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Join Us In A Shared Prayer Today at 2 p.m.

June 30, 2020

Join Us For a Prayer at 2 p.m.

We are continuing to pray for the health of all of Westminster, and the world. As we move forward in this journey together, we are reminded that in the face of uncertainty, we must join together in our efforts and put our faith in God. We must look to the power of faith, hope, and love through all of this. Join us today, June 30, at 2 p.m., in this week's shared prayer, which was written by the Rev. Leslie McCarrick, Chaplain at Westminster Woods on Julington Creek, located in Jacksonville.

Download the prayer now

 

Good News This Week

June 26, 2020

Good News This Week

It was an eventful week at our communities; we started off with celebrating Father's Day with so many fun and thoughtful gifts and special events. To stay fit physically and mentally, one community set up a walking trivia event and we started a new Fitness Tip of the Month series with this month's exercise helping to improve balance. We also saw how our communities are staying connected to their faith during the pandemic and how local organizations are helping our residents by sending them letters. Read about all of these wonderful events and more below. 

 

Westminster Communities Celebrate Father’s Day

June 24, 2020

Our communities throughout the state commemorated Father’s Day with gifts and surprises, letting the fathers who live and work in our communities know they are appreciated. Here are a few of the ways we celebrated.

 

Join Us In A Shared Prayer Today at 2 p.m.

June 23, 2020

Join Us For a Shared Day of Prayer
We are continuing to pray for the health of all of Westminster, and the world. As we move forward in this journey together, we are reminded that in the face of uncertainty, we must join together in our efforts and put our faith in God. We must look to the power of faith, hope, and love through all of this. 
Join us today, June 23, at 2 p.m., in this week's shared prayer, which was written by the Rev. Dr. Laura Baskett, Chaplain at College Arms Towers and Hugh Ash Manor, located in DeLand.

Download the prayer now

 

‘How Do We Rely On Our Faith?’ Community Chaplains Help Residents Find Spiritually Grounding Amid A Pandemic

June 22, 2020

Spiritual WellnessWith senior living communities sheltering in place amid a pandemic, residents of Westminster Communities of Florida found a need for spiritual wellbeing more than ever. As a faith-based, not-for-profit organization, we emphasize wellness of spirit as well as body and mind – all part of our My W Life program for whole-person wellbeing.

For the chaplains who serve our more than 7,000 residents, that has meant getting creative in using technology to tend to their flocks.

Rev. Jeff Parkkila, chaplain at Westminster Winter Park, heard from many residents who couldn’t get to their pastors or their churches. “Many of our colleagues in churches had moved online. So we adapted technology to help us – preach, record and post,” Parkkila said.

Parkkila has been recording sermons three times a week, offering encouragement to residents. On Sunday mornings, he has also scheduled a block of worship services provided by Central Florida churches to re-broadcast on the community’s in-house TV system, with Catholic, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Baptist and Methodist churches’ services for residents to choose.

With the support of the Resident Lifestyle team, Rev. Steven Bell, chaplain at Westminster Palms in St. Petersburg, has been using YouTube and Facebook as well as the in-house TV system to distribute his message to residents. Bell records a weekly service and posts it on the community’s YouTube channel.

In Jacksonville, Rev. Leslie McCarrick from Westminster Woods on Julington Creek found that she had to make the abrupt shift away from in-person activity – especially to support Assisted Living and Health Center residents at the community. “Rather than do group activities, I offer these on a one to one basis in our Health Center as well as Assisted Living and Memory Care,” McCarrick said. She joins the residents in singing hymns, and if she doesn’t know the words, she finds the hymn on YouTube.

At other communities, the inspiration is to draw on the support of the Resident Lifestyle teams’ focus for each week. Rev. Jan Banker, chaplain at Westminster Shores in St. Petersburg, gives a daily prayer which she writes and videotapes somewhere outside on the beautiful waterfront campus. She often matches what the Resident Lifestyle team is doing. Banker also videotapes weekly worship in the chapel with a resident volunteer accompanist.

Westminster Communities of Florida is pleased to have a chaplain serving to our residents’ spiritual wellbeing at every community. It’s all part of our MyWLife program for wellbeing of body, mind and soul. To learn more, contact us now or call us today to find out more at (800) 948-1881.

 

Good News This Week

June 19, 2020

Good News This Week
This week started off with celebrating the adoption of the stars and stripes on the United States flag on Flag Day, we also thanked our outstanding team members with an Ice Cream surprise that was enjoyed by all! Our new CEO, Terry Rogers, gave a message to both our residents and team members introducing himself and sharing his goals for Westminster in the future. We finished off the week with the start of National Nursing Assistants week celebrating our Certified Nursing Assistants! Read more about Westminster Communities of Florida's good news this week below.

 

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Join Us In A Shared Prayer Today at 2 p.m.

June 16, 2020

Join Us For a Shared Day of Prayer

We are continuing to pray for the health of all of Westminster, and the world. As we move forward in this journey together, we are reminded that in the face of uncertainty, we must join together in our efforts and put our faith in God. We must look to the power of faith, hope, and love through all of this. Join us today, June 16, at 2 p.m., in this week's shared prayer, which was written by the Rev. Jeff Parkkila, M.Div., BCC Chaplain at Westminster Winter Park.

Download the prayer now

 

Marilyn Cameron of Westminster Woods on Julington Creek Receives Eli Pick Facility Leadership Award

June 11, 2020

Marilyn Cameron Recieves Award

The American College of Health Care Administrators (ACHCA) honored Marilyn Cameron, Health Services Administrator at Westminster Woods on Julington Creek, with the 2020 Eli Pick Facility Leadership Award.

Based on the premise that facility excellence reflects leadership excellence, this award recognizes Cameron for providing such leadership for the full 2019 calendar year. Eligibility for this award is based on three years of skilled nursing facility survey data, including the Health, Fire Safety, and Complaint Surveys, as well as top quartile performance on designated Quality Measures. The criteria also include at least an 80% or greater facility occupancy and a three-year avoidance of a Special Focus Facility status. This prestigious award is made possible with the support of ABILITY® Network Inc. Cameron is one of only 78 administrators throughout the United States to be recognized with the Eli Pick Facility Leadership Award.

“This award is truly a team accomplishment and a testament to all of the Westminster Woods skilled nursing employees’ commitment to caring for the senior population.  It is a facility award and should have everyone’s name on it!” Cameron said.

Brian Tenney, Executive Director at Westminster Woods on Julington Creek, congratulated Cameron on this recognition. “We are proud of Marilyn and her team for this great accomplishment.  We are fortunate to have Marilyn as our Administrator for more than 8 years.  Our results are reflective of Marilyn’s consistent and compassionate leadership.”

The Facility Leadership Award was introduced in 2008 by one of ACHCA’s most revered leaders, the late Eli Pick. A former executive director of the Ballard Rehabilitation Center, Des Plaines, IL for over 30 years, Eli embodied excellence as an Administrator that cared for his residents, their families, and his community. This award is presented annually in memory of Eli, a consummate member of ACHCA, dedicated to advancing professionalism and leadership in long term care. Additional information regarding the award can be viewed at www.achca.org/eli-pick-facility-leadership.

About American College of Health Care Administrators (ACHCA): Founded in 1962, ACHCA is the only professional association devoted solely to meeting the professional needs of today's long-term care administrator and executive. ACHCA's mission focuses on advancing leadership excellence in long-term care through the provision of leadership education, promotion of professional advancement programs such as Fellowship, and the keystone, Mentoring Program. ACHCA’s diverse membership includes administrators from across the continuum of post-acute and aging services care.

About Westminster Woods on Julington Creek: Westminster Woods on Julington Creek is The Natural Choice for active senior living, ideally located on the shores of Julington Creek, a half-mile-wide tributary of the St. Johns River. Our beautiful, wooded campus of nearly 90 acres combines neighborhoods of detached villas and garden and waterfront apartment homes. We have served senior adults in Jacksonville and St. Johns County for more than 50 years, with an emphasis on exceptional living options, whole-person wellbeing and Lifelong Learning, backed by a financially strong and Mission-inspired, faith-based community.

 

Join Us In A Shared Prayer Today at 2 p.m.

June 9, 2020

We are continuing to pray for the health of all of Westminster, and the world. As we move forward in this journey together, we are reminded that in the face of uncertainty, we must join together in our efforts and put our faith in God. We must look to the power of faith, hope, and love through all of this. Join us today, June 9, at 2 p.m., in this week's shared prayer, which was written by the Rev. Kathy Menser, Chaplain at Westminster Village.

Download the prayer now

 

Westminster Communities of Florida Residents and Team Members Release A Video Singing Together, Virtually

June 5, 2020

More Than 40 Join Together To Sing ‘What The World Needs Now (Is Love)’ Via Video

Today, Westminster Communities of Florida is pleased to release a video featuring more than 40 residents and team members singing in unison to provide a little positivity in a challenging time for the world.

The video combines residents and team members singing “What The World Needs Now (Is Love)” by Jackie DeShannon. They represent communities throughout the state, on behalf of the more than 7,000 residents and 2,700 team members who are part of the Westminster family.

“In our current circumstances, we find now more than ever that the world needs love and healing. Between those of all ages, all ethnicities and all beliefs,” said Chief Operating Officer Garry Hennis. “Everyone deserves dignity. So our residents and team members came together to share some positivity and a little love.”

Westminster Communities of Florida, the nation’s 12th-largest not-for-profit senior living organization, serves more than 7,000 residents in 22 communities throughout Florida.

For more fun, be sure to follow us on LinkedIn or Facebook today.

 

Join Us In A Shared Prayer Today at 2 p.m.

June 2, 2020

Join Us In A Shared Prayer Today at 2 p.m.

We are continuing to pray for the health of all of Westminster, and the world. As we move forward in this journey together, we are reminded that in the face of uncertainty, we must join together in our efforts and put our faith in God. We must look to the power of faith, hope, and love through all of this. Join us today, June 2, at 2 p.m., in this week's shared prayer, which was written by the Rev. Dr. James Vande Berg, a resident at Westminster St. Augustine.

Download the prayer now

 

Good News This Week

May 29, 2020

Good News This Week

This week started with the remembrance of the brave men and women of our country, and thanking the veterans who are part of the Westminster family for their service. We saw our communities staying active while social distancing and receive an encouraging video message from a past visiting speaker, and more. Read more good news stories from this week below!



 

Thanks To An Orlando-Area Church That Donated More Than 250 Masks to Westminster Residents

May 27, 2020

Local Church Donates Over 250 Masks to Westminster Residents

For the safety of everyone at our communities, we require that all team members wear a face covering while at work, and strongly encourage residents to do so whenever they leave their homes.

But it’s not easy getting enough face masks to support 7,000 residents and 3,000 team members! Read about some of the donations we’ve received previously from volunteers, residents and staff.

One local church group took matters into their own hands, turning their quilt-making group that provides blankets for the homeless into a “Mask Ministry.” They have produced more than 1,000 masks since the start of this pandemic.

Members of St. John Lutheran Church in Winter Park were inspired by the 100 Million Mask Challenge to make high-quality, non-medical masks for residents of senior living communities, those made vulnerable due to health conditions, and the homeless throughout Central Florida.

Karen Goldsmith, an attorney, is the ministry’s coordinator. She said that within the first few weeks of beginning in late March, the group made more than 900 masks and had already far exceeded their original goal.

“We set out thinking we’d make 200 or 300 and we’d be done,” Goldsmith said. “But every time we bring the masks somewhere, we hear that they need even more.”

Westminster Towers and Westminster Winter Park have received more than 250 masks donated from the Mask Ministry. We are very thankful to have these contributions to help residents take precautions.

The group of 12 in the Mask Ministry – Goldsmith, Karen Schneeberger, Shelda Wilkins, Debbie Carl, Leigh Nicoll, Mary Jacob, Anita Bormann, Yvonni Lopera, Gwen Kowalski, Erica Magtyra, Tyler Magtyra, Jeff Hooie — wanted to help seniors and the homeless so that they can stay safe. “We offered the masks first to Orlando Lutheran Towers, and after that the Orlando Rescue Mission,” Goldsmith said. “When we heard about the need, we expanded to include the residents at Westminster Towers and Westminster Winter Park.”

They divided their labor into cutting, sewing and delivery: Six sew, five cut the material and two pick up and delivery, with some overlap in roles.

Goldsmith said that the hardest part of making the masks has been getting the material. “It’s been impossible to get elastic or material for the interfacing,” she said. “I always have a stash of fabric to make the outside of the masks. We recently made some for a pediatric practice and I had what I needed to make really cute ones for the kids.”

“These masks are needed so badly!” said Goldsmith. “It’s been a fun way and an important way for us to make a difference.”

Westminster Communities of Florida appreciates all of the contributions from the Mask Ministry at St. John Lutheran Church in Winter Park. To learn what we’re doing to navigate the pandemic, and how you can contribute, visit our Coronavirus (COVID-19) News and Resources page.

 

Shared Day of Prayer

May 26, 2020

Join Us For a Shared Day of Prayer

We are continuing to pray for the health of all of Westminster, and the world. As we move forward in this journey together, we are reminded that in the face of uncertainty, we must join together in our efforts and put our faith in God. We must look to the power of faith, hope, and love through all of this. Join us today, May 26, at 2 p.m., in this week's shared prayer, which was written by the Rev.Carmelo Mercado, Chaplain at Magnolia Towers and Westminster Plaza.

Download the prayer now

 

Good News This Week

May 22, 2020

Good News This WeekIt has been a great week at Westminster. We were honored to welcome Vice President Mike Pence and Governor Ron DeSantis, who visited Westminster Baldwin Park to deliver PPE for our team members. Meanwhile, our Foundation announced that residents have contributed more than $100,000 to support team members who have been impacted by COVID-19. Our communities have also been enjoying events, such as a butterfly release and a U.S. Air Force flyover.

 

Vice President Pence, Governor DeSantis Visit Westminster Baldwin Park To Deliver Personal Protective Equipment

May 20, 2020

Vice President Mike Pence  and Governor Ron DeSantis Deliver PPE to  Westminster Baldwin Park

ORLANDO, May 20 – Today, Westminster Baldwin Park was pleased to welcome to our community Vice President of the United States Mike Pence, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Administrator Seema Verma. Their visit was to deliver much-needed personal protective equipment (PPE) for the safety of our residents and team members, through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Westminster Baldwin Park, a neighborhood of Westminster Winter Park, is an active senior living community featuring independent living residences and a 40-bed Rapid Recovery Unit for skilled nursing.

“We are pleased that Vice President Pence, Governor DeSantis and Administrator Verma came to Westminster Baldwin Park to show their support for the residents we serve and for senior living communities,” said Westminster Winter Park Executive Director Tom Rockenbach.

From left, Shirley Schultz, Director of Nursing, and Fanley Romelus, Health Services Administrator, hold boxes of personal protective equipment signed by Vice President Pence, Governor DeSantis and Administrator Verma.

Pence, DeSantis and Verma delivered 10 boxes of gowns, gloves and surgical masks from the federal government to Westminster Baldwin Park. It was part of Verma’s initiative to send supplies, on behalf of CMS, to the more than 10,000 skilled nursing facilities throughout the United States.

All three signed several supply boxes for the community. Afterward, Pence commented, “I actually delivered these personally on Air Force Two today.”

Following the delivery, Pence and DeSantis greeted the nursing team members at Westminster Baldwin Park via cell phone to thank them for their hard work in serving older adults. “We are incredibly proud to be here and to meet you,” Pence said. “Here at Westminster Baldwin Park, you have done a phenomenal job of caring for our vulnerable seniors. On behalf of the president and the United States, thank you all very much and god bless you. Keep up the great work!”

From left, DeSantis and Pence speak with Schultz and Romelus about the challenges of providing a safe environment for residents and team members.

Although Pence, DeSantis and Verma weren’t able to come into Westminster Baldwin Park for safety, Pence and DeSantis gave a special greeting to the residents, who were lined up in their windows to watch.

DeSantis joined the call to offer his thanks. “The fact that you have gone so long without a single case shows that you have done a great job,” said DeSantis.

Westminster Baldwin Park is fortunate that none of our residents or team members have tested positive for COVID-19. We have put in place a variety of active measures to ensure the safety of everyone at our community.

We thank Vice President Pence, Gov. DeSantis, FEMA and the Trump administration for their support in making senior living communities like ours safer.

To learn how we’re navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, visit our COVID-19 resources page at www.WestminsterCommunitiesFL.org/coronavirus-news-and-resources

Verma, DeSantis and Pence wave to Westminster Baldwin Park residents at the end of their visit.

 

Join Us In A Shared Prayer Today at 2 p.m.

May 19, 2020

Join Us In A Shared Prayer Today

We are continuing to pray for the health of all of Westminster, and the world. As we move forward in this journey together, we are reminded that in the face of uncertainty, we must join together in our efforts and put our faith in God. We must look to the power of faith, hope, and love through all of this. Join us today, May 19, at 2 p.m., in this week's shared prayer, which was written by the Rev. Steven Bell, Chaplain at Westminster Palms, St. Petersburg.

Download the prayer now

 

‘Touched and Humbled By An Outpouring of Support’

May 18, 2020

Foundation Raises More Than $100,000 to Support Employees Affected by COVID-19

Westminster Retirement Communities Foundation Raises More Than $107,000 In Just Six Weeks to Support Team Members Affected by COVID-19

When it became apparent that the outbreak of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) throughout Florida was having an impact on the counties where our communities are located, Westminster Communities of Florida was faced with the challenge of how to support team members who may have been affected.

For someone who was facing a COVID-19 diagnosis for themselves or a family member, taking a substantial amount of time off could still be a financial hardship, even though the organization offers our team members a generous paid-leave program and health insurance benefits. We feel blessed that our communities have been so little affected, with only a single team member with a positive diagnosis out of 3,000. But some have been impacted disproportionately within their own families.

That’s why the Westminster Retirement Communities Foundation launched the Care In Crisis Campaign, an extension of the Foundation’s Mercy Fund, to raise funds to provide grants to supplement lost income for team members who are directly affected.

This generosity has made a world of difference! In just six weeks, the Care In Crisis Campaign has raised $107,000 and counting, with more than 300 gifts received, from residents and their families, team members, and members of our Board of Directors.

The Mercy Fund has been in existence for 20 years, and has always provided financial assistance to team members who have experienced a devastating occurrence in their lives that leaves them and their families in need. But the special Care In Crisis has seen an unprecedented outpouring of support.

Noreen Levitt, Vice President of Development for Westminster Communities of Florida, is sharing her gratitude to the amazing people who have helped the Care In Crisis Campaign. “We are grateful to the residents, families, staff and Board Members who have so generously contributed to the Care in Crisis campaign during these challenging times,” Levitt said.

Residents said their gifts were given in a variety of ways, but all motivated to support the team members who work so hard in their communities every day.

“I am from New York and after seeing the devastation in New York City, it made me appreciate all of the precautions being taken here at Westminster Palms,” said Valerie Webb, a resident at Westminster Palms and donor to the Care In Crisis Campaign. “I feel safe and secure here even during this pandemic. And the reason I feel safe is due to the efforts of the team members who continue to come to work every day during this crisis. This gift was a way to show my appreciation and gratitude for all of the team members and the sacrifices they make so that we can continue to live here comfortably.”

Another couple who made a gift, Millie and Mac Fryman, said they also wanted to show their well wishes to those who work in their community. “We hope they are well physically, spiritually, and economically, but if they are suffering, all we can do is to provide is financial support,” they said. “We are all in this unfamiliar season of our lives together. By extending helping hands through the Mercy Fund to those who have contributed so much to us, we honor the true meaning of community.”

Levitt said that these gifts have helped the Foundation exceed its goal for the Care In Crisis Campaign. “The benevolence of our donors has enabled the Foundation to very quickly exceed our fundraising goal of $100,000,” said Levitt. “We are both touched and humbled by the outpouring of support to this very worthy cause.”

Our team members appreciate this generosity, and the assurance of knowing that if the global pandemic affects them or their families, the Westminster family is here to support them.

To learn more about how you can contribute to the Mercy Fund and the Westminster Retirement Communities Foundation, visit our Foundation website.

 

Enjoy Our Good News From This Week

May 15, 2020

Good News This Week

This week started off on Mother's Day with our communities celebrating their mothers in fun and creative ways, from parades to virtual messages. We also saw the second half of National Nurses Week and how our Westminster team members are being thanked for their endless efforts to support our residents during the pandemic. Supporting local businesses is important while we are practicing social distancing, which is what one Westminster board member did by donating 400 pints of ice cream from a local creamery to team members. Find out more of the good news from Westminster this week below.

 

Food Donations to Riverside Presbyterian Apartments

May 14, 2020

Supporting Local Businesses and Feeding Senior Living Communities

Riverside Presbyterian Apartments recieves Food donation from Bellwether Restaurant

This week, residents at Riverside Presbyterian Apartments were delighted to receive 110 donated restaurant meals from Bellwether, a restaurant in downtown Jacksonville. The delicious, reheatable meals came with eggplant parmesan and penne pasta, a steak-and-cheese flatbread, hunter’s stew and a chocolate chip cookie.

It’s all part of Feeding Northeast Florida’s Project SHARE (Solving Hunger and Assisting Restaurant Employees), a program to support local restaurants and provide food to senior living communities throughout Duval County.

Riverside Presbyterian Apartments is an senior living community in Jacksonville’s Five Points neighborhood, serving older adults with low incomes.

Last week’s delivery included roast chicken breast with a sweet potato hash, broccoli soup and cinnamon bread pudding.

“At a time of uncertainty, the meals provided by Bellwether reminded us of the good in the world,” said Kathy Trussell, Administrator at Riverside Presbyterian Apartments. “It presented the only certain thing, that we are in this together.”

In recent weeks, Feeding Northeast Florida has partnered with Bellwether to donate hundreds of meals to low-income communities throughout Jacksonville. According to Reggie Dokes, Feeding Northeast Florida outreach manager, Bellwether is making more than 300 meals daily to donate.

