarasota community. In an effort to organize and combine our efforts, we are installing a brand new, custom collection bin “cabinet” on the Ground Floor of the Tower, located on the open wall across from the doors to the Wellness Center. The cabinet holds openings for four separate bins, which will each be dedicated to a different organization (a rendering is pictured right).

Information on the organizations and their items for donation will be placed above each bin. This information is also listed below. The bin is expected to be installed by mid-December. We hope this will help bring Plymouth Harbor’s donation efforts together and make it easier for those who give!

Meals on Wheels

Meals on Wheels delivers meals to persons in need in the Sarasota community who are unable to provide or prepare a meal for themselves in their home. Serving between 160,000 and 180,000 meals yearly, Meals on Wheels largely operates with the help of its more than 300 volunteers. Plymouth Harbor’s new collection bin will be dedicated to collecting the plastic bags needed to package meals for this organization.

All Faiths Food Bank

All Faiths Food Bank is the local food bank that provides healthy solutions to end hunger in our community. In addition to monthly sorting days with our employees, many of us donate our time and resources to this organization. All Faiths Food Bank’s bin will be dedicated to collecting the following items: packaged or canned fruit or fruit drinks (100% juice and pull-tab tops); cereal; pasta; soup; stew; kid-friendly snacks; peanut butter & jelly; canned tuna, chicken, or salmon; rice; beans of any kind; and powdered milk.

Resurrection House

Resurrection House is a day resource center for the homeless of Sarasota County, where many Plymouth Harbor residents and employees volunteer their time. The organization is always in need of donations, and Plymouth Harbor’s bin will largely collect the following items: clothing — new or gently used, especially jackets and sweatshirts at this time of year, and women’s and men’s jeans (popular waist sizes for men: 30, 32, and 34); sneakers; blankets; and travel-size toiletries.

Sarasota County Animal Services (SCAS)

Plymouth Harbor employee, and longtime SCAS volunteer, Lisa Siroky introduced us to SCAS — a local, volunteer-based shelter in need of donated items for its adoptable dogs and cats. The shelter accepts the following items for dogs: dog toys; tennis balls; wet dog food; Milk Bone treats; dog beds (soft padded kind); old towels, sheets, and blankets; and Martingale dog collars. The following items are accepted for cats: cat toys; Temptations cat treats; cat litter (any brand); wet kitten/cat food (any brand); and cat carriers (gently used or new).


5004818653_23cb10671c_bThe Selby Public Library serves the Sarasota community, offering programs and resources to all ages. The library works with Friends of the Selby Public Library (Friends) — a sister organization whose mission is to partner in developing services, providing programs, raising funds, and advocating for resources. Friends achieves this by raising funds through the Friends Bookstore and annual fundraisers.

Connected to the “special collections” department of the library is the Sarasota Music Archive — one of the leading reference collections in the field of music. The Archive contains several hundred thousand recordings, tapes, books, sheet music, and memorabilia. The collection varies from classical to opera, jazz to popular, folk to international music, and also includes video recordings of performances, musicals, and the like. Each year, recordings and music scores not needed for the collection are sold to the public.

Like many organizations in Sarasota, the Selby Public Library, Friends, and the Sarasota Music Archive depend greatly on a group of dedicated volunteers. Many of the volunteers for each of these branches can be found here at Plymouth Harbor.

As a former professional librarian, the first thing resident Charleen Sessions did when she moved to Sarasota 20 years ago was visit the Selby Public Library. After finding there was no book club, she offered to start one, and it was then that the library’s “Books and Coffee” program was born, eventually attracting often more than 100 people. Still in practice today, this free, monthly program invites various guest speakers to review thought-provoking literary works. Charleen spent more than 12 years researching and recruiting speakers for the program before mentoring someone to take it over. She also served many years on the Friends Board of Directors.

Residents John Goodman, Joy McIntyre, and Chris and Margo Light have each dedicated much of their time to the Sarasota Music Archive. Chris and Margo have been involved with the organization for 25 years — with Chris being one of the longest serving members. Together, the two have helped with data entry, stocking the shelves, and converting materials. Margo is a current Board member and Chris a former Board member.

John Goodman serves as the current President of the Sarasota Music Archive and has been a volunteer since he moved to Sarasota in 2002. He has also served as a member of the board and as a program coordinator. Today, in addition to his responsibilities as president, he leads a popular weekly music series that alternates between concerts and educational lectures. Joy McIntyre became involved with the Archive shortly after John — the two were colleagues at Boston University and moved to the Sarasota area at the same time. Joy currently serves as Secretary of the Board of Directors, and has also been involved in other aspects of the organization, including compiling the newsletter, giving lectures, and more. “The library offers many original materials, in a time where a lot of research is done online,” Joy says. “The Sarasota Music Archive is so important because it’s helping to preserve the history of music.”

If you are interested in volunteering or learning more about the Sarasota Music Archive or Friends of the Selby Public Library, visit and


rev-sparrow-and-rudy-3rev-sparrow-phoebe-and-bill-vernon-4This year, on October 5, 2016, Plymouth Harbor held its first-ever Blessing of the Assistance Animals. Lead by Chaplain Sparrow, the event drew several residents and assistance dogs who call Plymouth Harbor home.

