Do you ever feel like it takes years to get something accomplished in Washington? So did Senator Marlow Cook, who was featured in our July Insights Program. Throughout his time in the Senate, he co-sponsored several bills that passed Congress during Nixon’s presidency. Senator Cook has always been a “go-getter.” Even before serving in the Senate, he served as a county judge, was elected to the Kentucky State Legislature, and became the youngest county executive in Louisville, Kentucky, at the age of 36. After his Senate term, he spearheaded the effort of a major Kansas City law firm to create one of the top decision-making firms in D.C.

How did Senator Cook accomplish it all? View the full Insights presentation to find out:

Insights is a monthly connection where residents can share stories and insights about their lives, careers, and hobbies with Plymouth Harbor employees. A feature of Plymouth Harbor’s developing employee wellness program, OnBoard, Insights is offered at noon on the fourth Friday of each month. Open to all employees, lunch is provided, supported by gifts to the Plymouth Harbor Foundation employee assistance fund. Thanks to resident Phil Starr, each Insights presentation is videotaped for viewing by employees unable to attend the live event.

Upcoming Insights Presentations:

August 28                     Ted and Fran Rehl:  “Inspired by Music”

September 25             Walt Mattson:  “Community College & the Newspaper Business”

October 23                         Susan Mauntel:  “Taking Risks and Winning”

The Roman poet Virgil once said, “The greatest wealth is health.” At Plymouth Harbor we couldn’t agree more and our Wellness Center promotes that mindset in countless ways—through group fitness, whole-person wellness, social activities, and much more.

From its formal inception in 2011, Plymouth Harbor’s wellness program was designed to evolve. As we approach Plymouth Harbor’s 50th anniversary next year, we thought it would be fun to take a look back and see just how far fitness and wellness have come from those early days.

Back in the Day

While it was state-of-the-art at the time, retirement living back in 1966 (when Plymouth Harbor first opened its doors) looked quite different than it does today. Back then, physically-passive, socially-oriented activities like walking, gardening, and shuffleboard were the norm. Plymouth Harbor’s Activities Department offered a weekly exercise class and, in later years, resident Lois Droege, with her background in physical education, led a popular group fitness class for residents.

july-wellnessTimes changed, and by 2005, later generations were expressing a desire for more comprehensive fitness programming. The opportunities they were enjoying at the local YMCA or other health clubs weren’t available at Plymouth Harbor; Marketing was hearing this from prospects and their families as well.

A 2011 resident survey revealed that one of residents’ top three priorities was a wellness center with professional staff and programming. Residents wanted updated equipment, knowledgeable instructors, and a variety of fitness classes. Next step? Making it happen.

Our philosophy was “develop the program and they will come.” The brick and mortar would come later. The first step was recruiting a wellness professional, with the proper credentials and experience with a senior population, who could build a program from the ground up. Enter Chris Valuck in September 2011.  As planned, by April 2013, Chris had developed the program to the point that a second full-time staff member was needed and Amanda Kirk joined the team.

By May 2013, a capital campaign was underway and the funds needed for the cost for a new, state-of-the-art wellness center had been donated by generous residents and staff. In September 2014, Plymouth Harbor’s beautiful ‘new’ Wellness Center opened its doors. By November 2014, Chris and Amanda, along with seven other staff members,  were helping to develop Plymouth Harbor’s employee wellness program, OnBoard. 

Wellness Today

With experienced and knowledgeable staff onsite, residents receive a multitude of benefits, including personalized fitness assessments, weekly orientations, and enhanced programming—including both group fitness and other physical activities.

Resident fitness assessments are conducted for each new resident, whether in-home or in the Wellness Center. After assessments are completed, resident records are created and maintained, including documents such as consent forms, waivers, guidelines, medical clearances, medical history, and exercise logs. Today, the Wellness department is in a position where they can also offer re-assessments to current residents, upon request.

With the help of contracted instructors, the Wellness Center offers at least 10 separate fitness classes each month, some of which meet two to three times per week. Chris is onsite to teach some; however, contracting with qualified instructors allows the Wellness department to offer specialized classes in areas like Tai Chi and ballroom dancing that might not otherwise be available. Countless hours are spent researching, contacting, and vetting these individuals, to ensure residents are receiving the highest possible quality of exercise.  In addition to monthly classes, Wellness staff researches, organizes, and conducts both off-site and on-site events, including last year’s Wellness Week, field trips, kayaking, and more.