“Our goal is to help keep restaurant staff employed. We take food that’s been donated to the food bank that they can cook, and then we donate it to local groups,” said Dokes.

We look forward to continuing to enjoy the delicious cuisine provided by Bellwether. Thanks to Project SHARE and Feeding Northeast Florida for their kind support!

 

Westminster Celebrates National Nurses Week

May 12, 2020

Celebrating National Nurses Week

This past week we have celebrated the nursing team who serve in the Westminster family during National Nurses Week, with interviews, raffles, parties, goodie bags, and so much more. Nursing is a calling, and now more than ever, we appreciate them and all of our team members for their dedication and sacrifice to ensuring the safety of all residents and employees.

Today, National Nurses Week ends with Florence Nightingale's 200th birthday. Nightingale was the pioneer of modern-day nursing. Her passion for helping others and improving medicine is an inspiration for many today, who were called to follow the same path. At a time of a global pandemic, nursing commands respect throughout our society today.

Is the call to serve older adults within you? Learn how you can Work With Excellence, Serve With Heart today — we have opportunities now! Visit our Careers Page.

This year, here are just some of the ways we honored our nursing team at communities all throughout the state.

Flowers

Flower pots displayed to be given out to nursing team at Westminster Palms.

A Prayer of Blessing and Thanks

Chaplain's cart with printed prayers to hand out and a stone painted with the saying "You're Amazing".

Goodie Bags For All

Three nurses holding the goodie bags they were given for National Nurses Week.

Raffle

Four staff holding the goodie bags to be given to the nursing team standing around a table full of the raffle prizes. 

 

Join Us In A Shared Prayer Today at 2 p.m.

May 12, 2020

Join Us In Prayer

We are continuing to pray for the health of all of Westminster, and the world. As we move forward in this journey together, we are reminded that in the face of uncertainty, we must join together in our efforts and put our faith in God. We must look to the power of faith, hope, and love through all of this. Join us today, May 12, at 2 p.m., in this week's shared prayer, which was written by the Rev. Holly Wildhack, Chaplain at Westminster Manor.

Download the prayer now

 

A Calling of the Heart: An Interview with Three Directors of Nursing

May 11, 2020

As we honor the nurses who serve our residents throughout the state, one thing is clear: Caring for the residents we serve is a calling to them, and the heart of our Mission. Today we meet three Directors of Nursing to learn how they found careers in senior living communities – Jacqueline King, from Westminster St. Augustine; Niki Perez at Westminster Oaks in Tallahassee; and Laure Zulkowski from Westminster Winter Park – and what inspires them at a time of pandemic.

“Nursing is really a calling,” said Zulkowski. “At Westminster, we put the residents first, do the right thing for the right reason. That’s the way we should be practicing.”

Zulkowski said that she has always known she wanted to be a nurse and work in senior living. “I knew from when I was 13. I worked as a CNA in a nursing home, and then I just got pulled into long-term care,” she said. “I was one of those kids who was always interested in helping others, whether it’s other kids or an injured animal.”

Her relationship with the residents and their families, and a desire to help them understand, is what’s making the difference right now, she said. “The trust we have with the families has been helpful to us and to them. Early on, we had families call and say, ‘Should I take my mom out?’ But we reassured them through education.”

Perez, a nurse for more than 30 years, agreed that spending time with the families is an important reassurance while they can’t visit. “We spend more time with them than ever,” she said. “We’re really starting to be the second families of the residents.”

After a career in restaurants early in her life, Perez said being kind and good hospitality were second nature to her. “I’d always wanted to be a nurse, and kindness is even more important in nursing than when you’re working for tips. I discovered that I had an even greater capacity to care,” said Perez. “It’s great when your passion becomes what you do.”

At Westminster St. Augustine, King said that a love of people is what drew her to long-term care.  “Right now, there’s an emphasis on keeping seniors safe, so as a nurse, that makes me want to make a difference now more than ever,” she said.

After more than 15 years of nursing, King has worked in almost every setting available — she found working in a senior living community after nursing in a hospital intensive care unit, a hospice and in a home care setting, and was moved by the loving care her aunt received at another community. “I was so impressed and so inspired that I ended up switching to long-term care after that,” she said.

King has a master’s degree in nursing education, and she said that being patient and teaching our team members and residents on how to manage can make a difference for everyone. “I have always been caring, I’ve always loved them. This has changed how the whole world works. Now, I can educate them more, show them how we’re trying to keep them safe,” King said.

With the spread of a pandemic like COVID-19, the tasks they perform have changed, but the core emphasis of nursing hasn’t, all three Directors of Nursing said. “Take this as an example of what could happen,” said Zulkowski. “We’re not doing anything different so much as we’re doing more of everything.”

Perez added, “This isn’t anything we can’t handle. A lot of things are probably going to stay this way until they find a vaccine, unfortunately. But this is our routine now.”

“Your heart has to be in it, 100 percent, right now,” King said. “We have to keep the residents’ needs first and foremost.”

This National Nurses Week, these nurses say that the best way you can share your appreciation is to be kind and be understanding. Zulkowski said, “Everyone I speak to always follows up with, ‘You’re doing a great job.’ They seem to understand the sacrifices we’re making to keep the residents safe.”

King agreed: “It’s not just about our work, it’s about the people we’re caring for.”

How can you Work With Excellence and Serve With Heart in serving the residents of Westminster Communities of Florida? Read more about it on our Careers page.

 

Enjoy Our Good News For The Week

May 8, 2020

We're happy to be able to share some good news to cheer you up on a Friday. This week, we had a bunch of great events and news. Our residents enjoyed an ice cream surprise and saw some encouraging and creative chalk art from their homes. We also shared news about how we're helping residents enjoy virtual visits with their families and celebrated the first part of National Nurses Week with a letter from our Chief Operating Officer and an interview with three Registered Nurses. Read on to see all the great news from this week!

 

Why Nursing Matters Now: An Interview with Three Team Members

May 7, 2020

This week, we’re celebrating the amazing nursing teams at our communities throughout the state who serve the residents of Westminster Communities of Florida. At a time of global pandemic, these dedicated team members are on the front lines of keeping residents safe every day. They are our heroes in masks and gowns, and their commitment to our Mission is central to what we do.

Today, we learn more about why the work these team members do is so critical at a time of a global pandemic. We’ll meet three nurses – Jamie Sullivan, Director of Nursing at Westminster Manor in Bradenton; Latrice McCullough, a nurse at Westminster Towers in Orlando; and Brenda Julian, a nurse at Westminster Manor.

“Now especially, long-term care nursing is essential. It is a specialty, but more than that, it truly is a calling. We are drawn to it,” Jamie Sullivan said.

Sullivan was called to nursing herself after following an unusual path of studying engineering and business. “No education is ever lost. I love knowledge and I love education,” she said. She came to Westminster Manor after working in emergency room care and even an international medical rescue company.

Another nurse, Latrice McCullough, is a former Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and even worked in manufacturing for a time, before she found her calling as a nurse. Her time as a CNA motivated her to stay in health care, and to go to school to become an LPN.

McCullough found her calling because her sister was a CNA, and advised her to give it a try. “We learned about all the book stuff in class, but finding the residents made all the difference,” she said. “I love talking to the residents and learning from them. They’re so wise.”

One of the nurses at Westminster Manor, Brenda Julian, a Licensed Practical Nurse, found her calling to nursing much earlier — she worked at Westminster Point Pleasant as a volunteer in the activities department while she was in high school. Julian said she fell in love with caring for the residents. “The residents are like my family,” she said. “We are there for them.”

Nursing matters now more than ever, Julian said, because our team members are the residents’ main support when their families can’t visit. “We’re not only their physical support — we are their emotional and spiritual support, too. One of the biggest things I can do for them is cheer them up, I work the night shift and I’m one of the first people they see in the day.”

McCullough concurred, adding that the nurses’ job is to relieve the stress for families at a time of pandemic. “The families who entrust us with their loved ones need to know that they mean a lot to us, too. They know that their family members are safe and that we are taking care of them the best that we can.”

The most important way to keep everyone safe right now, said Sullivan, is to act decisively and in the interest of safety first. “We are blessed to have an organization that is putting the residents first,” Sullivan said. “We don’t hesitate. As soon as more information comes out, we act, and our leadership has been there, 100% of the way.”

McCullough said that she felt that, at a time of pandemic, the communities were well-prepared to keep the residents safe and secure. “We feel, as employees, that Westminster has handled this situation very well – and quickly. It was, ‘A, B, C, then, let’s go team!’ ” she said.

“This is not the time to give up!” said Julian. “Every day’s a learning experience. Some days are harder than others, but you just have to keep on.”

Do you have a calling to care for older adults? Learn more about how you can Work With Excellence, Serve With Heart as part of our nursing team today on our Careers page.

 

A Letter from COO Garry Hennis: National Nurses Week

May 6, 2020

I'm excited to join the Westminster family and our whole country in celebrating the dedicated women and men who have chosen the profession of nursing, all throughout the month of May. More than 300 Licensed and Registered Nurses support the Westminster Mission throughout our communities, sharing in our commitment to the quality of our residents’ lives and their wellbeing.

Next Tuesday, we will celebrate Florence Nightingale's 200th birthday. Nightingale served during another time of great tumult, treating British soldiers during the Crimean War and later founding the modern nursing profession in England. Nurses are still called to their profession today the way they were two centuries ago — driven by a desire to serve and a willingness to sacrifice for those in their care.

We especially celebrate the nurses of Westminster Communities of Florida. As a faith-based, not-for-profit senior living organization, “Nurses Make A Difference” is something we live every day. During our time of global pandemic, the nursing team’s inspiring dedication amid endless challenges and restrictions, has ensured the residents’ safety and wellbeing. Right now, they are not just caregivers but a source of emotional and social support to the residents we serve.

They also inspire us to consider additional education and training to join the profession of nursing – often at great personal sacrifice. Women and men from all departments have been moved to respond to the call.

All throughout May, as we celebrate National Nurses Week and National Skilled Nursing Care Week, we will share the stories of our team members, our clinical support team, and residents who are retired nurses how their profession has moved them and why nursing matters right now. Each has said the same thing, in different ways: They have responded to the call to serve our Mission of the Heart. I look forward to sharing their stories with you.

I am so grateful for the nurses who choose to serve the residents and families of Westminster Communities of Florida. On behalf of all of us, thank you!

Gratefully yours,

Garry Hennis
Chief Operating Officer

 

Video Calls Help Assisted Living and Health Center Residents Stay Connected With Families and Friends

May 5, 2020

While we continue to take a variety of precautions to protect residents and staff, one such measure — restricting visitors — has been hard on the people who choose to live at a Westminster community and their families.

That’s why Westminster Communities of Florida created our Resident Family Connection program to facilitate video calls between Assisted Living and Health Center residents and their family members. A video call can be a support for someone who misses seeing their grandkids, or a lifeline for husband and wife to stay in touch when one is receiving long-term nursing care or recuperating from a major surgery.

We’re pleased that, since we launched this program, we’ve supported nearly 700 such calls!

“It’s been wonderful to be able to see and talk to my parents with these video calls,” said Suzanne Heffinger, whose parents live at Westminster Towers in Orlando. Heffinger said that, with all the necessary restrictions that are in place for the safety of all residents and employees, it’s been hard not visiting her parents – but also a reassurance that they’re safe. “Missing out on a month or a few months is so important, I’d rather that they be safe,” she said. “They would not have been able to do these video calls on their own, but every Friday at 12 o’clock, someone’s there to help them get on FaceTime.”

The Resident Family Connection calls are a mix of Zoom video chats using our Panasonic Toughbooks and FaceTime and Skype calls using residents’ own phones and tablets.

Restrictions on visitation to Assisted Living and the Health Center have been ordered by executive order of Governor DeSantis and by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS). Westminster Communities of Florida has taken a variety of other active measures to limit the risk of spread at our communities.

Stefani Gonzalez, whose mother lives at Westminster Manor in Bradenton, says that the Resident Family Connection program has helped her stay in touch with friends, family and faith groups. “Before all of this, I used to visit with my mom for several hours a day,” Gonzalez said. “To us, it’s very heartwarming to be able to see her. My sister who lives abroad is using Zoom with Mom, too.”

Another way that residents are able to stay connected with their families is a creative one — e-mails with greetings and photos delivered in person. At Westminster Oaks in Tallahassee, Martha Inman, Assisted Living Activities Coordinator, started an “Email-A-Gram” program recently. The team encourages Assisted Living residents’ family members to e-mail their greetings and photos, and then they print them out and deliver them during the residents’ video calls.

“These Email-A-Grams have made a great and positive improvement on communication with our families,” said Katherine Stephens, whose mother lives at Westminster Oaks.

Mario DeLuca, Director of Resident Experience for Westminster Communities of Florida, said that our team members feel that the Resident Family Connection program has made an impact in helping relieve residents’ isolation. “It’s hard not having your family visit,” he said, “but we’re so pleased that the Resident Family Connection program has enabled so many to make video calls and help stay connected. The residents really seem to love them.”

To learn more about how residents and their families can stay connected, visit our Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources page.

 

Join Us In A Shared Prayer Today at 2 p.m.

May 5, 2020

We are continuing to pray for the health of all of Westminster, and the world. As we move forward in this journey together, we are reminded that in the face of uncertainty, we must join together in our efforts and put our faith in God. We must look to the power of faith, hope, and love through all of this. Join us Today, May 5, at 2 p.m., in this week's shared prayer, which was written by the Rev. Chaplain Taylor Phillips, Chaplain at Westminster Oaks.

Download the prayer now

 

Letter to the Editor - A Medical Director's Concern About Keeping Nursing Homes Safe

May 1, 2020

We are sharing with you a published Letter to the Editor from The Tallahassee Democrat written by the Medical Director at our community in Tallahassee, and former president of AMDA - The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care, advocating for all of Florida’s senior living communities at a time of global pandemic.

Florida Must Take Aggressive Action On Nursing Homes

Despite actions taken to date, including limiting visitation, masking and enhanced infection control procedures, we need a more concerted focus on those institutions that care for the most frail of our elderly population. We must join forces to ensure:

  1. Mandatory testing and contact tracing of all residents and staff of nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
  2. Provision of adequate PPE and training to ensure its proper use.
  3. Contingency plans to move infected residents in separate facilities.
  4. Greater restrictions on transfers from hospital to the nursing home, including mandatory COVID testing.
  5. Greater support of all staff in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, including hazard and sick leave pay.

Florida, home of the oldest population in the country, must be at the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a laser focus on the safety of its most vulnerable citizenry.

Written by Dr. Paul Katz, Medical Director at Westminster Oaks in Tallahassee

 

Enjoy Our Good News for This Week

May 1, 2020

We're happy to be able to share some good news to cheer you up on a Friday. This week, we had a bunch of great events and news. We shared how our Dining Services teams at our communities are bringing fun to home delivery, including a French pantomime. We also continue to thank our outstanding staff for their heroic work with a letter to employees, and showed their safety efforts by wearing protective masks. We also shared news on how we are growing with the new development going on at four communities and their construction progress. Read on to see all the great news from this week!

 

A Letter of Thanks to Our Team Members

April 30, 2020

Today, we are publishing a letter of gratitude to all team members from Chief Operating Officer Garry Hennis and Vice President of Human Resources Mary Klein. As we enter our seventh week of restrictions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, we know how difficult it has been for all of our team members. "You are heroes, and your work is truly essential to our Mission," Hennis and Klein write in the letter. Please join us in thanking everyone in our Westminster family for their continuous dedication to our Mission and keeping our communities safe.

Read the Letter to Employees

 

Join Us In A Shared Prayer Today at 2 p.m.

April 28, 2020

Join Us In A Shared Day of Prayer on Tuesdays

We are continuing to pray for the health of all of Westminster, and the world. As we move forward in this journey together, we are reminded that in the face of uncertainty, we must join together in our efforts and put our faith in God. He will help us to rise. We must look for the power of faith, hope, and love through all of this. Join us Today, April 28, at 2 p.m., in this week's shared prayer, which was written and will be led by the Rev. Patricia Vann, Chaplain at Westminster Gardens.

Download the prayer now

 

How We Make Dining Fun

April 27, 2020

For residents at Westminster Communities of Florida, dining is supposed to delicious, nutritious – and fun! At a time of disruption, with our communities doing in-home dining delivery, it’s more important than ever that we make residents’ dining experiences more than just a meal.

Over the last few weeks, our dining teams have been providing a little extra delight with special dinners, unexpected treats and even costumed delivery.

“Beyond delivering meals daily to our residents during this global pandemic we still know how important dining is to our residents,” said Mario DeLuca, Director of Resident Experience for Westminster Communities of Florida. “We want to go above and beyond by offering delicious and nutritious meals and special food treats that lift residents’ spirits and connects them to the community.”

That has taken quite a few different forms, from special notes and birthday cards, to sundae deliveries and customized bags.

At Westminster Point Pleasant in Bradenton, the team delivered special bakery treats on Sunday morning during the virtual church service broadcast for residents on the community’s TV channel. In St. Petersburg, the Westminster Shores team delivered ice cream by wagon. And Westminster St. Augustine made a special Sunday dinner with braised lamb shanks that really put an exclamation point on the week. Bob Linville, a resident at Westminster St. Augustine, said, “The lamb shanks were by far the best dinner I’ve had in a very long time. Kudos to the dining services team!”

Perhaps no one has gone further than Westminster Towers in putting the fun back into dining service. The Dining Services team at the community in downtown Orlando dressed up as the Easter bunny and a bunch of carrots for Easter brunch delivery, and started a “Travel At Home” series with a themed trip to Mexico, with the whole staff dressed for the occasion and ready to dance.

“What really matters is that we bring some happiness to our residents by delivering unexpected special treats during the day that lets know we care for them,” said DeLuca.

Learn more about how Westminster Communities of Florida is making dining fun – find out how you can join the team or find your new home today!

 

Enjoy Our Good News From The Week

April 24, 2020

We're happy to be able to share some good news to cheer you up on a Friday. This week, we had a bunch of great events and news. We celebrated the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, and learned about how our communities are working hard to provide new fitness opportunities amid social distancing. We also enjoyed "Thank You Thursday" in thanking our dedicated employees, and welcomed our new CEO, Terry Rogers. Read on to see all the great news from this week!

 

Encouraging Residents To Stay Fit During COVID-19 – Just Keep Moving!

April 22, 2020

Social distancing doesn’t have to mean inactivity. At Westminster Communities of Florida’s 10 active living communities, fitness teams are sharing a common objective: Keep residents fit and active during a pandemic.

From filming videos of their wellness classes to conducting classes that residents can participate in from their balconies or their front doors at a safe distance, our teams are working hard to provide residents every opportunity to stay fit and safe.

 “We’re trying hard to do things differently from how we’ve done them before,” said Director of Resident Experience Mario DeLuca. “We all share the common goal of keeping the residents active and engaged.”

Wellness teams are filming fitness classes and providing the videos to residents on the exclusive MyWLife app, on YouTube, and even airing them throughout the day on the in-house television station.

“We have 20 videos ranging from chair yoga to cardio low-impact, standing stretches and yoga poses, balance class, sculpt and tone, and how to walk with Nordic poles,” said Jeri Jo Fox, Fitness Coordinator at Westminster Woods on Julington Creek in Jacksonville. “We’re keeping them busy with a variety of exercises.”

Fox said that anyone can look on YouTube or pop in a fitness video, but it may be an unfamiliar routine or instructor. By creating our own videos with exercises appropriate to our residents’ fitness level, Westminster communities can offer residents the familiarity with instructors and exercises they already enjoy.

“The residents would rather take classes with our staff than just find somebody else’s videos,” DeLuca said. “They know and trust our staff. So by creating our own content, the residents can enjoy the experience they’re familiar with, and a sense of caring and togetherness.”

Westminster Woods on Julington Creek resident Bill Snell participates in the virtual balance class twice a week. “It basically keeps you going to the point where you don’t lose anything you’ve gained along the way,” Snell said. “It’s very easy to sit back on your butt and do nothing and use this as an excuse to say, ‘Well, I can’t do this now because they’re not offering it.’ They are offering it and we can do it.”

Westminster Baldwin Park Fitness Assistant Kaila Varano leads classes that residents join by coming out on their balconies. “We wanted to continue to offer this service to them, so we had to really think outside of the box and get creative and that’s what we came up with,” Varano said.

“We’ve built up a great wellness culture here that people really want to be a part of,” said Westminster Winter Park Fitness Coordinator Jason Morgan. He and his team lead classes at eight locations around their community for residents to participate in. “It’s not only about the physical exercise, it’s about the culture we’ve created here, the social component, and all of that. They all come out on their balconies and they feel like they can see their neighbors and wave to them.”

Each said that the outcome has been exceptional and attendance has gone up. “It took a global pandemic to get so many people out and exercising,” Varano said. “Yesterday, I had a class that was a record. There were 20 people there and I was thrilled. It’s so exciting to see more people come out.”

“We’re capturing a lot of people who didn’t come to classes before,” Morgan said. “Those who may be curious about what’s going on because everybody else is doing it, maybe because they’re bored, whatever it is, they are coming out and joining in as well.”

What’s the best way for older adults to stay fit during quarantine? Our wellness teams say the best way is to just keep moving.

“Keep moving at all costs, that’s it,” Morgan said, “Find a way to stay active, whether it’s through our videos or it’s your own program, something you’ve carried over from physical therapy, whatever it is, you have to keep moving.

Varano recommends finding a way to move that you enjoy. “Exercise does not have to be punishing, it does not have to be this thing that you don’t look forward to. Find something that you love to do when it comes to movement and stick to that.”

To learn more about the variety of wellbeing opportunities you can enjoy at a Westminster community, contact us now or call (800) 948-1881 today.

 

Westminster Point Pleasant Team Member Food Pantry

April 21, 2020

BRADENTON – While our team members feel fortunate to be at work serving our residents, many of us have family members or loved ones who are out of work due to the pandemic. That can still make it hard to put food on the table.

A few team members at Westminster Point Pleasant had an amazing idea for how they could help: Create a food pantry for those in need, with donated staple food items that can still provide nutrition. The team member food pantry opened last Thursday and they’ve already received hundreds of items, ranging from canned and shelf-stable food to paper towels and toilet paper.