For the last 10 years, Chaplain Sparrow has performed this service annually, in which he has blessed a variety of assistance animals — from dogs to cats, fish to birds, goats to horses, and even reptiles. According to Chaplain Sparrow, this service is performed each year on October 4th as a way of celebrating the Patron Saint of Animals, Saint Francis of Assisi. In remembrance of St. Francis’ love for all creatures, animals are led to churches for a special ceremony, or “blessing of the animals.” Millions of animals are blessed each year in these ceremonies that touch the hearts of those in attendance.

“This is an opportunity for us to give a blessing to those who mean so much to us,” he says. “It’s a time to be thankful and to show our gratitude.”

Chaplain Sparrow plans to continue the tradition, and hopes to draw more residents and assistance animals with each service. While attendance is difficult for some who have assistance cats, he hopes to invite those individuals to bring a photo of their loved one next year. This year’s service was held only one day after St. Francis’ celebration, and Chaplain Sparrow intends to continue to have the ceremony take place as close as possible next year.

Resident Bill Vernon, who brought his assistance dog, Phoebe, to the ceremony said, “I thought it was a great idea, and Chaplain Sparrow did a great job.” He later joked, “Phoebe has benefited very much from it, and is now much more well-behaved.”







capture1Three months, 9,000 miles, 10 states, and numerous cities across the U.S. — that’s how Susan Mauntel and longhaired dachshund Moki spent their summer. Her secret to keeping calm throughout her travels? “Knowing that God is in control, and using my iPhone GPS!”

“My theory is that you should go somewhere you’ve never been at least once a year,” Susan says. “Get out of your comfort zone, off a plane, and into your car.” Besides re-visiting places she used to live in Colorado and California, she targeted four cities along the way she had never explored before: Kansas City, Tulsa, Memphis and Savannah.

capture2Susan is no stranger to the drive from Florida to Colorado, having spent five winters in Naples. However, each time, she makes a point to “diversify” the road trip. Born on July 7th (7/7), Susan’s motivation this year was to spend her 77th birthday with dear friends in Colorado.  While planning her trip, Susan read that the Ringling Museum was making its way to Bentonville, Arkansas, and Kansas City, Missouri, for an exclusive art museum tour in the fall. “I thought to myself, if they can do it, I can do it,” she says. From there, she set to work planning her route.

Susan’s travels began on June 13th, with her first stop in a small town called Apalachicola, six hours away in Florida’s Panhandle. After a meal of the town’s famous oysters and getting a good night’s sleep, she moved on to her next destination, Bentonville, to take in the Crystal Bridges Museum of capture3American Art — a treasure trove of paintings, sculptures, and architectural wonders. Next, Kansas City to see the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, and visit with Plymouth Harbor residents, Phil and Barry Starr. Her wonderful hosts took her to both museums and introduced her to Winstead’s — a famous local diner where they courted in the 50s!
Following her self-guided art tour, Susan made her way to her former home, Aspen, Colorado, to spend a month in her cousins’ ski house. She spent time with friends at the Aspen Music Festival, the jazz festival, Shakespeare in the Park, and celebrated her birthday with “18 dynamic ladies I’ve
known since the 80s.” Then she was off to Denver to see more friends, and discovered the ART, a new, exciting hotel, steps from the Denver Art Museum.

Susan and Moki then headed to the West Coast by way of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Prescott, Arizona. After pit stops to see friends in both those towns, she set forth to her old stomping grounds in Southern California — San Diego and Los Angeles to be exact. “It was good to see the Pacific Ocean again,” she says with a smile.

capture4Many art museums, galleries, and plays later, Susan began the adventure home. She stopped in Aspen again, then Breckenridge for a week with her best friend from college. Tulsa, Oklahoma, came next to see her cousins. “I imagined Tulsa to be flat and dusty. To my surprise, I was met with rolling hills, big trees, and green grass,” she says. “It was beautiful, wonderful to be with family — and to see more art museums!”

Memphis, Tennessee, and Savannah, Georgia, rounded out her trip. In Memphis, she stayed at the renowned Peabody Hotel and witnessed the famous duck parade. She also visited Elvis’s Graceland, the legendary Sun Records (Million Dollar Quartet), and the National Civil Rights Museum. Savannah ended Susan’s travels with a quaint bed and breakfast and a dinner cruise featuring Southern Gospel singers.

On an inspirational note, Susan adds, “You don’t need three months to do a fun trip. Take a weekend, get in your car, and head to a place you’ve never been.” While Susan (and Moki) are unsure of their next destination, we’re sure it will be a good one.


the_ringling_museum_sarasota_iThe Ringling Museum is not only an icon of Sarasota, but home to one of the most distinguished art collections in the United States. Designated as the State Art Museum of Florida, The Ringling offers 31 galleries within the Museum of Art, including its new Center for Asian Art, in addition to the Ca’ d’Zan Mansion, the Historic Asolo Theater, the Ringling Art Library, the Circus Museum and Tibbals Learning Center, and 66 acres of Bayfront Gardens.