Community outreach and networking with other local fitness centers and CCRCs is conducted on a regular basis to keep programming up-to-date. To promote both Plymouth Harbor and wellness in the greater community, Chris and Amanda also serve as “The Face of Wellness” at receptions and events to assist the Plymouth Harbor marketing team. The two additionally contribute monthly to the Harbor Light, and have prepared, designed, and produced numerous take-home brochures and guidelines for increased in-home fitness for residents.

Wellness in the Future

As time passes, there continues to be a resident desire for added programming. Residents can expect the Wellness Center to adapt and improve to meet these requests—through continued research, and an emphasis on unique classes and events. One resident-requested improvement in particular that will be implemented, is the expansion of outdoor physical activities (like the popular beach walk or kayaking) into regular programming.  You can look forward to seeing these types of activities more often, as well as new, never-been-done-before activities like visits to local state parks. Residents can also expect additional group fitness classes, such as the desired tap dancing class. These unique forms of physical activity promote exercise in an interesting, social environment and we hope they will inspire and encourage more residents to participate in physical activity to enhance their well-being.

With a higher resident demand for in-home fitness, a “Wellness Center Exercise Series” is also in process, which will encompass a series of exercise booklets and DVDs of the most popular wellness classes. As of now, the Line Dancing DVD is complete, and Sit Fit and Better Balance are in the works. Stay tuned for additions to this series. Along those same lines, the long-awaited Preferred Professionals Program is now available. Designed to meet resident requests for personalized services (including personal training, Pilates, yoga, dance, and massage), residents can expect this brochure in their mailbox in just a few short weeks.

Wellness goes beyond the four walls of Plymouth Harbor. For that reason, the Wellness department is collaborating with staff to offer an internship program to qualified students studying Exercise Science. They are also planning to offer a Harbor Club program, where members are allowed special access to participate in popular Wellness activities.

We’ve come a long way since 1966, and we plan to keep evolving to meet your needs. Stay tuned for updates on new programs and activities, and please continue to share ideas and enthusiasm with staff.

Have you ever seen a fashion show at Macy’s, read an advertisement for Vanity Fair lingerie in The New Yorker, or dried yourself on a Martex Towel? If so, you might know Plymouth Harbor resident Jane Smiley, who was featured in our June Insights Program. Jane has lived an exciting and active life – working in fashion advertising in New York City, serving as an advocate for women in the workplace, and promoting education and scholarships for youth. Jane shared with us how she broke the barrier for women in top executive positions during the 1950s, and how her journey eventually led her here to Plymouth Harbor.

You can view Jane’s full Insights presentation here:

Insights is a monthly connection where residents can share stories and insights about their lives, careers, and hobbies with Plymouth Harbor employees.  A feature of Plymouth Harbor’s developing employee wellness program, OnBoard, Insights is offered at noon on the fourth Friday of each month.  Open to all employees, lunch is provided, supported by gifts to the Plymouth Harbor Foundation employee assistance fund. Thanks to resident Phil Starr, each Insights presentation is videotaped for viewing by employees unable to attend the live event.

Upcoming Insights Presentations:

July 24                           Senator Marlow Cook:  “Politics are Politics”

August 28                     Ted and Fran Rehl:  “Inspired by Music”

September 25             Walt Mattson:  “Community College & the Newspaper Business”

October 23                         Susan Mauntel:  “Taking Risks and Winning”

By Barbara Leverone

wellnes12Only within the past few decades have scientists begun to embrace the concept of neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life. Prior to this, it was believed that after childhood, adult brain anatomy was fixed, only changing in the direction of decline.

Dr. Michael Merzenich, considered to be one of the world’s leading researchers in the field today, has repeatedly validated, along with many others, that the adult brain, in response to experience, is indeed plastic and capable of change.

Dr. Norman Doidge, psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, and research faculty member at both Columbia University and the University of Toronto, went wellnes1on to explore this hypothesis. He documented Merzenich’s experiments along with many other leading-edge scientists in his 2007 best-selling book, The Brain That Changes Itself. In Dr. Doidge’s most recent book, The Brain’s Way of Healing, he continues to explore the brain’s highly dynamic ability to heal when stimulated by noninvasive use of light, sound, vibration, and movement. Using everyday language, he writes about successful treatment protocols for numerous conditions including Parkinson’s, stroke, multiple sclerosis, balance issues, and chronic pain.

He devotes a chapter of his book to Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais (1904-1984), a pioneer in the field of neuroplasticity. As early as 1949, Dr. Feldenkrais wrote that the brain could form new neural pathways to organize itself in response to demands of the environment. Dr. Feldenkrais even created a method that uses movement lessons as a stimulus to develop new options for thinking, feeling, sensing, and doing.

