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 www.sarasotamusicarchive.org and  www.selbylibraryfriends.org/.


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.”







By: Lorna Hard

john-bellantoni-and-edith-schwartz-4Edith Schwartz was born in Karlsruhe, Germany. In 1940 her family fled Germany, ending up in New York where her father established a medical practice. Edith earned her B.A. at Barnard, her M.A. at Columbia, and her Ph.D. at Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences. Her long and very distinguished career was in biotechnology. She began in academia teaching and doing research.

Among many distinctions, Edith was the first woman to become a tenured professor at Tufts University School of Medicine. She maintained her ties to academia while her career focus shifted to development of healthcare related technologies. She worked with several government agencies as well as in the private sector where she also successfully marketed new devices and technologies. In addition, Edith organized and directed symposia on topics in her field, including one in Tianjin, China. She has received several professional awards and honors, including the Kappa Delta Award of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

John Bellantoni was born and raised in New York City. He earned a B.A. from Fordham, an M.S. in Mathematics from New York University, and another M.S. in Engineering from Harvard. John began his career designing inertial navigation systems in industry. During the space race he joined NASA and headed the Sensor Technology Branch.

In 1970, John moved to the United States Department of Transportation where he led projects for the Coast Guard, the FAA, and other agencies. In 1988 he left government to consult on a satellite-based rescue system, which facilitates cooperation among more than fifty nations in locating seamen and aviators in distress. John says, “This is an outstanding application of international space technology for bettering the world.” During his career John received many awards, got several patents and published over a dozen papers.

The couple met and married in Boston in the late 1980’s, forming a family of seven children from their previous marriages. The family has now grown by eight grandchildren, living all over the United States and in Canada. After their marriage, Edith and John left academia and government and pursued careers in the private sector, centered in Washington D.C.  In 2005 they retired full time to their home on Bird Key. In August, they moved to Plymouth Harbor.

Edith has served on the Advisory Committee at Mote Marine Laboratory. Many years ago she attended a woodworking class and built a table that the couple used until recently. She is interested in pursuing woodworking as well as Scrabble and Mah Jongg, and she looks forward to participating in programs at the Wellness Center. John enjoys discussion groups on the subjects of physics, economics, science and futurism, and he attends two such groups in Sarasota.  He looks forward to meeting others at Plymouth Harbor with similar interests. John also loves riding his bicycle and is an avid sailor. He had a Gemini catamaran on Bird Key and would love to find people here who might like to join him in buying and sharing a sailboat.

Edith and John are happy with their move to Plymouth Harbor. They see life here as their “second retirement,” and are looking forward to settling in and becoming involved in the community.



picture2Making the jump from a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) to a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) is a great accomplishment. It takes hard work and dedication, and is truly something to be proud of.

Over the years, several Plymouth Harbor employees, in both our Home Care and Smith Care Center departments, have made this transition while working here. We would like to recognize these individuals below, and have also included a few comments from these dedicated employees.

Smith Care Center

Danny Bushman, LPN 2016

Nancy Chan, LPN 2016

Many Flores, LPN 2004

Tara Mitchell, LPN 2010

Home Care 

Bridget Chapman, LPN 2009

Haley Coles, LPN 2015

“My love for helping people is what made me decide to go into nursing. Working at Plymouth Harbor has overall been a good experience, and I am thankful for the opportunity to grow.” —Haley Coles

“I decided to go into nursing because I feel that caring for others is especially rewarding. What I enjoy most about working here at Plymouth Harbor is making my residents smile.” —Danny Bushman


By: Resident Elsa Price

img_1025In stoic beauty and stately elegance stands Plymouth Harbor, the tallest building in our fair city, her statuesque posture marking a landmark of distinction and excellence. This is home to many embraced as “family” with people from all walks of life! This is where 24 years ago my late husband Don and I found our lovely new home in the tower on the 23rd floor, where the horizon meets the sky in a breathtaking vista!

As a “long-term” resident may I reminisce a bit?     Perhaps it may seem as though you have moved into a “construction zone” with the noise of huge rumbling trucks,  the jarring staccato of  jackhammering from somewhere within, the tall cranes piercing the sky, and the daily rush of the many contractors as they sprint, charts in hand, up and down the floors. This, I note with great satisfaction, is commonly referred to as progress!

Believe me, it was not this way many years ago when a dreary, lifeless color coated the entire outside of the building, including all inside halls and doors of each and every floor! It was not unlike a hotel, when one could not distinguish his room from all the others! Today, with the changes in administration over time, and the inspiration, motivation, and originality of incoming new residents, each floor now boasts lively colors, inviting those who live behind these doors to step out and greet their neighbors with a smile!

Of course, all this did not just “happen,” but rather it took the courage and initiative of many people throughout the years. These “visionaries” believed that beneath the drab, stark outward appearance of our building, it was quite promising that with a team of very talented, resourceful, and innovative people, miracles could happen! Indeed, happen they did!