“We were looking for ways to possibly support other team members,” said Sarry Garraud-Thomas, Health Center Admissions Coordinator. Garraud-Thomas is the leader of the committee of team members who volunteered to help create the food pantry, along with Social Services Assistant Marie Christensen, Medical Records Clerk Tina Davis, Staffing Coordinator Terri Smith and Health Services Administrator Erin Blakely. Garraud-Thomas said, “Erin suggested in a meeting that we try a food pantry and run it off donations as much as possible, which sounded like a great idea.”

The food pantry is operating out of the beauty shop in the Towers Building at the community, because the salon is not operating by executive order of the governor.

Having a food pantry for team members allows Westminster Point Pleasant’s staff to show how they care for each other, said Blakely. “Many of our team members have said that their spouses and many of their loved ones are jobless,” she said. “We’re now providing staff meals for free while at work, but what about when they go home?”

Garraud-Thomas said that the response has been overwhelming. “It’s beyond our wildest dreams,” she said. “We’ve been donated so many items from our staff and from our independent living residents, who understand that some families are experiencing some financial difficulties.”

Executive Director Tom Sutton applauded the move as a way to help bring the community together in this challenging time. “We are grateful that all of our staff are still here and working to serve the residents. But even so, their families aren’t immune to hardship. Having the food pantry can help someone put food on the table when they go home to be with their loved ones.”

If you live or work at Westminster Point Pleasant and would like to make a donation to the food pantry, you may leave your donation at the site or provide them to Garraud-Thomas or Christensen. Donated items are restricted to non-perishable goods, because no refrigeration is available.

 

Join Us In A Shared Prayer Today at 2 p.m.

April 21, 2020

Join Us In A Shared Day of Prayer on Tuesdays

We are continuing to pray for the health of all of Westminster, and the world. As we move forward in this journey together, we are reminded that in the face of uncertainty, we must join together in our efforts and put our faith in God. He will help us to rise. We must look for the power of faith, hope, and love through all of this. Join us Today, April 21, at 2 p.m., in this week's shared prayer, which was written and will be led by the Rev. Canon Dennis Kezar, Chaplain at Westminster Point Pleasant.

Download the prayer now

 

Westminster Communities Of Florida Welcomes New Chief Executive Officer Terry Rogers

April 20, 2020

Welcome Terry Rogers, to the Westminster Family! Meet Our New CEOToday, Westminster Communities of Florida welcomes Terry Rogers as its next Chief Executive Officer. Rogers succeeds current CEO Roger Stevens, who is retiring April 24.

“I am not only thrilled to be joining Westminster, but humbled to be joining an organization whose mission of care and service has been put into action today perhaps more than ever,” said Rogers. “The commitment of the Westminster team and residents is awe-inspiring, and I am ready to hit the ground running in supporting all that we do.”

Westminster, the nation’s 12th-largest not-for-profit senior living organization, serves more than 7,000 residents in 22 communities throughout Florida. The Board of Directors announced the appointment of Rogers to succeed Stevens in February 2020, after a national search.

Rogers previously served as President and CEO of Christian Living Communities and Cappella Living Solutions, multi-site senior living and healthcare organization based in Englewood, Colo., near Denver. A graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a degree in Financial Management, Rogers is a noted leader in the field of senior living and a regular presenter at regional and national conferences. He and his wife, Dr. Elizabeth Phillips Rogers, an emergency room physician, have relocated to Central Florida from the Denver area.

Please join us in offering a hearty Westminster welcome to Terry Rogers!

 

Unsung Heroes

April 17, 2020

Unsung Heroes: An Anonymous Letter Sent to Westminster Towers Praising their Staff

We're amazingly thankful for our employees every day. With the spread of a global pandemic, they are on the front lines to ensure the health and wellbeing of our whole community. Today, Westminster Towers received an anonymous letter, extolling the “Unsung Heroes” who keep our community a wonderful place to work and live. We’re sharing the letter so that all of us can appreciate their incredible contributions. We hope you appreciate our employees as much as we do!

We have all heard the praise and thank-you’s to the nurses, doctors and first responders, and rightly so. But what about the heroes who you don’t hear about? The folks behind the scenes: the housekeepers, maintenance crews, cooks, servers, front desk attendants and administration. These people are essential, and without them, a hospital or senior-living facility could not function or exist.

The Unsung Heroes at Westminster Towers are extra special. You have heard the saying, “when times get tough, the tough get going.” This is exactly what these workers are doing. When COVID-19 began, they stepped up and went to work.

The bus drivers could not drive anymore, so now they are washing laundry. The cooks made and packaged all the meals for residents and staff. The servers became kitchen-to-door delivery persons. They did this with no complaints, just smiles and uplifting words. They reached out to the residents and made sure they were all okay.

The bus drivers not only washed load after load of clothes, they went grocery shopping for the residents and delivered the precious cargo to their doors. The maintenance crew kept the air conditioner running on those very hot days. They answered the calls from residents and gave their personal time to stay by the Health Center and check every person in and out. The housekeepers worked hard day after day, scrubbing and sanitizing every nook and cranny. They worked long hours helping with piles of laundry from all the uniforms needing to be washed. If a resident needed something, they were there to help. The fitness ladies became newspaper people. Each and every morning they ran up and down stairs delivering the daily newspapers to residents.

The front desk staff became security guards, CNAs and counselors. They made sure no one other than essential personnel came inside the building. They checked temperatures and double-checked forms to make sure they were completed. They encouraged the residents, monitored them for changes in physical or mental health. They went above and beyond to be able to ease the loneliness and fear that everyone was experiencing. They volunteered to help wherever needed.

The administration rose to the challenge of a tough job, moving mountains in the process. They had to impose and enforce new rules, which is not easy. They greeted cranky, confused and fearful residents with a smile, compassion, understanding and a social-distant hug. They arranged for residents to FaceTime with family members, brightened many lives as a result.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues with an uncertain end, these people keep going and going. They work hard, never complain and always keep the wellbeing of residents first in their priorities. They great you with a smile, a word of encouragement, answer questions and go above and beyond to fulfill your needs.

These are the Unsung Heroes that nobody does chalk art for, no flashing lights outside and no news reports about. But that’s okay. They do not do their jobs for praise; they do it out of love and compassion for the residents and patients they serve.

Tonight when you hear the news reports, and see all the praise for medical personnel, remember these Unsung Heroes. When you lay your head down and say your prayers to give thanks, think about these Unsung Heroes. Remember the good job they are doing and give thanks, because without them and the doctors, nurses and first responders, we would not be managing the pandemic as well as we are.

 

Mission of the Heart: It Is Best To Be Blessed

April 17, 2020

Mission of the Heart with Roger A. Stevens

These are unusual times, to say the least. You all have been exemplary in your service to residents in support of our Mission during this pandemic. I have heard from several residents who sing your praises. For many of us, these can also be scary times. I know some of us have already lost family members to COVID-19. In times like these, I am reminded of the saying, “It’s good to be good, and we are good, but it’s best to be blessed.” No matter how careful we are, no matter how hard we work, there is risk. We need God’s mercy and protection.

I hope you gain some comfort and reassurance from Psalm 34, written by David when he was in circumstances that were overwhelming him. It speaks to today, too.

“I will bless the LORD at all times: His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make her boast in the LORD; the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name forever.

I sought the LORD, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked unto Him and were lightened; and their faces were not ashamed. This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him from all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encamps round about them who fear Him, and delivers them.

O taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the person who trusts in Him. O fear the LORD, you His saints, for there is no want to them who fear Him. The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; but they who seek the LORD shall not want any good thing.

Come children, hearken to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. What man is he who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking guile. Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry. The face of the LORD is against them who do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. The righteous cry and the LORD hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles.

The LORD is near to those who are of a broken heart; and saves those who have a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers them out of them all. He keeps all his bones, not one of them is broken.

Evil shall slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous shall be desolate. The LORD redeems the soul of His servants, and none of those who trust in Him shall be desolate.”

Take care!

 

Thank You To Our Westminster Staff

April 15, 2020

Thank You To Our Westminster StaffWe are so thankful for all that you are doing to care for the residents, at this challenging time. At communities all around the state, groups of residents and managers are organizing to say thanks to our employees.

Here are just a few of the ways:

The Mercy Fund, part of the Westminster Retirement Communities Foundation, has already raised more than $21,000 to support team members who are unable to work due to the impacts of the coronavirus.

At Westminster Palms and Westminster Manor, communities distributed “thank you” bags with candy and other goodies to all employees.

At Westminster Winter Park and Westminster Point Pleasant, employees enjoyed a special breakfast and lunch to recognize all of their hard work.

We’re putting up banners, ads on social media and in the local newspaper to say “thank you.”

Your commitment and dedication to the Mission is truly inspiring. It brings to mind the words of St. Matthew: “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

 

Be Alert to COVID-19 Scams

April 14, 2020

Be Alert to COVID-19 Scams

Unfortunately, we know that in times of challenge there are always people who prey on others. Today’s disaster is a pandemic, but we see the same scams when there are hurricanes or around tax filing deadlines. Many people are fearful or scared, but it’s this fear that makes us vulnerable.

Recently the Federal Trade Commission has warned Americans to beware of the potential scams that are proliferating. Here are some simple steps you can take that can help keep you safer: 

  • Hang up on robocalls from a caller you don’t recognize. Most robo-calls are illegal, but scammers are using them anyway to pitch fraudulent COVID-19 treatments and other schemes.
  • When you get a robocall, don’t dial any number, even if the recording asks you to. When you “press a number to be removed from our list,” these scammers will probably just call you more.
  • Ignore any offers you see online for COVID-19 vaccines or at-home test kits. No such thing exists for sale today.
  • Disregard any texts or emails you receive about cash from the government. Stimulus checks will be coming directly from the Internal Revenue Service, beginning in mid-April. In fact, if your refund or payment for the 2018 or 2019 tax years was done via direct deposit, the IRS will deposit the money directly in your bank account. The Federal Trade Commission says that anyone who tells you they can get you the money now is a scammer.
  • Delete any emails that claim to be from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) or from experts who claim they have information about the virus. For the most up-to-date information, visit the Web site of the CDC (www.cdc.gov).
  • Be alert to the risk of malware and phishing scams. A legitimate company will never ask you to verify passwords or usernames via email.
  • Keep an eye out for misspellings or grammatical mistakes. That’s a sure sign that the official-looking email originated from a suspicious source.
  • Pay attention to a warning if your email client on your computer, phone or tablet tells you an email is suspicious. A lot of email clients can detect likely phishing or other suspicious emails. Pay attention!

The latest warning from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) says:

Fraudsters often use the latest news developments to lure investors into scams. We have become aware of a number of Internet promotions claiming that the products or services of publicly traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure coronavirus, and that the stock of these companies will dramatically increase in value as a result.

Please be alert to avoid any scams, and remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

 

A Letter to All Residents from COO Garry Hennis

April 14, 2020

We are living through a very challenging time. Today, Chief Operating Officer Garry Hennis wrote a letter to our residents thanking them for their support and for looking out for each other. "We are commanded to love thy neighbor as we love ourselves, and never before have we seen this so clearly," Hennis writes. "On behalf of the entire senior leadership team, thank you very much. Keep doing what you're doing!"

Read the full letter to all residents

 

Join Us In A Shared Prayer Today at 2 p.m.

April 14, 2020

Join Us In A Shared Day of PrayerWe are continuing to pray for the health of all of Westminster, and the world. As we move forward in this journey together, we are reminded that in the face of uncertainty, we must join together in our efforts and put our faith in God. He will help us to rise. We must look for the power of faith, hope, and love through all of this. Join us Today, April 14, at 2 p.m., in this week's shared prayer, which was written and will be led by the Rev. Steve Cross, Chaplain at Westminster Suncoast.

Download the prayer now

 

Join Us In A Shared, Interfaith Prayer Tuesday at 2 p.m.

April 7, 2020

Join Us In A Shared Prayer on Tuesdays

We are continuing to pray for the health of all of Westminster, and the world. This week is filled with major religious holidays. The first night of the Jewish holiday of Passover begins at sundown tomorrow, and Holy Week began on Palm Sunday. To respect our residents and employees of every faith, for this week's shared prayer, we asked Rabbi Sanford Olshansky, a rabbi at Congregation Bet Chaim in Oviedo and adjunct professor of Judaic Studies at the University of Central Florida, to provide an interfaith prayer for our residents, staff and all healthcare workers. Join us today at 2 p.m. in common prayer.

Download the prayer now

 

We’re “Going Green” with New Reusable Containers for In-Home Dining Delivery

April 6, 2020

Going Green with New Reusable Containers for In-Home Dining Delivery

Each year in April, when Earth Day rolls around, we think of the impact we have on our environment and how we can reduce, reuse or recycle. That’s part of Westminster Communities of Florida’s “Going Green” program, encouraging our communities to be more eco-friendly all the time.

Starting this week, we’re pleased to announce that our new in-home dining program will be switching to reusable, washable containers. Residents at our communities will continue to receive their dining deliveries of refrigerated, reheatable, nutritious meals. These new containers will be returned to us and cleaned for reuse.

“Going from the disposable containers to reusable was a clear win for us,” said Mario DeLuca, Director of Resident Experience. “It’s just another way we’re looking to be greener.”

Residents have responded enthusiastically, according to Cary Letsche, a resident at Westminster Point Pleasant in Bradenton. “The to-go meals are easily heated in a microwave for a delicious hot lunch or dinner, and the washed containers are returned the next day to be rewashed and sanitized for the next use,” said Letsche. “What could have been a difficult period for our residents has been made much more enjoyable through the efforts of our Dining Services team.”

The containers are being purchased for the residents of Westminster Communities of Florida by our in-house pharmacy, Westminster Pharmacy Services, for all residents to enjoy. Dominick DeSarro, Vice President of Pharmacy Services, said that supplying the containers is one way the pharmacy can support residents in our communities. “We are pleased to provide residents with these new reusable containers, as a gesture of our love and care for them,” said DeSarro.

We rolled out the in-home dining program on March 20, and great reviews have been coming in from residents ever since. We’re offering a special menu comprised of entrées that will chill and reheat well, from some of the favorite dishes off our regular seasonal menu. For each meal, residents receive an entrée, a vegetable side, a starch side, a salad and a dessert. This special program helps minimize the risk to residents by bringing delicious and nutritious meals to them in their own home, and respects social distancing, as ordered by the state of Florida.

To learn more about how living at a Westminster community can provide assurance at this time, contact us today.

 

Connecting Kids and Residents: Download Our Kids' Activity Pack Today for Fun Activities

April 3, 2020

Download Our Kids Activity Pack

For those with kids who are home from school due to the spread of the new coronavirus (COVID-19), finding activities to help them keep engaged is hard. At Westminster Communities of Florida, meanwhile, residents are self-isolating and a personal touch can go a long way to brightening someone’s day.

How can we put the two together?

The answer is our new Kids Activity Pack, a downloadable nine-page pack of fun activities for kids to enjoy. They include games and activities, but also a template for writing letters, thank you cards and drawings to send to residents at Westminster Communities of Florida.

Fun for all ages, the Kids Activity Pack has a maze, coloring exercises, Sudoku, tic-tac-toe and more. We’re providing a copy to our employees with kids to take home, but we encourage anyone looking for fun ways to spend time with the family to download it.

Chris Ware, Creative Design Coordinator, created the Kids Activity Pack while working from home this week. He was inspired by the idea and, as a parent, wanted to help his own kids understand the Mission of Westminster. “One of my motivations was to explain to kids what we do in senior living,” Ware said. “I saw this as an opportunity to inform them about our field. I don’t think one piece can do that on its own, but it’s something I’d be interested in cultivating more.”

You may send your letters to residents in our communities by addressing them to the Director of Volunteers at the community nearest you.

We’re going to publish updated activity packs in the future, with more fun and enriching activities for older adults.

Download your Kids Activity Pack now!

 

Join Us In A Shared Prayer Today at 2 p.m.

March 31, 2020

We are continuing to pray for the health of all of Westminster, and the world. Today, Tuesday, March 31, at 2 p.m., join us in our shared day of prayer, where residents and staff in every Westminster community around the state will come together to pray. This week's shared prayer was written and will be led by the Rev. Brenda Loyal, Ph.D., Chaplain at Westminster Towers.

Download the prayer now

 

All the Essentials Without Leaving Home: Pop-Up Groceries at Westminster Communities Provide Staples Amid Uncertainty

March 30, 2020

New Pop-Up Grocery Stores At Our Communities Offer Residents A Safer Shopping Experience

For older adults throughout the country, as we watch the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), a simple trip to the grocery store can induce anxiety. But at Westminster Communities of Florida, residents have lots of ways to make sure they get nutritious food and basic staples.

One way is our new dining delivery program, providing refrigerated, reheatable, nutritious and tasty meals delivered to residents’ doorstep. But sometimes, a person needs a loaf of bread, a gallon of milk or a roll of toilet paper — the most basic grocery needs. For those essential items, we’re opening up new “pop-up” grocery stores for residents to shop.

These pop-up groceries are conveniently located in the community and limited to one resident at a time for safety. Groceries can be paid for using either credit card or charged to their monthly bill via key fob.

We’re offering a selection of certain basic goods in these stores: Bread, milk, eggs, cereal, coffee — and perhaps most importantly, toilet paper. All the items are from a standard basket of items that we know can be kept in stock, at a time when grocery stores are struggling with inventory.

“With a pop-up grocery in their community, residents can continue practicing social isolation and shop safely,” said Mario DeLuca, Director of Resident Experience for Westminster Communities of Florida. “We just opened the first stores on Thursday and Friday, and we’re already seeing a fantastic response from the residents.”

Candy Porter, a resident at Westminster Suncoast, said that the pop-up stores are providing residents like her with more security. “Last week, as I left at 7 a.m. to grocery shop, I felt like I was making a special ops foray into enemy territory,” she said. “But the pop-up grocery stores at each community, offer staples for purchase at more than reasonable prices. The efforts Westminster has made to keep its residents safe, secure, and well-stocked go wildly beyond our expectations.”

These pop-up stores are located in common areas that are no longer in use for group activities throughout the communities, and are tied into our common Point of Sale system. A simple trip around the corner in a golf cart or down the elevator is enough to provide for essentials.

Thanks to our food-purchasing partners, U.S. Foods, for working with us to identify staple grocery items that we can keep in stock reliably and offered at reasonable price.

As our communities find out what we can keep in stock and what people want, our organization plans to adjust what we’re offering. We also plan to offer this service to our team members in the future, knowing that it’s important for them to feel  safe when they bring home food and essentials for their families.

 

Westminster Towers Flashes Lights to Support Central Florida's Healthcare Workers

March 27, 2020

Residents at Westminster Towers are so thankful for the medical professionals all throughout Orlando who are working hard to keep all of Central Florida safe. To show their gratitude, at 9 p.m. tonight the entire community joined in flashing all of their lights on and off. The south side of Westminster Towers faces Orlando Regional Medical Center, and the north side faces downtown Orlando.

We hope you enjoy the video!

 

Self-Isolation? We’re Practicing Self-Immersion with Virtual Experiences Through Our My W Life App

March 26, 2020

Take A Tour Around The World, Virtually

Today more than 100 million Americans are under some type of “stay at home” order, but residents at Westminster Communities of Florida are touring the Musée d’Orsay in Paris and the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta — without leaving the comfort of their own homes!

We’re proud to help residents find new ways to continue to enjoy life-enriching and intellectually stimulating opportunities, even at this challenging time of coronavirus-related disruption. It’s all part of our My W Life program for whole-person wellbeing of body, mind and soul. Read more about My W Life today.

This week we’re rolling out exciting new “Virtual Experiences,” through the exclusive My W Life app. In the app or on www.MyWLife.org, we’re offering residents a variety of enriching experiences to enjoy using their phone, tablet or computer. This is all thanks to online resources like Google’s Arts & Culture project and cultural institutions all around the world. We’re curating the most interesting and high-quality resources, selected by our expert Resident Experience staff in communities throughout the state.

“It’s hard practicing social isolation for long periods of time, so with all community lifestyle events discontinued, we had to come up with something else just as great,” said Mario DeLuca, Director of Resident Experience for Westminster Communities of Florida. “These virtual tours are just amazing!”

Residents at all of our Continuing Care Retirement Communities have access to the My W Life app. When they log in and tap the “Virtual Experiences” icon, they’re presented with choices ranging from tours of London and New York City, to enriching virtual tours of museums, and animal cams from aquariums and zoos.

“I think the Virtual Experiences icon is a fabulous idea!” said Delle Muller, a resident at Westminster Winter Park. Muller said that she has already started exploring the world through My W Life’s Virtual Experiences. “Besides being informative and amusing, it is very calming. Just what we need at a time like this!”

DeLuca said, that the goal is to continue to offer an exclusive and exciting lifestyle, even amid the disruption. “We’re continuing to find new resources to add to the Virtual Experiences in My W Life. Plus, our Resident Experience teams in the local communities are working hard to come up with other interactive ways for residents to have fun and socialize, too.”

To learn more about how you can enjoy this exciting program by becoming a resident at a Westminster community, contact us now or call (800) 948-1881 today.

 

With A National Protective Equipment Shortage Looming, Residents and Volunteers Turn to Homemade Masks to Protect Team Members

March 25, 2020

Thank You to Our Guardian Angels: Residents, Volunteers and Employees Donating Homemade Masks

We find ourselves in uncharted waters, as we watch the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) throughout the world. Our communities have taken a variety of preventive and precautionary measures, in the interest of the health and safety of all residents. At the same time, Westminster Communities of Florida isn’t alone in a struggle to obtain personal protective equipment like masks and gloves, to ensure the safety of team members and residents.

But we have a few guardian angels looking out for us. Our communities have been given hundreds of handmade, cloth masks for our team members and residents to use. These amazing donations have come from all around the state, from residents, church groups, team members’ families, and more, and they may truly save lives.