Learn to move with ease and efficiency, and also improve posture and flexibility through the gentle, exploratory movements of The Feldenkrais Method. Discover how mindful, novel movements can create new neural pathways, and experience firsthand the power of neuroplasticity.

To read a portion of Dr. Doidge’s chapter on Dr. Feldenkrais, click here.

Credits:
PHOTO CREDIT: Elaine Litherland, Sarasota Herald-Tribune
Doidge, M.D., Norman. The Brain That Changes Itself. New York:
Penguin, 2007. Print
Doidge,M.D., Norman. The Brain’s Way of Healing. New York:
Penguin, 2015. Print.

Beverly Vernon, or “Bev” as most residents know her, was featured in our May Insights Program, along with some help from her husband, Bill. Bev is a gourmet cook at heart, and a columnist second. However, the latter ended up generating a paycheck when she stumbled into the career simply by writing about something she loved. Bev shared with us her journey to the Chicago Tribune, developing recipes for big-name brands like Kraft, and exciting stories of cooking alongside world-renowned chef, Julia Child, and even the Oscar-winning actor, Tom Hanks!

You can view Bev’s full Insights presentation here:

Insights is a monthly connection where residents can share stories and insights about their lives, careers, and hobbies with Plymouth Harbor employees.  A feature of Plymouth Harbor’s developing Employee Wellness Program, Insights is offered at noon on the fourth Friday of each month.  Open to all employees, lunch is provided, supported by gifts to the Plymouth Harbor Foundation employee assistance fund. Thanks to resident Phil Starr, each Insights presentation is videotaped for viewing by employees unable to attend the live event.

Upcoming Insights Presentations:

June 26                     Jane Smiley:  “Style—It is My Life

July 24                       Senator Marlow Cook:  “Politics are Politics”

August 28                Ted and Fran Rehl:  “Inspired by Music”

September 25        Walt Mattson:  “Community College & the Newspaper Business”

October 23                   Susan Mauntel:  “Taking Risks and Winning”

By Helen Kelly

How often have we heard the anguished cry, “is there a doctor in the house?”  You may be surprised to learn there are several doctors residing at Plymouth Harbor.  I became aware of this as I was about to interview one of the new move-in couples, Dr. James & Harriet Ahstrom.  I questioned how long-time residents of River Forest, Illinois, had discovered Plymouth Harbor and was told they had recently been living at The Players Club on Longboat Key.

Upon setting up the interview, I was warmly greeted by Dr. Ahstrom at their North Garden apartment.  I learned he has been an Orthopaedic surgeon with a specialty in hand surgery.  His undergraduate degree was earned at the University of Richmond and his medical degree at Northwestern.  It was there paths crossed with Harriet who graduated with a degree in Bacteriology.

Dr. Ahstrom served in WWII and again in the Korean War when, as a Navy reservist, he was called back to serve from 1950-52 at the 4th field hospital in Taegu.  Among many distinguished memberships too numerous to mention, he was a member of the American Academy of Orthopaedic surgeons, president of the Clinical Orthopaedic Society, has practiced in Oak Park and Downers Grove, Illinois, and the Shriners Hospital for children in Chicago.  He was a member of the Rotary Club Oak Park for 40 years and recently assumed membership in the Rotary Club of Sarasota Keys.

Prior to marriage, Harriet was Bacteriology assistant to the renowned Dr. Louis Sauer, originator of the triple vaccine for diphtheria, polio, and whooping cough.  She confided, however, that she became captivated by the role of wife and mother.  The Ahstroms are the parents of son, Jay, who resides in Wilton, Connecticut, and daughter, Jill, in Flourtown, Pennsylvania, who have gifted them with five grandchildren.

Harriet is obviously an enthusiastic decorator, evidenced by the explosive blue-and-white scheme that dominates their North Garden apartment.  Although very recent occupants, everything was in order and in place from furniture to wall decor.

The Ahstroms, no doubt, are a welcome addition to the Plymouth Harbor family.  However, the doctor is not “on call.”

She calls herself a free spirit, but Lanette Davis has a remarkably stable and loyal streak in terms of her service to Plymouth Harbor. It was forty-two years ago that her friend, May Byrd, suggested she interview for a job at Plymouth Harbor.  May had been working in Housekeeping Services and thought that her young friend was just the person Plymouth Harbor needed.  She called and got an interview that day. The next day Lanette received the news “you’ve got a job!”  She was just 22 years old and it was December 1972.