With careful planning to the future needs of our expanding population, our small, rather bleak dining room was transformed to a spacious, cheerful welcoming area with attractive furniture and lovely artwork on the walls.

Keeping in mind first impressions matter, our previous nondescript lobby became a maze of “staging forms,” extending out from the elevators to the front desk so that a new look could be created, and residents tread carefully for many days under the complex network of scaffolding to get to our dining room! Attractive new facings enhanced the elevator doors, nonslip tile was laid on the lobby floor, and our mailboxes and front desk were reconfigured for greater vision for those working behind the desk. This was not without myriad confusion and provided an unforgettable exercise in patience!

Pilgrim Hall, our “gathering place” for many functions, holds a multitude of memories years past when residents whose latent theatrical talents blossomed as they enjoyed performing “on stage.” These very amusing, hilarious plays written by some of our more creative residents, whose previous vocation had been in the landscape of playwriting,  somehow always managed to project a satire or caricature of a “happening” within our hallowed halls! I was even inspired to participate in several of these plays and found the experience challenging, gratifying, and a real test of one’s memory! It is reassuring to know that Pilgrim Hall, currently undergoing extensive renovation, will provide our residents a bright, comfortable area in which to once again enjoy a multitude of diverse activities and programs.

As we age, exercise and mobility becomes more important, and that very fact is admirably reflected in our state-of-the-art Wellness Center. Careful attention and thought were given to the safety and the needs of residents, and instructors and trainers were hired with excellent credentials who would maintain the highest standards required. The pleasing ambiance of our Wellness Center beckons those who wish to find strength, relaxation, and companionship.

In the near future, we will have the very best that life has to offer with the completion of our new, much anticipated, “Memory Care Residence,” housed within the Northwest Garden Building, with a dedicated focus on creating a loving, safe retreat for those who require that very special care. The living areas will be thoughtfully designed with cheerful colors providing a soothing atmosphere, and will provide hope, peace, and joy to all who enter there, that each may live life with serenity and dignity as they make their final journey.

It is with a grateful heart that I pause and reflect on nearly 24 years in my home in the Tower, living within a vibrant community of people, where I have made lasting friends, and where new companions are warmly welcomed.  For many years I have watched as “Plymouth Harbor on Sarasota Bay” has evolved into the impressive structure we see today.

Maintaining this level of excellence will continue to be guided, advised, and directed by our capable administration and staff who prudently calculate and project our future needs with foresight and transparency, always keeping us well informed.

And so it is, the “saga” of the THEN, and NOW!

Your friend and neighbor,

Elsa Price, T-2301


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.


Plymouth Harbor was built more than 50 years ago on Coon Key — home to both native plant and animal life. Over the years, we have added unique and beautiful plant species to help further enhance our environment.

As you walk the grounds, you may notice that our unique plant life is identified with signs displaying both the common and scientific name of the species. Our landscaping team, which consists of Marcos Franca and George Kingston, serve as experts on the plant species here at Plymouth Harbor, performing all groundskeeping duties.

What are some of the most interesting plant species found on campus? The landscaping team sums it up with the following items: the African Tulip tree, which does not normally grow in climates that are not consistently over 70 degrees and is native to the tropical dry forests of Africa; the Gumbo Limbo tree, which has unusual red bark that peels back, reminiscent of sunburned skin, giving it the nickname “tourist tree;” the Banyan tree, with roots and branches that reach the ground; the Floss Silk tree, which grows fast in spurts when water is abundant, and can reach more than 82 feet tall. Below is an aerial photo of the Plymouth Harbor grounds, with each of these species identified.






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 www.Ringling.org.


Epicture123ach year, Plymouth Harbor holds a Skills Fair that allows health care and nursing staff to demonstrate competence in skills that are used daily to provide the best possible care for our residents in the Smith Care Center, the Callahan Center, and those assisted through our Home Health program. This year’s Skills Fair will take place on October 5th, 6th, 19th, and 20th.

During the Skills Fair, various test stations are designed to address topics such as safe transfers, skin integrity, hearing aids, oral care, pericare, foot care, IV insertions, wound care, and more. All health care staff members are required to complete each station and assure competence. There are stations set up specifically for Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs), in addition to stations created for both.

“In order to plan for the future, one has to know where you are now,” says Karen Novak, Director of Health Services. “The Skills Fair is an excellent way to keep our staff members’ skills sharp and up-to-date on best practices and new equipment.”

Plymouth Harbor began the Skills Fair three years ago, which has been growing larger and more successful with each passing year. This year, Smith Care Center’s therapy team will be onsite to work with staff on hip precautions and transfers, utilizing lifts, dietary needs, medication administration, and additional “hot topics.”

As residents become more and more medically complex, Plymouth Harbor’s nursing team is dedicated to providing the knowledge and expertise to address any and all needs. Demonstrated competence ensures better outcomes for our residents, and the annual Skills Fair serves as the perfect time to increase and enhance these skills.


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.”