“I saw a piece on Facebook, from a hospital in Oklahoma that was asking for donations, and I thought, ‘I can do that! I have a sewing machine and now I have plenty of time,’ ” said Lynn Jensen, a resident at Jefferson Center. Jensen first made a mask for herself, but now she’s expanding her production. “The first ones were brightly colored, coastal, Sarasota fabric I had, but now I’m making them to fit people’s personalities,” she added.

Jensen said that making protective masks is a way of helping all of the other residents. “We are a community here, and there are people who can’t make them and can’t get them. Plus it feels good to do it, you know?”

Just up the Gulf Coast in Bradenton, the pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Bobbi Blackburn, was having a similar conversation with a quilting group. One member of Trinity Lutheran is Susan Shoffstall, Health Services Administrator at Westminster Suncoast in St. Petersburg. Shoffstall mentioned her community’s challenge in obtaining protective equipment, and Blackburn reached out to the church’s quilting group. Within a day, the church had provided 165 masks! “I thanked them all, from a safe distance, and let them know what an incredible gift they were giving us. It was very hard to put into words how overwhelmingly wonderful this was.”

Other groups of residents, team members and volunteers working together have popped up all over the state. Westminster Manor Director of Nursing Jamie Sullivan and her family made 30 masks over the weekend, with brightly colored fabrics and using a pattern she found online. Meanwhile, at Westminster Winter Park, Health Resource Nurse Wendy Levitt Gashlin asked her son’s family to help. In Tallahassee, Westminster Oaks resident Patricia Applegate, an experienced seamstress with years of theatrical costume production, is experimenting with three patterns to see what suits residents best, and has already made more than 25 masks. “I can do anywhere between 10 and 20 masks a day, once we find the right pattern,” Applegate said.

We have so many more people to thank, who are already working to help — residents, volunteers and team members. How blessed we are for their dedication!

Please join us in praying for the continued health and safety of all of our staff and residents, and the whole world. To learn more about the preventive and precautionary measures we’ve taken, and the latest news from Westminster Communities of Florida, visit our coronavirus (COVID-19) news page.

 

Join Us in Shared Prayer on Tuesdays, Starting March 24

March 23, 2020

Join Us In A Shared Prayer on Tuesdays

We are continuing to pray for the health of all of Westminster, and the world. Beginning on Tuesday, March 24, we will begin a new shared day of prayer, where residents and staff in every Westminster community around the state will come together to pray. Join us Tuesday, March 24, at 2 p.m., in this week's shared prayer. It was written and will be led by the Rev. Jan Banker, Chaplain at Westminster Shores.

Download the copy of this week's prayer.

 

COVID-19: A Letter to All Residents from CEO Roger Stevens

March 23, 2020

Throughout the world, we find ourselves in an unprecedented situation with the global spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). We continue to take important preventive and precautionary measures, and receive guidance from state and federal regulatory agencies. Westminster Communities of Florida is complying with this guidance, which is in the interest of the health and safety of all residents and staff.

Today we are publishing a letter from our CEO, Roger Stevens, to all residents, making them aware of the current status and how they can help each other and our staff stay well.

Letter from CEO Roger Stevens to Residents

 

COVID-19: A Letter of Thanks to Residents and Staff from CEO Roger Stevens

March 16, 2020

Westminster Communities of Florida is thankful to our staff and our residents and their family members for their concern and support, during this unprecedented time. Today we share a letter of thanks from our CEO, Roger Stevens. Click here to read the full letter, or see the full letter below:

March 16, 2020

Re: COVID-19

Dear Residents, Family Members and Staff,

First, we want to acknowledge and thank each of you for the concern and support you are showing for each other during this unprecedented time in recent history. Clearly, the vast majority of you are actively cooperating with federal and state healthcare directives and advice. Westminster’s response to this crisis has been immediate, strong, and focused on your health and wellbeing. Our goal is to keep you from getting sick.

We appreciate that employees are taking personal responsibility for self-screening prior to coming to work, and holding each other accountable for reporting to work healthy and risk-free. Westminster is actively supporting our staff in this effort.

We are grateful that residents and family members have been willing to change lifestyles and plans for the benefit of all, such as cancelling trips and group events, and forgoing visits to family and friends in assisted living and our health centers. While it is unrealistic to think that we would all agree that all these measures are necessary, you have been willing to flex and cooperate, and for that, we give thanks.

We commit to you to do our very best to keep our communities healthy through this crisis. In this spirit, we will follow the safety directives of the CDC and Department of Health. If you have comments or suggestions, we encourage you to bring them to your community management as quickly as possible.

Sincerely,

Roger A. Stevens, CEO

Roger A. Stevens, CEO

 

We Congratulate Our 2019 Employees and Volunteers of the Year

March 4, 2020

We Congratulate Our Volunteers and Employees of the Year

WEDNESDAY, March 3, 2020 – Westminster Communities of Florida is pleased to recognize its exemplary Employees of the Year and Volunteers of the Year for 2019.

The Creating Legends Program was developed to help managers "catch our employees in the act" of providing Legendary Service to our residents, their family members, and co-workers. In 2019, there were more than 700 employees caught in the act of providing Legendary Service. We also had the help of more than 2,200 volunteers, serving approximately 275,000 hours, which is equivalent to the work of 132 full-time employees. Each recipient will receive a plaque of appreciation presented by CEO Roger Stevens.

We are thankful and privileged to have so many wonderful employees and volunteers who consistently "stretch" to serve our residents and benefit the community. Each of our Employees of the Year and Volunteers of the Year express the heart behind our Mission. We are delighted to shine the spotlight on these exceptional people.

Read the stories of our incredible Volunteers of the Year and Employees of the Year in the slideshares below.

 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

March 2, 2020

We are actively monitoring the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and taking a variety of preventive, precautionary steps to ensure the safety of our communities. The health and wellbeing of our residents and employees is our top priority. To get the most current information, visit our Coronavirus (COVID-19) News page.

 

Celebrate Your Life With Us All Throughout 2020

February 20, 2020

Celebrating Your Life 2020

All year, we’re making our exciting and active lifestyle more interesting with our fun calendar of themed events, called “Celebrating Your Life.” These themed events celebrate active living and stimulate wellbeing of body, mind and soul. Within each month’s theme are a variety of interesting events, from food tastings to road trips, and community celebrations of every size. Each month, we score ourselves — and name a winner!

Read more about our Celebrating Your Life calendar for 2020.

Celebrating Your Life: Images fron January 2020

January: New Beginnings

We rang in the new year with lots of fun New Year’s-themed events, plus a variety of innovative twists on the meaning of the word “beginnings.” At Westminster Point Pleasant, we saw a community baby shower for at-risk moms, whereas Westminster Shores’ fitness team designed new wellness exercises, and a dinner featuring dishes from “New” states and regions, like New England clam chowder and New Orleans beignets, brightened a few palates at Westminster Woods on Julington Creek.

Please congratulate January’s winners:

  • First Place: Westminster Palms and Westminster Shores (tie)
  • Second Place: Westminster Woods on Julington Creek
  • Third Place: Westminster St. Augustine

Be sure to Like us on Facebook and follow along for all of our fun!

 

'A Celebration of Active Living': More than 300 Older Adults Enjoy Games and Competition at 6th Annual Westminster Games

January 31, 2020

The Sixth Annual Westminster Games

Residents from Westminster Communities of Florida’s 10 active senior living communities enjoyed outdoor festivities, games and fitness opportunities at Eckerd College

ST. PETERSBURG, January 31, 2020 – With outdoor lawn games, live music, dancing and a tai chi exercise, the Sixth Annual Westminster Games kicked off on Friday on the campus of Eckerd College. More than 300 residents and employees from Westminster Communities of Florida’s communities around the state, from the Tampa Bay area, Central Florida and North Florida, came to enjoy a competition of outdoor lawn games and tai chi. At the end of the day, their objective was to have fun in the great outdoors!

The Westminster Games showcase Westminster Communities of Florida’s active lifestyle, featuring their exclusive My W Life program for wellbeing of body, mind and soul. Residents enjoyed a fun and active experience today with the support of Eckerd College students and faculty, plus live music and dancing. Eckerd College students helped to put on the games and tabulate the scores, for inter-generational opportunities to learn more about seniors and their interests.

Attendees competed as teams by community in a variety of games to celebrate active living and wellbeing for seniors. The games included horseshoes, ring toss, corn hole and more.

Garry Hennis, Westminster Communities of Florida Chief Operating Officer, celebrated the day’s intent. “It is amazing to think that this is our sixth year! The Westminster Games highlight the difference that our residents and staff make in celebrating the active lifestyle,” Hennis said. “It’s so great to be here today.”

Eckerd College student body President Bailey Cross offered a warm welcome to attendees on behalf of Eckerd, and described her own experiences working with Westminster Shores. “Last year, during our winter term, I had the privilege of studying aging patterns in Sardinia. Before we left, we visited Westminster Shores and got a lot of feedback and had amazing conversations about what it’s like to grow up,” Cross said. “Thank you for being here today and for your continued partnership with Eckerd College!”

After a prayer led by Eckerd College chaplain Doug McMahon, the games kicked off. Several hundred residents competed in teams to see which community would come away with the prize of first place.

This year’s winning team was Westminster Shores in St. Petersburg, followed by Westminster Winter Park in second place and Westminster Towers in third place. “Congratulations to all the winners!” said Jim Polaski, Regional Vice President of Operations.

Congratulations to Westminster Shores and all the residents of Westminster Communities of Florida, for joining us in celebrating active living.

 

We Celebrated Your Life All Year Long in 2019, with Special Resident Experience Events

January 21, 2020

All throughout 2019, Westminster Communities of Florida residents celebrated each month with exciting themed activities and events, as part of our Celebrating Your Life program. This monthly calendar of various themed activities and events was designed to appeal to our MyWLife wellbeing program’s Eight Dimensions of Wellbeing: physical, nutritional, community, lifelong learning, spiritual, emotional, vocational, and social. Around the state, we’re working hard to facilitate these festive celebrations all year long.

We’re excited to announce that, for the entire year, we announced an overall winner. Please congratulate Westminster Shores for coming in #1 in 2019’s Celebrating Your Life program!

Learn about all the fun we had last year:

December – Celebrating The Holidays

How do you celebrate Christmas and New Year’s? We discovered a whole world of celebration, plus a celebration of “Physical Fit”mas, annual choral and musical performances, holiday scavenger hunts and decorating contests — and more than a few New Year’s Eve parties, too. Happy New Year!

1st Place – Tie with Westminster Manor, Westminster Woods on Julington Creek, Westminster Shores, Westminster Palms and Westminster Towers

2nd Place – Westminster Point Pleasant

3rd Place – Westminster Oaks

November – Celebrating Gratitude

Each Thanksgiving, many of us enjoy gathering with our family and friends and sharing what we’re grateful for this year. With “Celebrating Gratitude,” we shared a variety of celebrations, from thanking local police and first responders, and sharing friendship with each other, to packing shoeboxes and sending greeting cards to the men and women of the U.S. armed forces serving abroad. What are you thankful for this year?

1st Place – Tie with Westminster Shores, Westminster Palms and Westminster St. Augustine

2nd Place – Westminster Manor

3rd Place – Westminster Woods on Julington Creek

Photos Celebrating Gratitude at our communities in November.

October – Celebrating The Arts

The residents and staff in our communities are amazingly artistic. All throughout the month, we celebrated every kind of art: We made kites, baked pies, enjoyed theatrical and choral performances, and so much more.

1st Place – Westminster Shores

2nd Place – Tie with Westminster Palms and Westminster Towers

3rd Place – Tie with Westminster St. Augustine, Westminster Woods on Julington Creek and Westminster Oaks

Photos showcasing The Arts at our communities in October.

September – Celebrate Active Aging

Aging is a part of life, but this month, we celebrated being active and having a great time! We treated ourselves to healthy dining choices, physical wellbeing events, meditation classes, and an astronomy night. Being happy never gets old at a Westminster community!

1st Place – Tied for Westminster Palms, Westminster Shores and Westminster Towers

2nd Place – Westminster Oaks

3rd Place – Westminster Manor

Photos celebrating Active Aging at our communities in September.

August – Celebrate The World Around You

In August, we celebrated “The World Around You” all month long. Our residents and team members enjoyed events ranging from dinners featuring international cuisine and presentations by world traveling residents, to musical events and even nature and birding trips.

Congratulations to our August winners:

1st Place – Westminster Shores

2nd Place – Westminster Palms

3rd Place – Westminster Towers

Photos showcasing The World Around You at our communities in August.

July - Celebrate Patriotism

"Celebrate Patriotism" was the theme for the month of July. Throughout the month resident and team members enjoyed many patriotic events: Fourth of July fireworks, red, white and blue yoga, virtual America, a historical happy hour and much more. 

Congratulations to our July winners!

1st place – Westminster Palms

2nd place – Westminster Shores

3rd place – Westminster Woods on Julington Creek

June - Bucket List Trip 

What's on your bucket list? Throughout the month of June, we celebrated "Bucket List" items. We conquered some fears and went rock climbing, listened to a live mariachi band, tried some exotic foods, like fried frog legs, cricket-based protein chips and much more. 

Congratulations to our June winners!

1st place – Westminster Shores

2nd place – Westminster Palms

3rd place – Westminster Point Pleaseant 

May – Spring, When Life Blooms 

We continue to celebrate each month with a unique theme. In May, we celebrated “Spring, When Life Blooms,” Westminster Shores, took the first-place prize for the second time this year.

Residents and team members participated in many spring-themed events: Planting Key lime trees, spring fashion shows, a Mother’s Day tea, a musical, and much more.

1st place – Westminster Shores

2nd place – Westminster Woods on Julington Creek

3rd place – Westminster Oaks

April - Celebrate Local Community

“Celebrate Local Community” was the theme for the month of April. Throughout the month, residents and team members enjoyed many activities around their local communities — city and farm tours, local scavenger hunts, exercising around the community and many other community involvement events.

Congratulations to our April winners!

1st place - Westminster Palms

2nd place - Westminster Shores

3rd place - Westminster Manor

March - Healthy Habits

To continue promoting a healthy lifestyle for our residents and team members, the theme for March was all about “Healthy Habits,” encouraging everyone to find a healthy habit they can enjoy.

Throughout the month, residents and team members engaged in many events ­— morning walks, volleyball, learning to create healthy meals, gardening and many other healthy habits.

Congratulations to our March winners!

1st place – Westminster Shores

2nd place – Westminster Palms

3rd place – Westminster Woods on Julington Creek

 

February – Love Your Neighbor

February’s celebrated theme was “Love Your Neighbor.” Residents and team members enjoyed physical outings around the neighborhood, volunteered at local organizations, had gatherings to meet their neighbors and explored new places with their neighborhood friends.

Congratulations to our top three February winners for celebrating Love Your Neighbor with wonderful experiences for our residents:

1st place – Westminster Palms

2nd place – Westminster Shores

3rd place – Westminster Manor

 

January – New Beginnings

January’s theme celebrated “New Beginnings” as communities across the state planned New Year’s celebrations, learned new traditions, and discussed resolutions.

Residents participated in new fitness challenges. Some of the new exercises included a Fitness Train, golf, chair yoga, pole walking and many more. We also learned about nutritional foods and danced to new tunes from many local performers.

 

This National Pharmacist Day, We Thank Our Team Members

January 12, 2020

Celebrating National Pharmacist Day

Today is National Pharmacist Day! Each year, we say thanks to the dedicated pharmacists who serve our residents. Their work requires a commitment to precision, as well as a desire to serve — they play a critically important role in providing care, helping older adults stay healthy. Westminster Pharmacy Services provides pharmacy support for the residents of Westminster Communities of Florida, as well as several other communities in Florida.

To thank them for their service, Dominick DeSarro, Vice President of Pharmacy Services, wrote an open letter to his staff, thanking them for their dedication to their profession. Read the letter now.

We asked the Westminster Pharmacy Services team to take a step into the spotlight and share their stories. Some of our team responded simply that the most important part of working as a pharmacist was having a desire to take care of people — and that “Westminster’s commitment to our residents and our values as an organization” are why they choose to serve our residents.

Why should you choose to work as a pharmacist, this National Pharmacist Day? “You will gain a family and support system that cares about your success,” another said.

Meet some of our superhero pharmacists – and be sure to thank your neighborhood pharmacist today!

Dr. Teri West, Consultant Pharmacist

Q: How long have you been at Westminster?

I have been here since July 2015.

Q: Why did you decide to work as a pharmacist?

To be an advocate for older adults trying to navigate complex medication regimens and help them avoid dangerous side effects.

Q: What brought you to Westminster?

It was the opportunity to impact more older adults.

Q: What do you like best about serving WCOF employees and residents?

I get to help hundreds of grandparents, even though mine are no longer with me, except in in spirit.

Q: This National Pharmacist Day, what’s the top reason you would recommend a career in pharmacy?

You should consider a career in pharmacy to become a support person and a solution for other caregivers and nurses every day, who share our calling to serve older adults.

Q: What’s one fun fact that your co-workers don’t know about you?

I love the game of pinochle! I used to go to the senior center with my grandma and play with her friends.

Dr. Chris Marian, Pharmacist In Charge, Bradenton

Q: How long have you been at Westminster?

Three years.

Q: Why did you decide to work as a pharmacist?

I became interested in it when I was helping my grandmother with her medications, growing up.

Q: What brought you to Westminster?

This has been a very unique opportunity to help residents over multiple levels of care, and the ability to develop closer relationships with the residents.

Q: What do you like best about serving WCOF employees and residents?

The opportunity to get to know them better and provide them with more personalized care, while serving them from down the hall or elevator from their apartment buildings.

Q: This National Pharmacist Day, what’s the top reason you would recommend a career in pharmacy?

You get the satisfaction of helping others by making their medication process more convenient, guiding them toward better health, and saving them money.

Q: What’s one fun fact that your co-workers don’t know about you?

I can speak three languages: English, Greek and Spanish.

Dr. Courtney Schmidt, Consultant Pharmacist and Staff Pharmacist

Q: How long have you been at Westminster?

I have been here one and a half years.

Q: Why did you decide to work as a pharmacist?

I enjoy taking care of people and I like a challenge.

Q: What brought you to Westminster?

A friend recommended Westminster to me.

Q: What do you like best about serving WCOF employees and residents?

I like getting to know our residents and knowing that I’m able to help them.

Q: This National Pharmacist Day, what’s the top reason you would recommend a career in pharmacy?

I recommend it because you have the ability to help others who are in need.

Q: What’s one fun fact that your co-workers don’t know about you?

Previously I have lived in Africa.

Dr. Lance Fontenot, Staff Pharmacist

Q: How long have you been at Westminster?

Sixteen years.

Q: Why did you decide to work as a pharmacist?

I wanted to help heal people.

Q: What brought you to Westminster?

It was a change of scenery.

Q: What do you like best about serving WCOF employees and residents?

I like having the ability to help heal sick people and bring them back to health through our services.

Q: This National Pharmacist Day, what’s the top reason you would recommend a career in pharmacy?

Today, we’ll get free doughnuts!

Q: What’s one fun fact that your co-workers don’t know about you?

I can speak Spanish, too.

 

Westminster Is "Celebrating Your Life" for 2020 with Exclusive Resident Lifestyle Events

January 8, 2020

We're so excited that we can start the new year at our communities by kicking off our "Celebrating Your Life," an annual calendar of monthly lifestyle events which strives to enhance the resident experience at every community. We already know that the exciting and active lifestyle our residents enjoy is great, but we're making it better with a focus on fun and engaging thematic events. It's another way that a Westminster community is more than just a place to live — it's a way of life.

Our goal is to ensure that we bring out every dimension of our exclusive MyWLife program for wellbeing of body, mind and soul, involving every department and all of the residents. This fun and engaging theme helps us capture the true celebration of life.

Last year, we enjoyed embracing the many wonderful memories of our residents and the importance of living life in the moment. This year, for "Celebrating Your Life," our communities will be celebrating:

  • January: New Beginnings
  • February: Express Love
  • March: Women and Men in History
  • April: Going Green
  • May: Taking Care of Yourself
  • June: Summer School
  • July: Patriotism
  • August: Technology
  • September: Humor
  • October: World Showcase
  • November: Thanksgiving
  • December: Holidays

Each month's program will cover MyWLife's Eight Dimensions of Wellbeing — Physical, Spiritual, Emotional, Nutritional, Social, Community, Lifelong Learning and Vocational — and will involve residents and employees in the celebration.

To make things a little more interesting we're going to be scoring ourselves each month on who did the best job — and an overall winner for 2020. We'll be announcing 2019's overall winner soon, and we can't wait to see how this year's celebrations turn out.

Join us all year to follow along with "Celebrating Your Life"!

 

Try One of Our Signature Cookie Recipes This Holiday Season

December 18, 2019

Celebrate Bake Cookies Day with One of Our Signature Recipes

Today is Bake Cookies Day! We love these little circles of flour, sugar and joy. This year, in celebration, we’re inviting you to make your holiday cookie plates a little more festive with Westminster Communities of Florida's signature cookie recipes: Chocolate, peanut butter and oatmeal raisin. Cook along with us — make just one recipe, or make the whole bunch! Download the recipes below and enjoy. We can't wait to hear what you enjoy.

Chocolate chip cookies on a baking sheet.

Signature Chocolate Chip Cookies (Recipe)


Oatmeal raisin cookies on a baking sheet.

Signature Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (Recipe)


Peanut butter cookies on a baking sheet.

Signature Peanut Butter Cookies (Recipe)


Dining isn’t just part of residents’ lifestyle at a Westminster community. It’s an integral component of our My W Life program for wellbeing of body, mind and soul! Our dedicated dining team members work hard to put delicious and nutritious cuisine on your table for breakfast, lunch and dinner, every day. We want you to enjoy how delectable dining can be.

Whether you make one recipe or all three, we hope you enjoy your taste of our signature cookies this year!