Lanette is originally from Marianna, Florida and the oldest of 9 children (5 girls and 4 boys).  She had left Marianna a while before and came to stay with a cousin in Sarasota, which seemed like a fine place to be.  However, not long after she had landed this first job at Plymouth Harbor it was necessary for her to take a leave of absence for a family emergency back in Marianna.  With family as a top priority, she upheld her responsibilities, but as soon as she could she returned to Sarasota and the job at Plymouth Harbor.  Marking 1974 as the start of her long tenure, she, with the entire Plymouth Harbor community, celebrated her 40th anniversary on the 30th of April. Lanette Davis, with her 40 years, is the longest serving employee in the history of Plymouth Harbor.

When asked how she came to stay for so long, she noted the caring culture of the entire housekeeping staff. Lanette spoke of residents with whom she had long relationships, who became family to her.  John and Fran Aulhammer come to mind with many others now gone.  Ruth Entrekin is a notable friend as well.  And it was not just the residents that she came to love. Many children and grandchildren of residents brought joy to her life and she to theirs.

Her supervisors and co-workers have been quick to report, “Lanette is a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day.  Her residents on the 16, 17, & 18th floors love her.”

In fact, when Lanette had her 30th employment anniversary, all of her residents signed a Shining Star that read:  “For thirty years Lanette Davis has been a Shining Star of Plymouth Harbor and the lives of the residents of Colony Sixteen have been blessed by her loving, caring ways, her sparkling care of our apartments and her unfailing good nature.  She has brought sunshine into our lives and made it a pleasure to look forward to the hours she spends with us.  We lovingly congratulate her on her attaining this outstanding record of dedication toPlymouthHarbor and wish her many more years of good health and happiness.”

Residents also gathered on her 40th anniversary to shower her with love and appreciation. On this occasion, and when she was first surprised by a visit from CEO Harry Hobson and the entire senior staff early in the morning on April 29, Lanette was handed a bouquet of yellow roses, her favorite flower.

During that party, Ish Pedersen said she and her husband Norman felt very lucky that Lanette had been taking care of their home for 10 years. Of course she added, “She smiles all the time and gives wonderful advice!”

Surprised and feeling “a bit overcome,” Lanette graciously accepted the adulation and returned the love by saying, “You all are a ray of sunshine in my life!”

Away from the bustle of the gatherings, Lanette recalled the many fun times with her “housekeeping family.”  These were the signs of her free spirit being expressed. She speaks of friendly pranks of teasing of her co-workers as she stirred up ways to have fun.  In her own way, Lanette laid down her own set of rules. If someone came to her singing a tale of woe she’d say, “We’ll have none of that!”

“I believe in having fun and keeping things bubbly,” she added. “I don’t want any of this depressing negativity.” Now, that’s the likely source of this ray of sunshine.

It was one of her friends and co-workers, Bea Davis who introduced her to her husband now of 28 years.  Thanks to Bea for arranging that meeting with her husband’s brother Bobby Davis, Sr.  Together that have parented their blended family of six: Tameka, Dewey Jr., Bobby Jr., Lisa, Yolanda, and Angela and has several grandchildren.

Her oldest daughter, who lives nearby in Sarasota, is her partner in crime as the enjoy many of the same leisure time activities.  Well, one in particular: shopping.

“We’re two peas in a pod,” Lanette says. They like to go anywhere as long as there is shopping involved.

In fact, Lanette has said that if she had all the money in the world she would buy a cruise ship and cruise from coast to coast with her entire extended family. What would they do in each port of call?  The world travelers would shop until they dropped!

Then she says she would return to her own island and write a book titled, “How Plymouth Harbor Turns”. We all know, that will be some story!!  Congratulations, Lanette!

By Ila Preti
A pretty, petite person, Cynda has many interests and talents in the arts: she’s a perfect fit for Sarasota!  (She first visited her mother-in-law here, and then spent many winters on Siesta Key.  She knew it was the place for her.)

Growing up in New Rochelle, N.Y., an easy commute to New York City, Cynda became enamored of drama, art and music.  Her entire life has been art-centered: painting, sculpture and quilt designing have been favorites.  She participated in arts activities and sang in choral groups wherever she lived.

A drama major at Vassar College, she has fond memories of playing Nellie Forbush in “South Pacific.”  She met her husband there and they began married life in Hot Springs, Arkansas, where he entered the family lumber business.  Cynda and her husband founded an art and drama center in Hot Springs.  Sadly, she was widowed at an early age.