Each year, The Ringling attracts visitors from around the world, reporting more than 400,000 visitors in the 2014-15 fiscal year. That same year, guests represented every state in the U.S. and several foreign countries, with Canada, Great Britain, and Germany having the highest visitation. Like many local organizations, The Ringling largely depends on its more than 500 generous volunteers who serve in a variety of roles — many of whom can be found right here at Plymouth Harbor.

Resident Sue Johnson, who has been a docent for nearly 16 years, is a prime example. In this position, she has helped provide tours in the Museum of Art, Ca’ d’Zan Mansion, Circus Museum, Bayfront Gardens, and special exhibitions. As a docent, Sue was required to take part in an initial detailed training course, in which she learned the ins and outs of each piece of art. She also participated in a continuing education program and provided at least 75 hours of service annually. “It’s a wonderful continued education for me. Leading tours is so illuminating,” she says. “You learn as much from your visitors as they do from you.” Today, Sue is taking a step back to become more involved in other organizations, but still plans to serve on an as-needed basis.

Nancy Cook, and her late husband Senator Marlow Cook, became involved nearly 21 years ago. After coming to Sarasota, Senator Cook was invited to serve on The Ringling Board of Directors due to his expertise in politics, business, and finance. He served several years, some of which were as chairman, and was involved in the negotiation and transition of the museum’s governance to Florida State University in 2000. At the same time, Nancy worked with the then-Ringling Member’s Council. Along with fellow residents Nancy Gross and Marian Kessler, the group assisted the museum in any way possible — which included membership, special events, and the 1996 renovation of the Ca’ d’Zan. “Whatever needed to be done, we did it,” she remembers. Marian Kessler and Nancy Gross still serve at The Ringling today. Nancy spends her Saturdays as an ambassador in the Tibbals Learning Center, in addition to working as an usher in the Historic Asolo Theater. Both Nancy and Marian serve on an as-needed basis for special events and openings.

Many residents have also served terms on The Ringling Board of Directors. Alice Rau, a longtime supporter and volunteer, served on the board for a number of years, both as a member and as chairman. A volunteer since 1992, Ina Schnell is currently serving her seventh year on the board. “The Ringling Museum to me is one of those special places that has influenced my time in Sarasota,” she says. “After living for 47 years in Manhattan and giving tours at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I was thrilled to find such an outstanding museum in my new home community.”

The Ringling has had supporters at Plymouth Harbor in other capacities as well. In affiliation with the Sarasota Garden Club, Betsy Bagby and Betty Hendry put their gardening skills to work when they restored Mable Ringling’s Secret Garden more than 15 years ago. Through her work with the Founders Garden Club of Sarasota, Molly Moffat has assisted in the restoration of the Rose Garden, courtyard, and more. This organization is also responsible for the donation of 10 Cuban Royal Palm trees to the Ca’ d’Zan’s entrance.

“The Ringling is such an asset to this community,” says Marian Kessler. “It’s a treasure, attracting so many people and offering something different to each one.” To learn more, visit


img_1480-4On Wednesday, August 31st, Plymouth Harbor’s Chef René Weder, Sous Chef Carlos Morales, and Lead Cook Franco Valencia participated in the The Best of The Best of the ALFs – A Culinary Extravaganza.

More than 200 people attended the first-time event, which was hosted by the Sarasota County Aging Network (SCAN) and held at Sahib Shriners Auditorium from 4:30 p.m.-7:00 p.m. SCAN is a not-for-profit coalition of individuals and agencies that represent health, education, and social service organizations advocating for seniors in our community.

More than 20 local Assisted Living Facilities and Continuing Care Retirement Communities attended the event, competing in their choice of img_0916the following categories: Hot Hors d’oeuvres, Cold Hors d’oeuvres, Pasta Dishes, and Luscious Desserts.

Plymouth Harbor’s team had the honor of winning first place in the Hot Hors d’oeuvres category. The winning dish? Seared sea scallops served with lobster sauce and forbidden rice — a black rice that used to be considered so superior and rare, it was reserved exclusively for royalty in ancient China.

Chef René and his team chose the Hot Hors d’oeuvres category because it offered the broadest variety when it came to preparing a dish. The sea scallops were chosen for several reasons:  a simple yet elegant dish, scallops also tend to be a crowd pleaser. Additionally, the use and story behind the “forbidden rice” created quite the buzz among the attendees.
“When you attend a large event like this, it’s always nice to create something that not only tastes good, but also serves as a conversation piece,” says Chef René.

The event was judged by several “celebrity judges,” including local chefs: Chef Christian Hershman (a culinary consultant), Chef George Armstrong (of The Rosemary), Chef Rolf (of Salt Water Café), and Chef Paul Mattison (of Mattison’s City Grille, Mattison’s Bayside, and Mattison’s Forty-One).

The proceeds from the event benefited the SCAN grant program, which assists Sarasota County seniors. In addition to supporting a worthy cause, it offered the opportunity to discredit the stigma that comes with dining at assisted living facilities and retirement communities.

“In this industry, people have the idea that we only offer institutional food,” says Chef René. “Collectively, we were able to show that this is absolutely not the case, and we hope to be able to participate in the event again next year.”