 

Hanukkah Sameach! Residents in Central Florida Celebrate the Festival of Lights with Jewish Pavilion

December 10, 2019

Westminster Towers and Westminster Park Celebrated Hanukkah with the Jewish Pavilion

ORLANDO – This week, residents at Westminster Towers and Westminster Winter Park celebrated the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah with a special program featuring festive Hanukkah foods, games and a telling of the Hanukkah story.

The celebrations were hosted by the Jewish Pavilion, a faith-based organization with the mission of bringing Jewish holidays and celebration to older adults in retirement communities throughout Central Florida.

The Hanukkah celebrations at Westminster Winter Park and Westminster Towers helped Jewish residents in their communities connect with the traditional celebrations. Residents of different faiths at each community enjoyed games and the traditional meal of latkes, fried potato pancakes, as they celebrated and learned about the miracle of Hanukkah. 

Hanukkah, often called the Jewish Festival of Lights, is a holiday that commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Today the holiday is celebrated with gifts, a game played with a spinning top called a dreidel, and festive foods like latkes and jelly-filled doughnuts.

Hope McCormack, Jewish Pavilion Program Director for Downtown Orlando, led the residents at Westminster Towers in singing prayers and songs, and explained how the game of dreidel is played. McCormack also played trivia: “Does anyone know why the dreidel is so important to Hanukkah? When ancient Israel was occupied, studying the Torah was forbidden. The students would use the dreidel to continue studying.”

At Westminster Winter Park, Susan Bernstein, Jewish Pavilion Program Director for North Orlando, told the story of the military victory of the ancient Maccabees over the powerful Greek army, and about the miracle of light when the Temple was being purified.

“We were very pleased to host this Hanukkah celebration and to partner with the Jewish Pavilion,” said Rev. Walk Jones, Director of Church Relations for Westminster Communities of Florida. “I could see that the residents enjoyed it! There are many programs at our that inform and educate residents of different faiths about their neighbors and their traditions and beliefs.”

As a faith-based, not-for-profit organization, Westminster Communities of Florida is proud to serve residents representing the Jewish faith and countless others. Our celebrations of the holiday season are all part of our My W Life program for wellbeing of body, mind and spirit.

Thanks to Hope, Susan and the Jewish Pavilion for hosting this wonderful celebration at Westminster Towers and Westminster Winter Park!

 

Cook Along With Us and Celebrate A Westminster Thanksgiving

November 22, 2019

Thanksgiving is a time to share a special holiday meal. We say thanks for our blessings and share our gratitude for our family, friends and loved ones. Then, we feast! This year, we’re inviting you to celebrate a Westminster Thanksgiving by sharing our communities' menu with you. Our excellent chefs created a delicious, well-rounded menu for a whole Thanksgiving feast menu for you to enjoy, from the perfect turkey to soup, salad, side dishes and dessert. Cook along with us — make just one recipe, or make the whole feast! Download the recipes below and enjoy. We can't wait to hear what you enjoy.

The Turkey Centerpiece


Feast On These Side Dishes


Start and End Your Holiday Meal Right


Dining isn’t just part of residents’ lifestyle at a Westminster community. It’s an integral component of our My W Life program for wellbeing of body, mind and soul! Our dedicated dining team members work hard to put delicious and nutritious cuisine on your table for breakfast, lunch and dinner, every day. We want you to enjoy how delectable dining can be.

Whether you make one dish or the whole meal, we hope you enjoy your taste of our Thanksgiving recipes!

 

Riding 2,000 Miles: Westminster Residents Take the Challenge of Pedaling CyberCycle in October

November 15, 2019

Residents Rode 2000 Miles in CyberCycle Challenge

ORLANDO – In October, nearly 150 residents throughout the state put on their cycling gear to ride more than 2,000 miles, collectively, as part of our CyberCycle Challenge.

This celebration of wellbeing featured fun of pedaling on the CyberCycle, a recumbent stationary bike with an “exer-game” virtual reality component. The courses involve riding terrain around the world, including motion controls to simulate hills and turns. Residents at all of Westminster Communities of Florida’s active living communities can enjoy a fulfilling wellbeing program, which includes the CyberCycle and a variety of other fitness equipment, as well as wellness and fitness classes from Aquacize to Zumba.

Congratulations to the Westminster Winter Park team of residents, who had 18 riders on their team, pedaling a total of 64 hours in the month. They won our October challenge! In total, our 149 participants rode 2,063 miles and burned 60,613 calories.

Each team was judged by how many total hours they rode in the challenge, in 15-minute time slots, as well as getting the most participants.

Research shows that for residents, using the CyberCycle isn’t just a benefit to their physical health. As a part of Westminster Communities of Florida’s exclusive My W Life program for wellbeing of body, mind and soul, the CyberCycle program provides physical, intellectual and social benefits.

The challenge’s results showcased communities around the state all competing in this challenge:

  1. Westminster Winter Park, Winter Park
  2. Westminster Manor, Bradenton
  3. Westminster Woods on Julington Creek, Jacksonville
  4. Westminster Oaks, Tallahassee
  5. Westminster Shores, St. Petersburg
  6. Westminster Palms, St. Petersburg
  7. Westminster Suncoast, St. Petersburg
  8. Westminster St. Augustine, St. Augustine
  9. Westminster Towers, Orlando
  10. Westminster Point Pleasant, Bradenton

Please join us in congratulating the Westminster Winter Park team for winning the October challenge!

 

Westminster Woods on Julington Creek Honored With 2019 ICAA NuStep Beacon Award for Excellence in Wellbeing

October 14, 2019

2019 ICAA NuStep Beacon Award Given To Westminster Woods on Julington Creek

JACKSONVILLE, Oct. 14, 2019 – Westminster Woods on Julington Creek was recognized at the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA) annual conference with the 2019 ICAA NuStep Beacon Award for excellence in wellness.

The ICAA NuStep Beacon Awards, given by ICAA and NuStep, LLC, a manufacturer of exercise equipment used in healthcare, senior living and fitness settings, recognized Westminster Woods on Julington Creek among a select group of 25 active senior living communities around the nation for promoting a holistic culture of wellbeing.

Andi Sawl, fitness coordinator at Westminster Woods on Julington Creek, said that her community stands out by putting an emphasis on offering a wide variety of options and emphasizing wellbeing for both residents and employees. “Our community offers something for everyone,” Sawl said. “Because wellness is within our culture, residents have multiple choices on how to spend their time. We not only have different selections for someone who wants to live in a wellbeing-based community, but we also have motivated and dedicated staff members whose mission is to promote the culture of wellness with passion.”

The ICAA NuStep Beacon Award recognizes communities that successfully foster a wellness culture and an environment that supports wellness for all who live and work there. At Westminster Woods on Julington Creek, part of the family of Westminster Communities of Florida, wellness is part of the organization’s My W Life program emphasizing wellbeing of body, mind and soul. The program’s eight dimensions of wellbeing – physical, lifelong learning, nutritional, social, emotional, spiritual, vocational and community – create a harmony for participants, and improve residents’ and employees’ quality of life when they are nurtured and prioritized as a whole.

According to the ICAA, Beacon recipients demonstrate strength in creating resident-staff partnerships to create meaningful opportunities that empower participants to improve their quality of life and weaving wellness into the fabric of their communities.

“I am absolutely delighted that Westminster Woods on Julington Creek has been recognized by the ICAA. We’ve always known that our residents and employees enjoy a robust and fulfilling wellbeing program in My W Life, but this award affirms that we can be among the best,” said Executive Director Amanda Birch. “I am so thrilled that we are receiving this award.”

To learn more about wellbeing and active lifestyles at Westminster Woods on Julington Creek, and how to become a resident or join the team, visit www.WestminsterWoodsFL.org or call (904) 287-7300.

About Westminster Woods on Julington Creek: Westminster Woods on Julington Creek is The Natural Choice for active senior living, ideally located on the shores of Julington Creek, a half-mile-wide tributary of the St. Johns River. Our beautiful, wooded campus of nearly 90 acres combines neighborhoods of detached villas and garden and waterfront apartment homes. We have served senior adults in Jacksonville and St. Johns County for more than 50 years, with an emphasis on exceptional living options, whole-person wellbeing and Lifelong Learning, backed by a financially strong and Mission-inspired, faith-based community.

About NuStep, LLC: NuStep, LLC designs, manufactures and distributes recumbent cross trainer exercise equipment. NuStep products, accessories and adaptive equipment empower users of virtually all functional abilities and fitness levels to engage in exercise that helps build strength, enhance independence and improve health outcomes. From 1998 to 2018, NuStep sponsored the Pinnacle Award to recognize senior communities and senior centers transforming lives through whole-person wellness programming. The award also served as a vehicle to educate and encourage senior organizations to integrate whole-person wellness into their programming.

About the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA): ICAA is a professional association that leads, connects and defines the active-aging industry and supports professionals who aspire to develop wellness cultures for adults over 50. This support includes creating wellness environments, programs and services. The association is focused on active aging-an approach to aging that helps older adults live life as fully as possible within all dimensions of wellness-and provides its members with education, information, resources and tools. As an active-aging educator and advocate, ICAA has advised numerous organizations and governmental bodies, including the US Administration on Aging, the National Institute on Aging (one of the US National Institutes of Health), the US Department of Health and Human Services, Canada's Special Senate Committee on Aging, and the British Columbia (Canada) Ministries of Health and Healthy Living and Sport.

 

Westminster Communities of Florida Family Comes Together During Hurricane Dorian

September 6, 2019

When a hurricane threatens our communities, the Westminster Communities of Florida family comes together to ensure the safety of all residents.

This week, Hurricane Dorian's threat to the East Coast of Florida caused St. Johns County to order an evacuation of Westminster Woods on Julington Creek.

Independent living residents went to Westminster Oaks in Tallahassee, where they dined and spent time as one family. The Oaks residents even had up a sign to greet them: “We have to stop meeting like this!” The residents from Westminster Woods on Julington Creek enjoyed a bus tour of Tallahassee and the fine lifestyle opportunities and hospitality of Westminster Oaks for the holiday week.

Meanwhile, assisted living and Health Center residents went to Westminster St. Augustine and Riverside Presbyterian House, two sister communities in greater Jacksonville, as well as Taylor Residences and Cathedral Care of Jacksonville.

It was thanks to the the hard work and dedication of our staff that the residents from Westminster Woods on Julington Creek were safe and well-cared for throughout the storm.

Sue Gambill, a resident at Westminster Oaks in Tallahassee, captured the spirit when she said, “I admire the staff! They stayed later and all took on extra tasks. The Jacksonville staff have had to evacuate several years now. We residents throughout Florida are so lucky to be part of such an amazing community.”

Chief Operating Officer Garry Hennis said, “Our incredible team members provide care and compassion for our Mission daily. But it is magnified in challenging times, and they truly rose to the occasion.”

We hope you share in our gratitude to our employees. Together, our family is stronger than any storm.

We also ask that you keep the citizens of the Bahamas in your prayers, especially on Grand Bahama and the Abaco Islands. They have suffered far more than they did, and our hearts go out to them.

 

LeadingAge Florida's Lifetime Achievement Award Given to Our CEO, Roger Stevens

July 25, 2019

ORLANDO, July 22, 2019 – On Monday, LeadingAge Florida honored Westminster Communities of Florida’s CEO, Roger Stevens, for his extraordinary career of leadership and service to older adults.

This year’s awards were given at LeadingAge Florida’s 56th Annual Convention, held at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort. The theme of this year’s event was “What If?”

Stevens was recognized for his exceptional dedication to older adults throughout his entire lifetime. In presenting the award, Westminster COO Garry Hennis said that Stevens is “a visionary leader and builder – someone who has made exceptional contributions over the course of a career and has positively impacted and advanced the aging services field.” He added, “Please join me in congratulating Roger!”

After the award was presented to him, Stevens said in his remarks, “What an honor it is to be chosen by you for this award – all of you who contributed to this! It is not always easy to serve, so I want to say thanks to all of our staff for their dedication. And thank you very much for this great honor.”

Stevens has served Westminster Communities of Florida and its residents since 1995, first as chief operating officer, and then as chief executive officer since 2011. He is also the chairman of LeadingAge Florida, the state association representing the industry. He is a Certified Public Accountant and former manager with an international CPA firm working for not-for-profit retirement community and health care clients throughout the Western United States. He is experienced in feasibility studies, new facility development, financing, start-up, turn-around and operations. Stevens has been a speaker at national and regional retirement community and healthcare meetings and conventions, and has been active with LeadingAge and LeadingAge Florida.

Westminster Communities of Florida is proud to have such an exceptional leader contributing to our Mission. It is through his hard work that we are able to serve older adults throughout Florida and make the greater communities we serve stronger at the same time.

Please join us in congratulating Roger Stevens on this award!

LAF 2019 Awards: Roger Stevens from AssociationStudios.com on Vimeo.

About LeadingAge Florida: For 56 years, LeadingAge Florida has served as a nonprofit statewide association of more than 250 mission-driven communities, representing the full continuum of care for seniors with members ranging from affordable housing to nursing homes and from assisted living facilities to continuing care retirement communities. LeadingAge Florida is proud to serve quality leaders who devote themselves to creating a culture of excellence that motivates and inspires others throughout the aging continuum. LeadingAge Florida’s members are trusted with providing quality care and services to Florida’s seniors. LeadingAge Florida promotes practices that support, enable and empower people to live fully as they age.

About Westminster Communities of Florida: Westminster Communities of Florida is a faith-based, not-for-profit organization serving more than 7,000 residents in 22 communities around Florida who are in search of an enlightened, fully integrated, person-centered approach to health and wellness. Since 1954, we’ve been Florida’s best choice in active senior living. Our Mission of service commits us to creating and preserving excellent active living communities and honoring each person’s dignity, rights, self-respect and independence.

 

A Special Letter of Thanks While Our Country Observes National Nurses Week

May 6, 2019

We Celebrate National Nurses Week: A Special Letter from Our COO, Garry Hennis

We're excited to join the Westminster family and our whole country in observing National Nurses Week, a celebration of dedicated women and men who have chosen the profession of nursing. In celebration of the nearly 350 Licensed and Registered Nurses who support the Mission of Westminster Communities of Florida, our COO, Garry Hennis, wrote a letter of thanks to all nurses. Read Garry's letter below to learn how we celebrate those who serve our residents:

May 6, 2019

Dear nursing team,

I’m excited to join the Westminster family and our whole country in observing National Nurses Week, a celebration of dedicated women and men who have chosen the profession of nursing. Nearly 350 Licensed and Registered Nurses support the Mission of Westminster Communities of Florida throughout our organization, sharing in our commitment to the quality of our residents’ lives and their wellbeing.

Nursing is a distinguished profession and are called to serve. It brings to mind my favorite hymn, for those who are called into service: Here I Am, Lord.

Here I am Lord,
Is it I, Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night,
I will go, Lord,
If you lead me,
I will hold your people in my heart.

This week I especially want to Celebrate the 350 nurses of Westminster Communities of Florida, members of the 4 Million Reasons to Celebrate.

Every day, Westminster’s nurses ensure resident safety and wellbeing, offering both a sense of security and the opportunity for residents to remain active and independent. You provide the essential communication with physicians, pharmacists, therapists and other providers to define the needs of the resident and the effective responses to those needs.

Westminster nurses have invested in the profession of nursing and through their action and commitment have become examples for others. You have encouraged women and men from all departments to respond to the call to join the profession of nursing and become Reasons to Celebrate. 

In addition, Westminster nurses participate in the essential training of students in nursing and related health care professions who come to our sites for internships and clinical practice.  Westminster nurses therefore shape the future of post-acute care.

This week, we plan to discover what nurses enjoy about working for Westminster Communities of Florida. I look forward hearing how you have responded to the call to serve our Mission of the Heart.

I am so grateful for the nurses who choose to serve the residents and families of Westminster Communities of Florida. On behalf of all of us, thank you!

Gratefully yours,

Garry D. Hennis
Chief Operating Officer
Westminster Communities of Florida

 

CEO Roger Stevens Honors Extraordinary Leaders with CEO Award, Mission Leadership Award

March 29, 2019

Leadership Awards Presented at Annual Awards Banquet, In Recognition of Exceptional Service

ORLANDO - Westminster Communities of Florida is delighted to announce two very special awards to its employees, given out by CEO Roger Stevens, at the organization's 21st Annual Awards Banquet in Orlando. These special awards are only given out when merited, and are selected by Stevens in recognition of extraordinary service.

Jim Wilde, administrator of Westminster Village in Pensacola, received the Mission Leadership Award for 13 years of exceptional leadership. The Mission Leadership Award is given to an individual who demonstrates great leadership and a commitment, over a period of many years, to the Mission and ministry of Westminster Communities of Florida.

CEO Roger Stevens presents the Mission Leadership Award to Jim Wilde, Administrator at Westminster Village.

In giving the award to Wilde, Stevens said, "Jim has done an excellent job as the administrator of a very large affordable housing community in Pensacola. He has been there for many years and has really whipped it into great shape. It is a stellar community that anyone would be proud to live in! In addition to that, Jim has trained a lot of our administrators, has helped us on many occasions through many hurricanes and other disasters. Jim is truly a leader who exemplifies the Mission and ministry of Westminster Communities of Florida. I am delighted to recognize him this evening!"

Wilde and his wife, Trish, were on hand to receive the award.

In addition, Stevens presented this year’s CEO Award for a career of extraordinary accomplishment to Callie Potter, Bookkeeping Coordinator. Potter was recognized for exemplifying the Mission and helping us be good stewards of our residents’ resources. She has worked at Westminster Woods on Julington Creek since before the community became part of the Westminster family, and has continued ever since.

Potter was unable to attend the banquet, so the award was presented in her honor to Chief Financial Officer Hank Keith. Of Potter, Keith said, "I’ve worked with Callie Potter since we took over Westminster Woods on Julington Creek. She is just the greatest individual, and the hardest working person I know. Even right now, she can’t be with us here today, she’s probably working right now! She’s done all kinds of things in our business office and has helped so many people.”

“And then she drives the bus during hurricanes,” Keith added with a smile. “I think that’s an interesting thing that she does. She’s just the best! Congratulations to Callie.”

Congratulations to Wilde and Potter on this very special recognition for their leadership and contributions to Westminster Communities of Florida's mission.

 

We Honor Our 2018 Employees of the Year and Volunteers of the Year

March 28, 2019

Congratulations to Our Employees and Volunteers of the Year

THURSDAY, March 28, 2019 – Westminster Communities of Florida threw its 21st Annual Awards Banquet to celebrate its exemplary Employees of the Year and Volunteers of the Year. The Creating Legends Program was developed to help managers "catch our employees in the act" of providing Legendary Service to our residents, their family members, and co-workers.

In 2018, there were more than 140 employees caught in the act of providing Legendary Service. We also had the help of more than 2,500 volunteers, serving approximately 275,000 hours, which is equivalent to the work of 132 full-time employees. Each recipient received a plaque of appreciation presented by CEO Roger Stevens.

We are thankful and privileged to have so many wonderful employees and volunteers who consistently "stretch" to serve our residents and benefit the greater community. And thank you to the Board of Directors and the Banquet Committee for making this event possible. 

Each of our Employees of the Year and Volunteers of the Year express the heart behind our Mission. We are delighted to shine the spotlight on these exceptional people.

View their stories in the slideshares below.

 

We Honor Women in Leadership for Women's History Month (Part III)

March 21, 2019

March is Women’s History Month, and in celebration, Westminster Communities of Florida has been highlighting the contributions women make to the leadership of our organization. These leaders represent every area of our organization, and make an impact in all of them. We’re thankful to have such excellent leaders to help guide us in living out our Mission.

“The success of every woman should be the inspiration to another,” said Serena Williams, the tennis star. “We should raise each other up. Make sure you’re very courageous: be strong, be kind, and above all, be humble.”

Read Part I of the series to learn about how our service to the residents comes first.

Part II discovers leaders who put our faith-based Mission at the core of their service.

Today, we interview leaders who have made an impact on our Mission and helped us improve our ability to fulfill it.


Sophia Morgan

“When we come together as an organization and collaborate as leaders from different genders and ethnicities, we all do better work. There are more and more women leaders in our organization, which creates more opportunities for other women to look up to them as mentors,” said Sophia Morgan, Assistant Controller.

Our Finance Department and people like Morgan play an unsung role in ensuring that we can continue to serve our residents, because, as CEO Roger Stevens often says, “With no margin, there is no Mission.” Earlier in her career, she sought to work for a faith-based, not-for-profit organization, and landed at Westminster Communities of Florida, where she began as a general ledger accountant.

Morgan adds that mentorship is a critically important role that women, and especially women of color, can provide to offer more opportunity. “We want to give other women hope that they can grow within our organization as well,” she said. “Mentors help you aspire and achieve your opportunities. Getting more women into leadership roles will encourage others to step up.”

Lisa Bloder, Regional Health Services Director, offered a similar assessment of the benefits of mentorship — to help us live out our Mission. “I believe it is important to be a mentor to our staff, to help them be the best they can be in providing quality care to our residents,” Bloder said. “A majority of our residents are women, so I believe having women in leadership roles allows us to have a better understanding of the female perspective, and how business and clinical decisions for living in our communities will affect them.”


Lisa Bloder

Bloder has worked for Westminster Communities of Florida since 1999, and she has discovered that, “Our strength comes from the belief that together, we are stronger.” She completed her master’s degree in 2016, with the support of our educational benefits, and has found encouragement over the last 20 years to grow in different positions and increase her knowledge.

To Bloder, the Mission is central to everything. She recalls then-CEO James Emerson saying to her, “Lisa, we will always put the care of our residents first. Make sure we are providing what the resident needs.” At that moment, Bloder recounts, “I knew that the Mission of this organization was truly at the heart of all we do.”

That empathy is a strength of our organization, as recounted by Teri West, Director of Clinical Services at Westminster Pharmacy Services. “The people who work in the organization really care,” West says. “The people who stay within the Westminster family, stay because their faith in the Mission is strong and their love for the residents brings them back every day. You can’t teach caring.”

Having women in leadership, she adds, helps provide a diversity of experience and perspective that makes the whole organization stronger. “Because of their dedication to resilience and balance, women can truly embrace the Mission and the responsibility of the stretches that are needed in their roles to care for our residents,” she says.