New Mexico has been her home for many years.  As a rancher, she bred and raised Appaloosa horses, further developing her love of the environment and horticulture.  When she sold theranch and moved to Santa Fe, she had an opportunity to become involved in that city’s outstanding arts community.  She still has a home there and plans to spend the summer in the cool mountains (at 7,000 feet).

A love of learning has enriched Cynda’s entire life—wherever she lived, she enrolled in classes in many areas. Sometimes, when there was no college available, she took ‘correspondence’ courses.

The mother of three, she has three granddaughters and three great-grandchildren.  One of her daughters, Liz, has lived on Longboat Key for many years; some of you may know her!  Her son and another daughter live in Colorado; grandchildren live in California and in North Carolina.

While Cynda’s life has centered on the arts, she has many other interests.  She is fascinated by “New Age” studies and loves sports; she was part of the 19th Colony Bocce team that played the North Garden Colony in the first Plymouth Harbor ‘tournament.’

A fascinating, enthusiastic person, Cynda is a wonderful addition to Plymouth Harbor and to Sarasota.  We warmly welcome her!


It’s easy to agree that energy and natural resources should not be wasted.  It’s a consideration for the environment, as well as the financial cost of using more than we need. We are all encouraged to reuse, reduce, recycle and we need your help to become less wasteful.

The Plymouth Harbor resident Conservation Committee has compiled a guidebook of suggested actions that will keep us all on a energy-sensitive path.  Produced as a brochure for caregivers who visit, these tips are important for everyone to understand.

You can help conserve electricity usage by: 

  • Turning off uneeded lights – Your client’s safety is important, but in rooms no one enters, please turn off the lights.
  • Adjusting the thermostat – Sometimes it is possible to adjust the thermostat up or down without making your client less comfortable.

Recycling is a Daily Habit

The garbage and food waste from each apartment goes down the chute in the trash room on each floor, but many items can be recycled.

Here is a RECYCLING  list to help you know what to put where.

  • Paper Container – This is the Biggie

newspapers, catalogs, magazines, junk mail, cards, flattened cereal and show boxes, corrugated cardboard, paper bags flattened

  • Commingle Container

All cans, tin, aluminum, rinsed pie pans, Plastics which say in the little triangle on the base #1, #2, #3, #4, #5. #6, and #7.  Glass – clear, green and brown

Everything must be rinsed and free of food particles.

If you have any questions, there is a list in the trash room of what we recycle.

How to Recycle unused and expired medicine

These should be taken to the Callahan Center on the second floor of the tower. Disposing of them in that way will keep those chemicals out of the bay and out of our drinking water.

All of us are in this together, trying to make Plymouth Harbor, and our world, a cleaner,  safer place.

One of the many programs available for Plymouth Harbor residents to attend this month is a special look behind the scenes at the thriving theatre world of Sarasota with guest Jay Handelman, the theater and television critic and a senior arts writer for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Most of us know already that Sarasota is not the average town of this average size, not too big, not too small. There are more performing arts per capita here than almost anywhere we can consider.  Our guest, Jay Handelman has been following and writing about this arts scene for… he’d hate for us to say this, but thirty years.  Needless to say, if Jay does not know about it, it’s not news worth knowing, when it comes to the arts biz, at least.

This is his busy season with at least 2 opening shows a week, probably more. He is THE theatre critic that all professional and amateur theaters in Southwest Florida care about. He is seen in this photo with Bob Turoff (right), a Broadway veteran who started the famed Golden Apple Theater in town.

Jay is one of those critics that is keen-sensing and sensitive to the needs of his readers and the artists he reviews.  He reviews the big professional productions of the Asolo Rep, the innovative shows at Florida Studio Theatre, community productions at The Players, and many other theatrical performing arts – even the upcoming Circus Sarasota shows!

After nearly five years as a reporter and editor for United Press International’s local news bureau in Washington, D.C., including one year as D.C. NewsCenter Editor, Jay joined the Herald-Tribune in November 1984 as Assistant City Editor, working on local news stories, editing and assigning.

He became THE theater critic when the paper established a full-time position in March 1986, later adding television to his beat in December 1994.

We’re all looking forward to learning more about the craft of theater criticism, as well as the behind the scenes tales that make the arts so intriguing.

Behind the Scenes of Sarasota’s Theatre World with Jay Handelman will be in Pilgrim Hall on Thursday, February 6 at 7:45 pm.