West, who was raised by a very independent mother in a single-parent household, said that she always believed she could accomplish anything. “My mother always told me, I can become whatever I want to be, no boundaries. I don’t think of myself differently based on my gender when it comes to my work,” she said.


Teri West

“The residents are the reason for us being where we are, the core of the Mission,” West said.

We asked these leaders what advice they would give to women who are seeking to grow as leaders themselves.

Morgan’s advice was simple: Keep an eye out for how you can continue to grow. “My advice is to never lose out on opportunities that can possibly exist,” she said. “See the world through a lens of opportunity, especially those unseen.”

Meanwhile, Bloder recommends focusing on completing the task at hand: “Take baby steps. Take one thing at a time, do it well, and proceed to the next item. Never let fear stop you from trying something new. And make mistakes, as [CEO] Roger Stevens says — but only new mistakes.”

Lastly, West said, “Be part of the solution to challenges. It’s easy to point at all the things that others could be, and should be, doing that they are not. You have to start with asking one simple question: ‘What can I do?’ ”

How is Westminster Communities of Florida honoring women throughout March? We look forward to sharing the final installment in this series with you soon!

 

Advocating for Those We Serve

March 15, 2019

Advocating for Those We Serve

For this year’s LeadingAge Florida Legislative Days, Westminster Communities of Florida is proud to be advocates for those we serve: All older adults throughout Florida.

On Tuesday, our senior leadership and leaders from Westminster Oaks in Tallahassee were delighted to meet at the State Capitol with senators and representatives who represent our communities in the Capitol, along with some of our partners from LeadingAge Florida. We want to thank Sen. Linda Stewart of Orlando, Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto of Fort Myers, Rep. Anna Eskamani of Orlando and Rep. Loranne Ausley of Tallahassee for meeting with us.

During our meetings we advocated on key issues affecting older adults in Florida and in all of our communities. We discussed the following key issues for our communities:

  • Affordable housing for seniors
  • Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) regulatory reform
  • Certificate of Need process in Florida
  • Nursing home staffing modernization

From left to right: Scot Aurelius, a shareholder at Moore Stephens Lovelace; Tyler Sununu, Westminster Oaks Health Services Administrator; Shannon Sauls, Westminster Oaks Assistant Executive Director; Sen. Linda Stewart of Orlando; Garry Hennis, Chief Operating Officer; Jim Polaski, Regional VP of Operations; and Rob Matschner, a shareholder at Moore Stephens Lovelace.

From left to right: Lisa Lyons, Westminster Suncoast Executive Director; Doug Feller, Village on the Isle COO; Troy Churchill, Lee FP President; Robert Gall, H.J. Sims Senior Vice President; Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto of Fort Myers; Lynn Gordon, Erickson Living Director of Regulatory Affairs; and Scott Bridgman, CliftonLarsonAllen Principal.

From left to right: Sununu, Matschner, Sauls, Rep. Anna Eskamani of Orlando, Hennis and Polaski.

From left to right: Sauls, Sununu, Polaski, Rep. Loranne Ausley of Tallahassee, Matschner, Aurelius and Hennis.

Westminster Communities of Florida appreciates the opportunity to meet with Sens. Stewart and Benacquisto and Reps. Eskamani and Ausley, and to discuss these issues of importance to seniors throughout Florida.

 

Throughout March, We're Celebrating Women in Leadership (Part II)

March 13, 2019

Throughout Women’s History Month, we’re highlighting the contributions of women in leadership roles in our organization. We are fortunate to have countless team members who exemplify our Mission of service. Today, we interview two leaders who put our faith-based Mission at the core of their service to our organization. As Saint Mother Teresa said, "I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples."

Along with every American, throughout March we will be commemorating Women’s History Month. Read Part I and learn about how our service to the residents comes first


The Rev. Jan Banker

“I’m a mother to four daughters — no sons – and entered a profession that was off limits to women for centuries, so I have a deep sensitivity to challenges women face in the workforce from multiple sources,” said the Rev. Jan Banker, an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and chaplain at Westminster Shores in St. Petersburg. “When I first joined the organization, I wanted a new experience other than serving in a local congregation that would build on my passions and also utilize my gifts and experience. I highly valued working for a church-related organization that considered chaplains important enough to make sure each of their communities employs one. I was drawn by the size and diversity of the staff which makes for a work environment that stimulates and broadens my horizons in ways most local churches cannot.”

Being from the first generation of Presbyterian women to graduate from seminary, Rev. Banker said, “Many of us struggled to get ordained and receive calls to congregations. The stained-glass ceiling–as we clergy women call it–was pressing down on me from the very start.” But, she adds, “I’ve found more parity, support and acceptance at Westminster Communities of Florida.”

An organization with a Mission inspired by the Bible has served other leaders in our organization well. Our CEO, Roger Stevens, assigns new leaders the Book of Proverbs, and encourages them to follow a path of ethical and moral leadership.


Suzanne Barnes, AIA

“I completely agree with biblical principles that support our Mission,” said Suzanne Barnes, Director of Design in our Management Services office. She quotes Psalm 127:1 as her inspiration: “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.”

Barnes, an architect, found her career come full circle when she first came to work for our organization. She holds a certificate in gerontology, along with a master’s degree in architecture, and she did her master’s thesis on design for senior living with the support of a Bradenton physician, Dr. Richard Conard. One of the communities she visited as part of her research would later become part of the family of Westminster Communities of Florida: Westminster Point Pleasant.

“I feel a blessing that Westminster offers is the network throughout the state of quality projects at varied levels, with caring colleagues and administrators who take time to handwrite heartfelt cards several times a year,” Barnes said. “I personally feel that my role as a leader is to be a steward and ambassador of our design resources and to make our office an oasis to challenge and dream about better ways to implement successful designs.

Barnes describes working in senior living design as her “dream job,” and was recently interviewed about her experiences by the Wall Street Journal. Read more about her career and her experience as Director of Design there.

Why, to a leader who is inspired by our Mission and her faith, is it important to have leadership that consists of both men and women? Rev. Banker said that isn’t just good for our organization operationally; it’s also good for the organization spiritually. “Since we are church-related and have a theology that God created male and female in the divine image, we must have women in leadership, including at the very top tiers,” she said.

What are the ways in which we can honor women this month? We look forward to sharing the next installment in this series with you soon.

 

For Women's History Month, We Celebrate Women in Leadership (Part I)

March 8, 2019

Today is International Women’s Day, and Westminster Communities of Florida is pleased to highlight the contributions of women to organizations like ours all around the world. We are honored that their work makes our organization stronger – as former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor said, “Society as a whole benefits immeasurably from a climate in which all persons, regardless of race or gender, may have the opportunity to earn respect, responsibility, advancement and remuneration based on ability.”

Along with every American, throughout March we will be commemorating Women’s History Month.

Our organization is fortunate to have a Mission at the core of what we do. Westminster Communities of Florida is far more than a family of not-for-profit, faith-based senior living communities. We're also 2,700 employees who touch lives through service every day. We are fortunate to have countless women serving our organization, as CNAs and nurses, chefs and servers, maintenance techs and housekeepers.

All throughout March, we celebrate the contributions of women in leadership to our organization. We’re proud to stand out on women’s contributions in leadership roles, including our vice presidents, executive directors, health services administrators, directors of nursing and more. Their experiences tell a story, one of dedication to the Mission of serving our residents first and foremost and to the belief that women and men make an equal contribution to the workplace.


Amanda Birch

“Having women in key leadership roles strengthens an organization by providing diversity and balance. Not-for-profit organizations tend to be an organic, natural fit for women as we seek meaningful purpose-filled work,” said Amanda Birch, Regional Director of Operations for Northeast Florida.

Birch has been the Executive Director at Westminster Woods on Julington Creek for four years. She said that when she first came to the community, many residents were surprised to note that she was the first female executive director dating back to 1964. At the same time, she has not felt that being a woman was an impediment.

Another leader at Westminster Communities of Florida, Alexandra Piriz Mookerjee, sees the presence of so many women in leadership roles as providing a clear signal of the organization’s commitment to development and growth. “I believe our organization can only truly excel when all its employees are given a fair chance of success and a dream team to look up to,” said Mookerjee, who is the Regional Director of Rental Retirement Communities and also Administrator at Magnolia Towers in downtown Orlando. “The make-up of our leadership team is inspiring. Look at the number of executive directors and RRC administrators who are female. Just being able to see those achievements helps to make all those coming up know that it is possible to grow.”


Alexandra Piriz Mookerjee

Their experiences show the opportunities for leadership growth at our organization.

Birch was promoted to the role of Regional Director of Operations, and has been serving as the chairwoman of the Residential Living Technology Guiding Coalition. In addition, she is the Management Support Services Employee of the Year for 2018, in recognition of her outstanding contributions of service during times of duress at other communities.

Meanwhile, Mookerjee wears two hats routinely, serving the residents of Magnolia Towers and supporting our other Central Florida Rental Retirement Communities. She is inspired to serve by the Mission, which she finds an integral part to her work: “I have helped hurricane refugees find a home, I have helped homeless veterans move into their first home, I have helped new front-line staff grow in their careers and advance to the next stage, I have supported families through the worst moment of their lives finding out their loved-ones have passed – those moments inspire me each day.”

The most important part of how our organization has supported growth in leadership, Birch said, has been the opportunity to learn from failures as much as successes. “Knowing that you can make a mistake, learn from it and continue to grow is an important part of development,” she said. “Not being fearful of mistakes supports that philosophy.”

We asked for their advice to women trying to make it as leaders, at any organization. Birch said, “I would recommend that women boast about their achievements, yet check their ego at the door... If I want it, I go after it and know that I have just as much of a chance as a person of the opposite gender.”

Mookerjee added, “I believe we all need someone in our corner but we also need to believe in each other. It is not always easy to believe in ourselves, but if we believe in others, in the goodness and strength of the greater good, then we can all do amazing things.”

At the end of the day, “We are honored to serve our residents and those staff who work for me, with me and who I work for: Making a difference in their lives, making each day a bit better,” Mookerjee said.

Stay tuned to be inspired all throughout March, as we honor the role of women in leading our organization and touching lives through service.

 

Westminster Woods on Julington Creek welcomes singer-songwriter Michael Reno Harrell

February 19, 2019

JACKSONVILLE, Tuesday, February 19 – Westminster Woods on Julington Creek was pleased to welcome award winning storyteller, Michael Reno Harrell. Residents enjoyed an evening of storytelling and entertainment.

Harrell’s original songs and stories have been described as “Appalachian grit and wit.” However, his awareness is much broader than the bounds of his boyhood home or even the Southern experience. He's traveled and toured through out the British Isles and Europe, as well as we the United States, and his collective life experiences are reflected through the songs he writes and the stories he creates insight into people’s lives that catch the ear like an old friend’s voice.

Residents laughed at the memories that his stories evoked and may have even shed a tear in sentiment of others. We were pleased to welcome Harrell with the support of the Westmister Retirement Communities Foundation, part of our Cultural Enrichment program, with the goal of enhancing the exclusive My W Life program for wellbeing of body, mind and soul, through intellectually stimulating events.

To learn how you can enjoy My W Life and the active lifestyle at Westminster Woods on Julington Creek, call us today at (877) 668-5138 or click here to contact us now.

  

 

‘Blessed With Another Beautiful Day’: More Than 300 Older Adults Enjoy Active Living at 5th Annual Westminster Games

February 15, 2019

At Eckerd College, more than 300 senior residents from Westminster Communities of Florida’s 10 communities enjoyed fun in the sun with outdoor festivities, games and fitness opportunities

ST. PETERSBURG, February 15, 2019 – With outdoor lawn games, live music and dancing, the Fifth Annual Westminster Games kicked off in the sunshine on Friday afternoon on the sunny campus of Eckerd College. More than 300 residents from around Westminster Communities of Florida, around the Tampa Bay area and throughout the state, came to enjoy a competition of outdoor lawn games and a group line dance by the residents. At the end of the day, their objective was to have fun in the great outdoors!

The Westminster Games showcase Westminster Communities of Florida’s active lifestyle, featuring their exclusive My W Life program for wellbeing of body, mind and soul. Residents enjoyed a fun and active experience today with the support of Eckerd College students and faculty, plus live music and dancing. Eckerd College students helped to put on the games and tabulate the scores, for inter-generational opportunities to learn more about seniors and their interests.

Attendees competed as teams by community in a variety of games to celebrate active living and wellbeing for seniors. The games included horseshoes, ring toss, corn hole and more.

At left, residents and staff enjoy a themed line dancing, including Pharrell Williams's "Happy." At right, lunch provided by Westminster Suncoast, including three sandwich choices: smoked brisket, chicken salad, and eggplant and provolone.

Mario DeLuca, Westminster Communities of Florida Director of Resident Experience, celebrated the day’s intent. “God has blessed us with another beautiful day!” DeLuca said. “All 10 of our communities are here to celebrate active living with us today. Let’s all have fun!”

Eckerd College student body President Marissa Bradley offered a warm welcome to attendees on behalf of Eckerd. “I admire the relationship that Eckerd College has formed with Westminster,” Bradley said. “It has enhanced both the lives of Eckerd students and Westminster residents alike. I speak for all the Eckerd students when I say that we are honored to host you again, and I hope you have a great time!”

After a prayer led by Eckerd College chaplain Doug McMahon, the games kicked off. Several hundred residents competed in teams to see which community would come away with the prize of first place.

In the end, Westminster Point Pleasant, in Bradenton, came in first place for this year’s Westminster Games. They were followed by second place to Westminster Manor, also in Bradenton, and St. Petersburg’s Westminster Suncoast in third place.

“There are winners, but there are no losers!” said Jim Polaski, Regional Vice President of Operations for Westminster Communities of Florida. “I hope everyone had an amazing time! Thank you all very much for coming to the Fifth Annual Westminster Games. Have a great weekend!”

Westminster Communities of Florida, the state’s largest not-for-profit provider of active senior living, emphasizes whole-person wellbeing for its older adult residents. With communities in Bradenton, Jacksonville, Orlando, St. Augustine, St. Petersburg, Tallahassee and Winter Park, the organization serves more than 7,000 residents statewide with a lifestyle featuring active living, wellness and lifelong learning.

 

New National Study Finds Active Senior Living Communities Enhance Residents' Wellness

January 29, 2019

ORLANDO — A new study of residents in Continuing Care Retirement Communities, like Westminster Communities of Florida’s active living communities, finds that residents are healthier and more optimistic, they learn more, have more personal connections and feel a greater sense of purpose than older adults in the community at large.

This report covers the first year of a five-year study, which is being conducted by the Mather LifeWays Institute on Aging, in partnership with Northwestern University. Mather surveyed more than 5,000 residents in 80 communities throughout the United States, and compared the responses to the same surveys conducted among similarly situated older adults who do not live in CCRCs.

Living in a community seems to improve not just the residents’ physical health, but their overall health. They reported being more satisfied with their life, have more physical activity and volunteer more often. Individuals pursue more intellectual activities, including readings, games and education, volunteered more often, and even use social media more regularly.

One factor that seems to make a difference, according to the study, is the emphasis on multi-dimensional wellness programs, like Westminster Communities of Florida’s My W Life program for wellbeing of body, mind and soul. “One potential explanation for these favorable outcomes across domains is that they may be the result of the opportunity-rich environments of Life Plan Communities,” the report states. “The wide array of resources, programs, and amenities available in Life Plan Communities may offer a “just right” environmental fit for residents. Such resources span the [six dimensions of wellbeing defined in the study], the availability of which provides residents with a level of support in initiating and sustaining healthy behaviors that may be greater than that experienced by their community-dwelling counterparts.”

Residents who choose a Westminster community know that there will be a plethora of opportunities for wellbeing, from lifelong learning classes on American history to yoga and Zumba, plus volunteerism, spiritual wellness opportunities and so much more. Studies dating back to a comprehensive U.S. Health and Human Services study published in 1997 have found that seniors living in Continuing Care Retirement Communities also live longer.

In an interview with McKnight’s Senior Living discussing the survey, Mather LifeWays CEO Mary Leary said, “I was delighted to see so many positive outcomes associated with living in a life plan community — the positives go much deeper than the six main dimensions of wellness included in the study… I can’t say I was surprised. The data quantifies what we already felt would be true.”

To learn more about the Age Well Study and read the first-year report for yourself, go to the Mather LifeWays Institute on Aging Web site.

 

This Thanksgiving, 'May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him'

November 21, 2018

During this season of thanks, Westminster Communities of Florida COO Garry Hennis takes a moment to thank our amazing employees for their service. He writes, "As Thanksgiving Day nears, I have reflected on what I am most grateful for. First among them is you, the dedicated team members, who live out the Mission of Westminster Communities of Florida every day. Let us all bear in mind the blessing from St. Paul, Romans 15:13:  'May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope.' I wish you and your family a Thanksgiving filled with blessings and bright moments!" Read the whole letter:

(View as a PDF)

 

Celebrate A Westminster Thanksgiving with Our Chefs' Favorite Recipes

November 14, 2018

This Year, Try A New Holiday Recipe! Enjoy Our Chefs’ Delicious Dishes

ORLANDO — Thanksgiving is a time to gather family and friends and share a special holiday meal. We say thanks for our blessings, a tradition that goes back to the Pilgrims, and share our gratitude for our loved ones. Then, we feast!

This year, we’re inviting you to celebrate a Westminster Thanksgiving by preparing some of our chefs’ favorite recipes for the holidays. Five amazing culinarians sent us their finest, to make a whole Thanksgiving feast menu, from the Norman Rockwell turkey, to a buffet full of side dishes, to a delicious and easy dessert.

Leading up to Thanksgiving, we’re publishing the chefs’ favorite recipes, so you can Celebrate A Westminster Thanksgiving with us. Make just one recipe, or make the whole feast! We’re sure that you’ll wow your guests.

These featured recipes can help you set aside old traditions and try some new side dishes:


The Turkey Centerpiece

Savory Roast Turkey and Homemade Turkey Gravy

By Chef Jimmie Jackson, Regional Chef, Westminster Communities of Florida: "Turkey and gravy — staples of traditional Thanksgiving dinner — mean a lot to me. I was always mesmerized watching my mom prepare a large stuffed bird. She would put the turkey in to roast and baste it hourly until it was a wonderful golden brown on the outside, yet still juicy on the inside. Mom put just as much loving attention into the gravy, making sure not to miss any of the rendering, and browning the roux to bring out the most flavor. What I love best about Thanksgiving is that it reminds us to give thanks for loved ones and dear friends and to give to those that are less fortunate."

Get the recipe now!


Feast On These Side Dishes

Creamed Brussels Sprouts

By Chef Kenny Hunsberger, Westminster Suncoast: "Thanksgiving is a time when we all come together, bring our own unique flavors and personalities to the table, and create a parallel between food and family. Cooking Thanksgiving dinner for my loved ones is an opportunity to show friends and family what I contributed in order to help so many others make their holidays special. I was driven by a desire to create something special, capture the flavors of traditional family offerings, but also veer from the norm. These recipes are a twist on classic dishes inspired by my passion for fresh ingredients, bold flavors and artistic displays."

Get the recipe now!

Bourbon Pecan Sweet Potatoes

Also by Chef Kenny Hunsberger, Westminster Suncoast

Get the recipe now!

Southern Cornbread Stuffing

By Chef Edward Dawes, Westminster Point Pleasant: "I grew up watching my grandmother cook traditional soul food and when I was old enough, I helped out in the kitchen. That’s where I fell in love with culinary arts. My family started preparing Thanksgiving recipes early in the week. One of my earliest memories in the kitchen is breaking up the cornbread for the dressing. What makes this recipe different from other dressing recipes is the savory flavors, use of fresh vegetables and herbs, and infusion of holiday spices. It allows you to experience different flavors, textures, and presentation. Also, nothing beats a scratch-made dressing."

Get the recipe now!


Start and End Your Holiday Meal Right

Kale, Pumpkin and White Bean Soup

By Chef Jason Ward, Westminster St. Augustine: "In New England where I grew up, there was a large Portuguese population famous for strong cuisine with bold flavors. One staple found in most homes is Portuguese soup. Making the soup is an all day event. The soup simmers on the stove and scents fill the house. Each time you stir, you gain appreciation for slow-cooked, flavorful dishes. This recipe combines the flavors and memories of my childhood. Admittedly, I modified the traditional recipe to make it my own. I hope you enjoy this recipe and share with your family and friends and make lifelong memories as it has for me."

Get the recipe now!

Coconut Chess Pie

By Chef Marisa Johnson, Westminster Shores: "My grandmother grew up on a plantation in South Carolina and with this came all of the traditional Southern baking. Every Thanksgiving, she would bake a chess pie. If you asked her what it was, she would say, “It’s just pie.” Her heavy Southern accent made it sound like she was saying “chess pie.” Since she passed, my mom has continued to bake this pie. The smell fills up the house and reminds us of her. This recipe is simple and most people have the main ingredients in their kitchen. You can also customize the flavor. For example, I chose coconut, but you can choose other flavors like lemon or chocolate."

Get the recipe now


Why are we letting these secrets out? Well, dining isn’t just part of the residents’ lifestyle at Westminster Communities of Florida, it’s an integral dimension of our My W Life program for wellbeing of body, mind and soul. Our dedicated team members in the dining rooms and kitchens — chefs, servers, dietitians and more — work hard to put delightful, restaurant-style dining on the table for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We want you to have a taste of how delicious dining can be.

A very special thanks to our chefs who contributed their recipes, including:

  • Chef Ed Dawes at Westminster Point Pleasant
  • Chef Kenny Hunsberger from Westminster Suncoast
  • Chef Marisa Johnson at Westminster Shores
  • Chef Jason Ward of Westminster St. Augustine
  • Chef Jimmie Jackson, regional chef for Westminster Communities of Florida

Whether you make one dish or the whole meal, we hope you enjoy your taste of our Thanksgiving recipes!

 

How We Marked Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October 31, 2018

All throughout October, Westminster Communities of Florida has been marking Breast Cancer Awareness Month with a variety of events to raise awareness and show solidarity with breast cancer survivors. We stand with millions of Americans in our support for a search for the cure. It’s all part of our My W Life program emphasizing wellbeing of mind, body and soul.

Here are just a few of the highlights from communities around the state:

Want to see more? We encourage you to visit us on Facebook at @WestminsterCommunitiesFL!

 

We Thank Our Amazing Employees Following Hurricane Michael

October 15, 2018

When Hurricane Michael approached the Florida Panhandle, the residents we serve were placed at risk. We’re thankful to have the support of so many who helped provide for our residents throughout the storm and power outages — especially our amazing employees. As a faith-based, not-for-profit organization, the residents and employees are our top priority.  Our staff spent countless hours to ensure the safety of our residents. We are grateful for their dedication and service. Click and enlarge the image below to read the letter from CEO Roger Stevens, COO Garry Hennis and CFO Hank Keith to all employees.

October 15, 2018

Dear Westminster employees,

Last week, Hurricane Michael hit our state. The devastation throughout the Panhandle — in Panama City, Apalachicola, Marianna, Tallahassee and beyond — that we have seen on the news and in many of the homes of our friends and family is simply heartbreaking.

No matter where you work, the whole extended family of Westminster Communities of Florida was affected in some way. Your service to our Ministry and Mission while we prepared for, weathered, and then cleaned up after Hurricane Michael was extraordinary in the highest possible terms. Your hard work enabled us to continue to serve the residents at a critical moment, from nursing support, to dining services, to lifestyle and wellness, to maintenance and housekeeping. Through your tireless efforts, we were able to ensure the safety of all of the residents.

We are thankful that our communities, the residents and all of you are safe and sound now. In spite of the destruction all around us, Westminster Oaks, Westminster Gardens, Westminster Manor – Fort Walton Beach and Westminster Village are returning to normal. The hard work of recovery begins.

Westminster Communities of Florida is blessed to have the best employees around. You are why our residents chose to live at a Westminster community!

Thank you for going above and beyond to help us fulfill our Mission of serving older adults. We appreciate you!

Sincerely,

Roger Stevens, Chief Executive Officer

Garry Hennis, Chief Operating Officer

Hank Keith, Chief Financial Officer

  View Attachment

 

Westminster Communities of Florida Wins In Best of the Bay 2018 by Creative Loafing

October 4, 2018

ORLANDO — Westminster Communities of Florida is delighted that Creative Loafing Tampa recognized us for our excellence in this year's Best of the Bay contest.

Our communities were recognized in the category of "Best Place To Get Your Mom To Move Before She Has To," a Critic's Pick. The writer said:

We all have parents (OK, well, most of us), and, like us, no one’s getting any younger. Is a nursing home with shift workers who may or may not show up the next day the best we can do for our parents? No. No, it’s not. Westminster offers an alternative that allows people to age with dignity — and, what’s more, it’s the kind of place people move to long before they “need” to. The staff is amazing, the buildings are top-notch and the care is second to none.

Westminster is proud to serve more than 7,000 residents seeking an active, Mission-inspired lifestyle in communities throughout the state, including five in the greater Tampa Bay area: Westminster Manor and Westminster Point Pleasant in Bradenton, and Westminster Palms, Westminster Shores and Westminster Suncoast in St. Petersburg.

We are delighted to have the recognition of Creative Loafing, and thankful for the many residents who count our communities home.

To learn more about the Best of the Bay and see the other award winners, visit Creative Loafing's Web site: https://www.cltampa.com/botb2018

 

Westminster Communities of Florida Partners with FSU College of Medicine to Educate Seniors About Heart Health

September 28, 2018

ORLANDO — Saturday is World Heart Day, and Westminster Communities of Florida is marking the date. We support the health and wellbeing of seniors, and one way is to help future physicians understand the needs of their older patients. In partnership with the Florida State University College of Medicine, throughout 2018, we are hosting a series of “Take Care of Your Heart Health” seminars for residents, presented by medical students.

In October, we will be hosting these seminars at our active living communities in Bradenton and Orlando, and at our affordable senior housing communities in Daytona Beach, Pensacola and Orlando. These classes are led by teams of medical students in their third and fourth years, who present useful knowledge on seniors’ wellbeing. Over 160 medical students have participated, giving presentations to hundreds of Westminster residents. The current topic is the third in a series of health-related presentations, including brain health, fall prevention and advance care planning.

Sandra Knoble, Director of Quality Initiatives for Westminster Communities of Florida, facilitates the project, part of a research grant with FSU. "In 2015, FSU met with Westminster residents to identify key areas of interest. The series was developed and delivered based on that input, leading to the success of the program. We are proud to be partners with FSU and Westminster residents and staff in offering these educational programs," says Knoble.

Westminster residents have responded enthusiastically to the seminars. “Every resident who attended commented that the students were professional, confident and patient with the residents,” said Karen Aytes-Rochester, administrator at Westminster Canterbury in Daytona Beach. “The white coats were such a hit—and our residents wouldn’t let them leave!”

This program is part of the Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Project (GWEP), focusing on educating seniors on better health and better communication with their physicians. The student facilitators are mentored by local physicians and adjunct faculty in preparation for post-graduate work experience. The FSU College of Medicine prepares the content for these programs and provides presentation scripts to the medical students. The students are equipped with an action plan to lead their teaching, as well as handouts of resources that would be relevant for seniors. Afterward, the seniors are encouraged to ask questions and develop personal action plans to increase healthy behaviors.

"The classes are limited to 20 older adults," says Knoble. "This class size fosters better interpersonal reaction between the participants and the medical students giving the presentations."

Since 2016, the program has encouraged more than 1200 seniors to learn more about their personal health and wellbeing. To learn more about the program and upcoming presentation dates, contact Jennifer Gilmour at (941) 746-9425.

 

Westminster Woods on Julington Creek Hosts 24th Annual Resident Art Show

May 30, 2018

More than 200 unique pieces on show at Jacksonville active senior living community,
featuring artwork from seniors representing 7,000 residents, 21 communities
 

JACKSONVILLE — The judges have spoken — now it's your turn to enjoy the unique and stunning artwork at the Westminster Retirement Communities Foundation’s 24th annual Resident Art Show, opening to the public on Wednesday at Westminster Woods on Julington Creek, in Jacksonville. This showcase and contest features hundreds of pieces created by senior adults who are residents at one of Westminster Communities of Florida’s active senior living communities.

“The Westminster Retirement Communities Foundation Art Show is unique in that it brings all of our communities together each year to showcase and celebrate the artistic abilities of the senior adults we serve," says Noreen Levitt, Vice President of Development for Westminster Communities of Florida. "This year we celebrate 24 years of the Art Show, and are proudly displaying over 200 works from our twenty-one campuses that include paintings, needlework and photography. The Foundation is so grateful to our donors for supporting this celebration of the incredible and diverse talents of our residents.”

Categories of artwork displayed include oil, watercolor and acrylic paint; mixed media; drawing; photography; needlework; and 3D work.

The Resident Art Show opened Wednesday, May 23 to the public at the Westminster Woods on Julington Creek auditorium, and continued through Wednesday, May 30. 

This year’s contest was judged by three North Florida professional artists: Shirley De Pasquale, a former member of the St. Augustine Board of Directors of the St. Augustine Art Association; Dulcie Hause, program manager of the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens; and Nofa Dixon, assistant professor of art at the University of North Florida.

First-, second- and third-place winners were selected in each category and are indicated with a ribbon at the show.

In addition, one work is selected by Westminster Communities of Florida CEO Roger Stevens as a Director’s Choice, and will be featured on the cover of a future art show calendar.

“We are fortunate to have such spectacular work from the residents to showcase,” said CEO Roger Stevens.

Westminster Woods on Julington Creek encourages anyone who loves art to come and enjoy the show! To learn how you can attend, call Westminster Woods on Julington Creek at 904-287-7300.

View the contest winners for each category on our Facebook page

# # #

About Westminster Woods on Julington Creek:Westminster Woods on Julington Creek, The Natural Choice, is a not-for-profit, faith-based active senior living community in Jacksonville thatoffers active lifestyles emphasizing wellbeing and lifelong learning to more than 500 residents on a beautiful waterfront location on the shore of the picturesque Julington Creek. Since 1964, Westminster Woods on Julington Creek has been Jacksonville’s first choice for active senior living.

About Westminster Communities of Florida: Westminster Communities of Florida is a faith-based, not-for-profit organization serving more than 7,000 residents in 21 communities around Florida who are in search of an enlightened, fully integrated, person-centered approach to health and wellness. Since 1954, we’ve been Florida’s best choice in active senior living. Our Mission of service commits us to creating and preserving excellent active living communities and honoring each person’s dignity, rights, self-respect and independence.

 

Highlights from National Nursing Care Week

May 21, 2018

Last week was National Nursing Care Week, a time when senior living communities around the country celebrate the employees and residents who make our communities a wonderful place to live. Westminster Communities of Florida is delighted to mark the week with “Celebrating Life’s Stories,” and parties and celebrations.

On Monday, Chief Operating Officer Garry Hennis wrote an open letter to our team members thanking them for their hard work and commitment to our Mission of service. As a non-profit, faith-based organization, we say that “at the heart of our Mission is a mission of the heart.” Read Garry’s letter on our Web site.

Throughout the week, we held events for the residents and employees to bring in a little extra fun and enthusiasm, from musical performances and choreographed dances to ice cream socials and more.

Westminster Winter Park celebrated the week with four days of festivities: German folk music, a patriotic American medley, South American dance and more. At Westminster Oaks, in Tallahassee, we enjoyed a party with appetizers, live music and a choreographed dance performance. And in St. Augustine, the newest addition to our family, Westminster St. Augustine, celebrated life’s stories through arts and crafts, with “Thumbprint in Time” coffee mugs and remembrance collages as gifts.

Some communities celebrated with activities designed to show our gratitude to the dedicated team members. In St. Petersburg, Westminster Suncoast showed our thanks to our dedicated team members by holding an “office crawl” to offer up thank-you gifts. With fruit, snacks and candy, the gifts all bore inspirational messages about our gratitude from the leadership team.

Meanwhile, in Orlando, Westminster Towers held a special event with therapy horses, to give the residents an opportunity to make equine friends. They also enjoyed a ‘Magic, Music and Comedy Show,’ a Puerto Rico-themed celebration, and even an outdoor cookout with a dunk tank —which was very popular when interim Executive Director David Randazzo took a seat!

We’re so thankful to have such wonderful residents and dedicated employees. Happy National Nursing Care Week!

 

COO Garry Hennis Writes Heartfelt Letter to 'Westminster Family' for National Nursing Care Week

May 15, 2018

Dear team members,

This week is National Nursing Care Week, a celebration of the role of our Westminster communities and our Health Center teams play in caring for older adults. We recognize and honor each of you, our 2,500 team members who serve the nearly 7,000 residents, including more than 700 in the Health Center on any given day.

Our Mission is the people we serve: Our residents and our valuable team members. You are dedicated to providing excellent care and quality residential experiences to all you serve. Your hard work, commitment and teamwork are what make Westminster communities exceptional places to live.

Together we bring a variety of unique perspectives and backgrounds. Each day, as nursing assistants, housekeepers, therapists, lifestyle assistants, social workers, maintenance, servers and cooks, we provide great experiences for the residents. We say that at the heart of our Mission is a mission of the heart and you exemplify this mission every day.

Your actions bring to mind the words of St Peter, "Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others."

We are grateful to have you as part of the Westminster family.

Enjoy this week and know that we honor your dedication. On behalf of all of us, thank you!

Sincerely,

Garry Hennis
Chief Operating Officer
Westminster Communities of Florida

 

Westminster Communities of Florida Celebrates National Nurses Week (Part 5)

May 11, 2018

All week, we’ve been celebrating nurses — because we’re so proud of them! We are fortunate to have nearly 225 nurses who serve in dedication to our residents. They care for residents in assisted living and the Health Center and providing health services to independent-living residents.

Today, we are especially pleased to be highlighting what it means to dedicate your entire career in service. Westminster COO Garry Hennis wrote that nursing is a calling, and deserves its special role in our society. Read about leadership in nursing, our Employee Scholarship Fund, or how the Mission inspires our team members, from earlier this week.

Denise Dearborn, a Registered Nurse at Westminster Point Pleasant in Bradenton, has been a nurse for more than 40 years. She’s been at the community since 2008, and she loves the sense of fulfillment she gets from caring for residents — something that’s only possible in a long-term care setting.

Dearborn said, “This is something I always wanted to do, from when I was very young. I’ve been fortunate to do it for so many years.” She has cared for people of every age. Earlier in her career, Dearborn worked in the nursery in a pediatric ward, and in hospitals and doctors’ offices, before finding her inspiration to serve seniors 15 years ago. “Taking care of seniors, I’ve found that they love to give back and tell you about their life. It’s very enriching!” she said.

The Mission of Westminster Communities of Florida has been very rewarding to Dearborn in her career as a nurse — because our organization can emphasize quality care first and foremost. “We’re so fortunate here to be able to do a wonderful job caring for the residents. We’ve had great leadership... I’ve seen communities where it’s even hard to get supplies. We’ve never had those kinds of problems,” she said.

Why become a nurse? We asked Denise that and she said, “Nursing is a very rewarding field! You have to have a willingness to want to help people. But there are also a lot of benefits. The pay is good, and we have a lot of single parents who work here. You can help support a family working in nursing. The job can be flexible, you can work nights and weekends. Flexibility is a good thing.”

“At the end of the day, I go home feeling very rewarded that I have helped somebody,” Dearborn said. “That’s a great reason to do something!”

Are you interested in joining the Westminster team? Find out more — go to www.WestminsterCommunitiesFL.org/careers!

 

Westminster Communities of Florida Continues Its Celebration of National Nurses Week (Part 4)

May 10, 2018

If you see a nurse, say thank you! That’s the theme of National Nurses Week, a time when the whole country expresses our gratitude to our hard-working nurses. Westminster Communities of Florida is thankful to have nearly 225 nurses who are hard at work serving our residents. Their dedication to our Mission of service inspires us all.

Today, we’re highlighting the way that working for a faith-based, not-for-profit organization like Westminster Communities of Florida impacts our residents and our team members. We have team members of every background serving residents of all faiths and none, but we’re all inspired by our Mission to provide the highest-quality care and services.

How does working in a non-profit, faith-based environment affect the calling to become a nurse?

National Nurses Week:Read a personal letter of thanks from COO Garry Hennis, an interview with Kim Pagana, director of nursing at Westminster Woods on Julington Creek, and learn more about how our Scholarship Fund supports continuing education.

“What I like best is that this community is a godly place,” said Lavern Charlton, a Licensed Practical Nurse at Westminster Towers.

Charlton found that working with seniors was her calling at a young age, because she was raised by her grandmother. “I love long-term care,” she says. “I love the interaction and the consistency with the same residents. I like to have that relationship with my residents. And I enjoy what I do!”

She said she sought out working for a faith-based community after her previous experiences — and she found it at Westminster Towers. “It’s a better environment for the residents as a result,” she said, “and that has an impact on us. There are a lot of residents who used to go to church regularly, and Westminster has church services to bring their faith to them.”

“Working for Westminster means that there’s a foundation where God is and he reigns,” said Charlton.

By contrast, Nafeesa Parkins, a Licensed Practical Nurse at Westminster Suncoast, is driven by her own personal passion for caring for seniors, which dovetails with the Westminster Mission.

As a non-profit organization, Parkins said she appreciates that our communities and our team members can focus all of our efforts on providing great care for our residents. She said, “The Mission inspires my work because the outcome of my residents’ satisfaction is our foremost concern.”

Parkins received her Licensed Practical Nurse degree with the support of the Westminster Retirement Communities Foundation’s Employee Scholarship Fund, another benefit of working for a not-for-profit organization. Parkins said that she plans to enroll in school this fall to obtain her Registered Nurse degree. (Learn more about our Employee Scholarship Fund in Part III of our series.)

“Nursing is not just the word ‘nursing,’ to me,” said Parkins. “It is a passion, and you really have to have a passion for that. You have to provide your spirit around them.” She added that working at Westminster Suncoast has provided a lot of renewed passion for her work: “I work with great people! The warmth is there, and you see the dedication in your peers. There is a lot of team spirit and a lot of quality in our services.”

Throughout this week, we’ll be learning more about our nurses and why they love serving the Westminster Communities of Florida Mission. Are you interested in joining the Westminster team? Find out more — go to www.WestminsterCommunitiesFL.org/careers!

 

Part 3 - Westminster Communities of Florida Celebrates National Nurses Week

May 9, 2018

 

This week is National Nurses Week, a time when the whole United States offers a hearty thank-you to the amazing people who provide care to us whenever we can’t. In celebration of the 200-plus nurses who serve the Mission of Westminster Communities of Florida, we’re highlighting some of our dedicated team members who care for our residents.

Today, we are especially proud to highlight our nurses who were able to become Registered Nurses and Licensed Practical Nurses with the support of our Tuition Reimbursement program and our Employee Scholarship Funds, part of the Westminster Retirement Communities Foundation. As a not-for-profit organization, these funds are provided by our generous residents and friends who want to see our team members succeed.

National Nurses Week: Read a personal letter of thanks from COO Garry Hennis and an interview with Kim Pagana, director of nursing at Westminster Woods on Julington Creek.

“This is a very rewarding job – really, I don’t even think of it as my job. It’s so rewarding to me,” said Louis Lester, a nurse at Westminster Shores in St. Petersburg. Lester is an Army veteran who served for 20 years in combat roles, before deciding that he wanted to heal people and provide support. “I went into nursing as a change of pace from my duties as a soldier. I became a [Licensed Practical Nurse] in 2013, and graduated with distinguished honors from Kaiser College. I fell in love with it and I’ve been doing nursing ever since,” he said.

Lester expects to complete his Registered Nurse degree in December 2018, with assistance from the Virginia Baxter Scholarship at Westminster Shores. “I’ve been blessed to have the support of the residents to pursue my degree. I say thank you all the time and let them know how appreciative I am of it.”

Another nurse, Kyle Budzisz, said that he had always wanted to become a nurse, and receiving a scholarship helped make his dreams possible. Budzisz, who is originally from Wisconsin, became a CNA because Wisconsin required it before he could go to nursing school. “Once I became a CNA and got into the field, started to see how things operate, I was really struck by how much I wanted to be able to continue to do it,” Budzisz said.

“What I like about working at Westminster Winter Park is the interaction that I get with the residents,” Budzsiz said. “They stay around, and you really get to know them – almost like family. You can build connections with them.”

Having the opportunity to grow one’s skills is something that Budzisz highlighted based on his own experience. “I have had a lot of co-workers consider getting their RN!” he said. “You should always try to keep moving forward. For a lot of CNAs, that is becoming a nurse. For an LPN, that’s becoming an RN. It’s a wonderful opportunity to become better at your work.”

To Lester, the nurse at Westminster Shores, being able to apply for a scholarship to help pay for school sets Westminster communities apart from a lot of other places he’s worked. “The scholarship funds are a wonderful benefit, and that’s one of the things I tell other people about why they should work for Westminster. Other companies offer tuition reimbursement, but only Westminster will give you a scholarship,” Lester said.

Westminster Communities of Florida is committed to providing all of our employees with the opportunity to advance and to find a bright future in the career of their choice.

Throughout this week, we’ll be learning more about our nurses and why they love serving the Westminster Communities of Florida Mission. Are you interested in joining the Westminster team? Find out more — go to www.WestminsterCommunitiesFL.org/careers!

 

 

 

Westminster Communities of Florida Celebrates National Nurses Week (Part 2)

May 8, 2018

Westminster Communities of Florida is so proud of all of our nurses, who work in dedication to our residents. We’re fortunate to have 223 Registered Nurses and Licensed Practical Nurses who work in our communities, caring for residents in assisted living and the Health Center and providing health services to independent-living residents.

Nurses are the living embodiment of our Mission of service, as stated in the letter of thanks by COO Garry Hennis. We often say that at the heart of our Mission is a mission of the heart, and the dedicated team members who provide direct care to our residents are at its center.

This week, for National Nurses Week, we’re celebrating their service and learning more about these dedicated nurses. What motivates them about nursing, and why do they love serving the residents of Westminster Communities of Florida?

“It’s all about the residents and being able to have a moment with the residents,” said Kim Pagana, director of nursing at Westminster Woods on Julington Creek in Jacksonville. “They have lived such long, experienced lives, and we have so much to learn from them!”

Pagana, who has been at Westminster Woods on Julington Creek since 2014, realized early on that caring for seniors is her real passion in nursing. She’s been a nurse for nearly 25 years and has worked in long-term care for 19 years. Her aim as the leader of a team of nurses and Certified Nursing Assistants is to always put our residents first — it’s even in our Mission statement. “The Mission creates a different sense of culture: Our mindset isn’t the bottom line – it’s about what’s best for the resident,” she said.

The best part of long-term care, according to Pagana, is that you get to form a relationship with the residents. “They become like your family, your parents or grandparents. You don’t see that in a hospital or a physician’s office or any kind of outpatient setting,” Pagana said. “It is very rewarding.”

“This work is very much about the residents and being able to have a moment with the residents. In other areas of nursing, you don’t get a chance to form those relationships and to make such a difference in a resident’s or a patient’s life. If you think this sounds good to you, you should try it!”

Westminster Woods on Julington Creek has planned a fantastic week of celebration for National Nurses Week as a way of saying thank-you — Pagana is even going to spend some time in the dunk tank! “I try to really show our staff how appreciative I am for their service, and appreciative the residents, family members and staff all are for what they do for us and in supporting each other,” she said.

Learn more about why our nurses love serving the Mission this week as we share more of their stories. Are you interested in joining the Westminster team? Find out more — go to www.WestminsterCommunitiesFL.org/careers!

 

COO Garry Hennis Writes Letter of Thanks to Nurses

May 7, 2018

I’m excited to join the Westminster family and our whole country in observing National Nurses Week, a celebration of dedicated women and men who have chosen the profession of nursing. More than 223 Licensed and Registered Nurses support the Westminster Mission throughout our communities, sharing in our commitment to the quality of our residents’ lives and their wellbeing.

Nursing is a distinguished profession for those who are called to serve. It brings to mind my favorite hymn, for those who are called into service: Here I Am, Lord.

Here I am Lord,
Is it I, Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night,
I will go, Lord,
If you lead me,
I will hold your people in my heart.

This week I especially want to celebrate the nurses of Westminster Communities of Florida, who Inspire and Influence all of us. 

Westminster Nurses inspire! During Hurricane Irma and its aftermath, the nursing team’s inspiring dedication amid evacuations and temporary relocations ensured the residents’ safety and wellbeing under emergency conditions. 

Our nurses influence other members of the Westminster family to do our best every day. They also encourage us to consider additional education and training to join the profession of nursing – often at great personal sacrifice. Women and men from all departments have been moved to respond to the call.

This week, we will ask many of our nurses why they love being a nurse and what they enjoy about working for Westminster Communities of Florida. Each has said the same thing, in different ways: They have responded to the call to serve our Mission of the Heart. I look forward to sharing their stories with you.

I am so grateful for the nurses who choose to serve the residents and families of Westminster Communities of Florida. On behalf of all of us, thank you!

Gratefully yours,

Garry Hennis
Chief Operating Officer

 

New Resident Experience Program Encourages Residents and Employees to Celebrate Life

May 1, 2018

Something big is happening in our communities across the state. Residents at Westminster Manor are celebrating with a clamorous drum circle, while residents at Westminster Suncoast are taking group walks along the water. What could be the cause of so much celebration?

Westminster Communities of Florida has unveiled its newest annual lifestyle event—Celebrating Your Life. This exciting initiative introduces a monthly calendar of various themed activities and events to appeal to our MyWLife wellbeing program’s Eight Dimensions of Wellbeing:  physical, nutritional, community, lifelong learning, spiritual, emotional, vocational, and social. Around the state, we’re working hard to facilitate these festive celebrations all year long. 

“Residents will embrace many wonderful memories and learn how to care more for themselves,” said Josh Alfrey, Wellbeings Coordinator for Westminster Communities of Florida. Alfrey provides guidance to program facilitators and judges the monthly competition between employee teams at all communities. “Our goal is to incorporate all departments working together to focus on the Eight Dimensions of Wellbeing and really highlight each aspect every month.”

Celebrating Your Life is different from last year’s very successful Westminster Travels America initiative, which focused on locations around the U.S.  This year’s theme focuses on you! January’s theme celebrated “New Beginnings” as communities across the state planned New Year’s celebrations, learned new traditions, and discussed resolutions. February celebrated “Express Love” as residents organized Valentine’s and wedding memory parties. March was all about “Celebrating You,” encouraging everyone to soul search and date themselves to find what they like and who they can connect with. April was family month, as residents across the state shared the memories and traditions that bring neighbors closer.

There’s an event for everyone. For example, the Westminster Oaks Dining Services team hosted a menu tasting for neighbors and friends to mingle and decide which new flavors would be added to the menus. In Orlando, festive neighbors and friends at Westminster Winter Park danced the night away at a St. Patrick’s Day dance.

What is May’s focus? This month we’re celebrating women, including our mothers, caregivers, and those in leadership.

Here’s the rest of the year’s monthly calendar for an exciting 2018:

June: “Celebrate Men”

July: “Celebrate Patriotism” 

August: “Celebrate Vacations”

September: “Celebrate Sports”

October: “Celebrate the Florida Lifestyle”

November:  “Celebrate Thanksgiving”

December: “Celebrate Holidays”

To learn more about how our wellbeing programs can enhance residents’ and employees’ lifestyles, read more on our MyWLife page.

 

Westminster Honors Employees and Volunteers of the Year

April 9, 2018

On Tuesday, April 3, Westminster Communities of Florida threw its 20th annual Awards Banquet to celebrate its exemplary Employees of the Year and Volunteers of the Year. The Creating Legends Program was developed to help managers "catch our employees in the act" of providing Legendary Service to our residents, their family members, and co-workers.

There were more than 900 employees caught in the act of providing Legendary Service in 2017. We also had the help of more than 3,000 volunteers, serving approximately 330,000 hours, which is equivalent to the work of nearly 160 full-time employees. Each recipient received a plaque of appreciation presented by CEO Roger Stevens.

Westminster Suncoast Executive Director Mark Beggs was honored with the CEO Award for his exceptional leadership. We also congratulate Melba Gilbert, AL Certified Nursing Assistant at Westminster Winter Park who has achieved the milestone of 36 years of service in our organization. 

 

We are thankful and privileged to have so many wonderful employees and volunteers who consistently "stretch" to serve our residents and benefit the greater community. And thank you to the Board of Directors and the Banquet Committee for making this event possible. 

Each of our Employees of the Year and Volunteers of the Year express the heart behind our Mission. We are delighted to shine the spotlight on these exceptional people.

View their stories in the Slideshare below.

 

Westminster Suncoast Executive Director Mark Beggs Honored with 2018 CEO Award

April 6, 2018

ORLANDO — Westminster Communities of Florida is pleased to announce the recipient of this year's CEO Award, given out by CEO Roger Stevens, at the organization's 20th Annual Awards Banquet in Orlando. This special recognition is only given when merited, and is selected by Stevens in acknowledgement of extraordinary service.

Mark Beggs, executive director of Westminster Suncoast in St. Petersburg, received the CEO award for his extraordinary leadership in guiding his team to high resident satisfaction and top occupancy.

"The residents' satisfaction on our quality of life surveys gave them top scores. And on Friday, they had achieved the highest occupancy in the organization," said Stevens.

During his presentation, Stevens said, "Mark, you have provided great leadership to Westminster Suncoast and we are so happy. People make a difference. If you get the right person in the right spot, things happen and you are a great example of that, Mark. It is my pleasure to give you the CEO Award for 2018."

Congratulations to Mark Beggs on this very special recognition for his leadership contributions to Westminster Communities of Florida's Mission.

 

Westminster Communities of Florida Celebrates Women in Leadership (Part 3)

March 29, 2018

At Westminster Communities of Florida, we’re blessed to have thousands of dedicated team members who are committed to our Mission of service. We’ve been highlighting the contributions of women in leadership roles throughout our organization. Today, we speak with several team members whose role is to ensure that our residents have the best possible experiences.

Ariana Algarin, College Arms Towers Administrator, emphasized that our Mission makes a Westminster community a great place for employees to work. “When employees are emotionally engaged in their work, it strengthens our Mission of caring for older adults,” she said. “Our purpose is to make the residents feel at home, safe, and happy, and the best way to accomplish that is by engaging with the residents and creating a special bond that they can trust.”

College Arms Towers is an affordable housing community for older adults in DeLand and a new addition to our family last year. Part of our Mission and ministry of service to seniors with low incomes, the community provides quality and affordable apartments to more than 200 residents under Algarin’s leadership.

Algarin found that our organization’s dedication to having women in leadership roles makes us stronger. “Women can strengthen an organization by challenging traditional views in the workplace and changing the dynamics. We also show our strength through our passion towards our work which helps drive forward our commitment to the Mission,” she said. Algarin also said she’s thankful for the opportunity to make a difference in the residents’ lives, and to grow as a leader, too: “Westminster gave me an opportunity to make a difference in other people’s lives. I have been given all the tools to succeed, and have been mentored by women I respect and admire.”

Meanwhile, Westminster Communities of Florida’s Director of Therapy, Bot Zantua, echoed the comments of Westminster Oaks Director of Nursing Jill Dean, in Part II of this series. “Being a woman in leadership is really about doing your job!” Zantua said. “People sometimes say, ‘Is it harder for you because you’re a woman,’ and I don’t know what they mean by hard. To me, this is what I do! I have to do the same job.”

Zantua, who has been Director of Therapy for four years, said that by coincidence most of her applicants for careers in therapy are split between men and women. “Women bring compassion to leadership,” she said, “but that’s not a weakness — it’s a strength.”

Above all, Zantua said that the most important thing women — or any team member — can learn this month is to do their best. “Do your best job and you’ll be noticed!” she said. “Your reputation is what you’re going to be known for, not your gender.”

 

Westminster Communities of Florida Celebrates Women in Leadership (Part 2)

March 22, 2018

Westminster Communities of Florida is fortunate to have countless team members who exemplify our Mission of service. During Women's History Month, we're highlighting the contributions of women in leadership roles throughout our organization. Today, we interview team members who are touching lives through the core of our Mission: Nursing care.

"Women tend to naturally exhibit nurturing qualities, which may be an added value considering our organization's commitment to caring and promoting the wellbeing of our older adults," said Marie Desgraves, Director of Westminster Home Care in St. Petersburg. "Women can open new windows by serving as change agents, and by being focused on selective goals for the organization."

Desgraves worked as a nurse for more than 20 years before she came to our organization. She then served as Assisted Living Coordinator at Westminster Shores, and then as Director of Nursing at Westminster Home Care. Through her hard work and excellent service, she was recently promoted.

She said that she believes that the real value in having women in leadership is to offer diversity. "Diversity in the workplace has a profound influence," said Desgraves. "Women bring different dimensions to the environment via creativity, empathy and collaboration. In leadership, having various perspectives can lead to better decision-making."

We asked Jill Dean, Director of Nursing at Westminster Oaks in Tallahassee, why she loves working for our organization — and what impact comes from having women in leadership roles. She agreed with what Director of Quality Initiatives Sandra Knoble said in Part I of this series: "What matters is our organization's ability to be progressive and emphasize being gender-neutral and move beyond traditional barriers. The bottom line is, if you want to give appropriate healthcare to everyone, you have to give it equally to everyone without prejudice," Dean said.

As a nurse, Dean is at the front lines of providing care to our residents. She sees how our Mission influences everything we do, each day: "The Mission of the organization and of our community is to provide the best care possible, which involves the best ethics of how to deliver and what to deliver as far as care for those we serve. That's what was most important to me," Dean said.

Dean said that she believes there's a lot of opportunity for team members to make an impact, especially in nursing. "My best advice is: Develop your people skills and your team-building skills, and strive to be ego-free. You have to want for the greater good, you have to be honest at all times, and you have to be passionate. Serve with heart and a smile! That's the key to success."

There are many opportunities at Westminster Communities of Florida for our team members to grow and to succeed. Find the opportunity that suits you today — visit our jobs page on LinkedIn to learn more!

 

Westminster Suncoast's Resident Garden Is in Full Bloom

March 20, 2018

It’s the first day of spring and to mark the occasion, we’re celebrating the special new vegetable garden at Westminster Suncoast in St. Petersburg!

Westminster Suncoast is known as a lively garden community, so it comes as no surprise that its residents wanted a flourishing legacy. Recently, they unveiled their new community vegetable garden, the product of several resident gardening enthusiasts. The garden boasts fresh broccoli, cabbage, Swiss chard, spinach, basil, carrots, tomatoes, eggplant and various peppers, using an innovative product, the EarthBox. Now after hard work, the bounty of their efforts is being served as delectable entrees in the main dining room at lunch and dinner.

This resident-led garden is a special story of teamwork among neighbors, volunteers, employee teams, and community experts. Resident woodworkers built platforms for the plants. Members of the maintenance team built a brick terrace embedded in the concrete base of the garden. A fresh water supply was run to the garden area and several resident gardeners formed a committee to oversee the project and commit themselves to scrupulous organization and planning before planting the first seed. Experts from the Pinellas County Extension Service recommended the selection of the EarthBox and helped with size selection and plant choices.

Today, the resident garden is a cornucopia of fresh vegetables, herbs, and excitement. It’s an attraction that draws residents and visitors to view the selection of produce. Dining Services Director Jason Brunner and Chef Kenny Hunsperger from Dining Services team have begun incorporating the community-grown broccoli and cabbage into the dining menu, featured in salads and coleslaws.

The garden utilizes an innovative container garden system called the EarthBox, which was actually invented by a former resident at Westminster Point Pleasant. Due to its ease of use, portability and resistance to critters, the EarthBox can grow vegetables, herbs and fruit simpler than with traditional, in-ground methods. The Westminster Retirement Communities Foundation, who is committed to enhancing the lives of Westminster residents, awarded the Garden Committee $10,000 to complete the purchase of 24 EarthBox kits and various herbs and vegetable seedlings. These kits were installed, using organic soil, fertilizer, dolomite and covers and with custom-built stands, surrounded by a white fence, composter, potting bench, and sundry tools.

The best part of this garden is the spirit of camaraderie and accomplishment among a group of garden enthusiasts who knew this project would enhance their way of life. Westminster Suncoast resident Julia, an experienced organizer and garden enthusiast, heads the Garden Committee and led the methodical and detailed approach to building the garden. As a result of the efforts of her team, the help of community organizations like the Pinellas County Extension Service, the support of the Westminster Retirement Communities Foundation, and the Florida sunshine, these residents and employees have planted an ecosystem of cooperation.

 

 

Westminster Communities of Florida Celebrates Women in Leadership (Part 1)

March 8, 2018

Today is International Women’s Day, a day that commemorates the rights of women in the workplace and highlights their contributions to organizations all around the world.

At Westminster Communities of Florida, we’re so fortunate to have a Mission to live out every day: We serve older adults. But we’re more than a family of not-for-profit, faith-based senior living communities serving residents who enjoy an active lifestyle. We are also employees who touch lives through service every day.

Our organization is fortunate to have countless women serving our organization — nearly 1,500 women on our teams serving as nurses, CNAs, chefs, servers, maintenance techs and housekeepers. We’re especially fortunate to stand out on women’s contributions in leadership roles, including our directors of nursing, executive directors, health services administrators, vice presidents and more.

This March, we’re celebrating the contributions of women in leadership to our organization. Their experiences tell a story, one of dedication to the Mission of serving our residents first and foremost and to the belief that women and men make an equal contribution to the workplace.

“Women often move toward the caring professions and go the extra mile to serve,” said Sandra Knoble, Director of Quality Initiatives. “Having women in leadership roles means we can identify and extend opportunities to other Westminster women to grow both in their chosen work and personally – in a manner consistent with the Mission – to honor each person and to use our resources well.”

Knoble, who has also served our organization since 2012 as Health Services Administrator and Executive Director at Westminster Manor, said that there was a time when it was uncommon to find women in leadership roles — even in senior living. But even then, what mattered most was one’s ability to do the work at an exceptional level.

In 2015, Knoble and the “Manor Proud” team of residents and employees at Westminster Manor was awarded the CEO Leadership Award by Roger Stevens, Westminster Communities of Florida CEO, in recognition of their hard work in transforming their community and making positive changes. Today, she oversees the organization’s quality improvement processes and our research partnership with the Florida State University College of Medicine. Learn more about the Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Project in this article from 2017.

Des Marie Johnson agreed with Knoble’s assessment. “Diversity can only strengthen an organization,” said Johnson, one of our newest leaders and Health Services Administrator at Westminster Baldwin Park. Johnson is new to the organization but a veteran in the field of senior living, having served in capacities ranging from activities assistant to sales director. Westminster Baldwin Park is our newest community in Orlando’s Baldwin Park neighborhood, offering Rapid Recovery short-term nursing care and long-term nursing care. Under Johnson’s leadership, Westminster Baldwin Park recently obtained its Medicare certification. Learn more about Westminster Baldwin Park.

“As a woman in a leadership role, I have always tried to treat people fairly and with respect, regardless,” Johnson said.

Why should a leader strive for success? Knoble and Johnson agreed that the key is to push onward and achieve your goals. “Never give up on your dreams,” Johnson added. “It doesn’t matter what you may have to face. Don’t give up!”

Stay tuned to be inspired, as we honor the role of women in leading our organization and touching lives through service.

 

We Enjoy Active Living, Fun and Games in the Sun At The Fourth Annual St. Pete Games

February 16, 2018

At Eckerd College, more than 300 senior residents from around Florida enjoyed Westminster’s St. Pete Games, with outdoor festivities, games and fitness opportunities

ST. PETERSBURG, February 16, 2018 – In the sunlight on a pleasant Friday afternoon at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, nearly 400 Westminster Communities of Florida residents from nine active senior living communities around Tampa Bay and throughout the state came together for Westminster’s fourth annual St. Pete Games. This year’s event featured outdoor lawn games and a tai chi demonstration by the residents. The objective: Have fun in the great outdoors! Attendees competed as teams by community in a variety of games to celebrate active living and wellbeing for seniors.

The St. Pete Games showcase wellness for residents enjoying active living with the support of Eckerd College students and faculty. Residents enjoyed tai chi, corn hole, ring toss, a foam javelin throw and more — plus live music and dancing. Eckerd College students helped to put on the games and tabulate the scores, for inter-generational opportunities to learn more about seniors and their interests.

Garry Hennis, Westminster Communities of Florida chief operating officer, celebrated the day’s intent. “Today is all about fun — and we know that Westminster knows how to have fun!” Hennis said. “Let’s go and enjoy the great outdoors!”

“We’re so glad to be celebrating with great weather, wonderful music and a great time together,” said Eckerd College chaplain Doug McMahon. “On behalf of our president and everyone here at Eckerd College, welcome!” The St. Pete Games are hosted by Eckerd College as part of the university’s partnership of lifelong learning with Westminster Communities of Florida.

More than 400 residents were at this year's St. Pete Games from all around the state. "We came down from Tallahassee, and we're having a really good time here," said Sue Gambill, a resident at Westminster Oaks in Tallahassee. "My best event was cornhole. I did really bad in some events. But I still had fun!"

"I'm out here to have fun! I stay active and have a good time in this beautiful weather," said Buz Smith of Bradenton. "My community, Westminster Point Pleasant, is going to win!"

Congratulations to this year's winners: First place went to to Westminster Towers of Orlando! Second place was Westminster Point Pleasant of Bradenton, and third place to Westminster Shores of St. Petersburg.

Westminster Communities of Florida, the state’s largest not-for-profit provider of active senior living, emphasizes whole-person wellbeing for its older adult residents. With communities in Bradenton, Jacksonville, Orlando, St. Petersburg, Tallahassee and Winter Park, the organization serves nearly 7,000 residents statewide with a lifestyle featuring active living, wellness and lifelong learning.

 

Hurricane Irma Updates

September 29, 2017

To learn the latest recovery update from Hurricane Irma, please CLICK HERE.

 

Westminster Communities of Florida Thanks Employees for Legendary Service During Hurricane Irma

September 19, 2017

When Hurricane Irma approached Florida, the seniors we serve around the state were at risk. As a faith-based, not-for-profit organization, we’re thankful to have the support of so many who helped provide for our residents throughout the storm and power outages—especially our employees. Our staff spent countless hours in their communities to ensure the safety of our residents and we are grateful for their dedication and service. Click and enlarge the image below to read the letter from CEO Roger Stevens, COO Garry Hennis and CFO Hank Keith to all employees.

September 18, 2017

Dear Westminster employees,

A little more than a week ago, Hurricane Irma hit Florida. The devastation in the Caribbean, the Florida Keys, and throughout Southwest Florida that we have seen on the news and via social media is simply heartbreaking.

Every one of our communities, and every member of our extended family of residents and employees, was affected in some way. In preparing for the storm, continuing to serve through it, and cleaning up in the aftermath, your service to our Ministry and Mission of serving residents was truly extraordinary. Some of you sheltered in place; others evacuated to their sister communities, or to points beyond. In every case, your hard work allowed our communities to continue without a hitch, from nursing support, to dining services, to lifestyle and wellness, to maintenance and housekeeping.

Last week, a member of our Management Support Services staff, who volunteered to help serve residents in one of our communities, described with tears in her eyes how our community staff selflessly worked long hard hours supporting, serving and encouraging residents through the storm. Through your tireless efforts, we were able to ensure the safety of all of the residents.

We are fortunate to have the best employees and teams around. You are why our residents chose to live at a Westminster community!

We thank you all for going above and beyond the last several days helping us achieve our Christian Mission of serving older adults. We appreciate you all so much!

Sincerely,

Roger Stevens, Chief Executive Officer

Garry Hennis, Chief Operating Officer

Hank Keith, Chief Financial Officer

 

Westminster Gets "Chopped": Culinary competition brings the heat

June 27, 2017

For our chefs, culinary skills aren't just about keeping a sharp knife. July may be National Culinary Month, but the Westminster Communities of Florida dining teams are taking a bite at excellence already! Last week, we had an all-day training highlighted by a special "Chopped" culinary competition, held in the Acosta Foodservice kitchen in Orlando.

Each team of five chefs had one hour to make an appetizer, entree and two sides, using the same food basket of ingredients: Chicken breasts, sausage, cabbage, bananas, granola and more – and they set out to create the best appetizer, entree and sides.

In the end, the dishes had to withstand the heat of the judges. They scored each team based on their creative use of the ingredients, taste and presentation. Each team had to present their plate and explain the ingredients, cooking technique and inspiration. Beyond the food basket, they had use of a fully stocked pantry to assist them in creating the dishes.

The competition to win was fierce. Resident Experience Mario DeLuca said, "I wasn't surprised that the competition was so intense. We've developed a strong culinary team that has exceptional cookery skills and a true passion for food and the culinary arts. It's very rewarding."

Although the competition was intense, two stunning dishes were presented by the winning team to the judges: A flank steak bruschetta appetizer served on sweet banana tostones, and topped with sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese and polenta, and an entree of granola-crusted chicken breast with a chorizo and root vegetable hash, slaw of napa cabbage and plum, and a balsamic molasses drizzle.

Congratulations to the winning team, composed of Westminster Winter Park Executive Chef Elijah Durham, Westminster Woods on Julington Creek Dining Services Director David Graham, Westminster Suncoast Executive Chef Kenny Hunsberger, and Westminster Point Pleasant Assistant Dining Services Director Melissa Paul.

Chef Durham said, "I had a great time! As a chef who was new to the organization, I was honored to be able to work with Chef Kenny, Melissa and David. Our team had great comradery and organization. We listened to each other's ideas and executed them well. I was very happy with our team and our placement in the competition, and very much look forward to the next competition!"

"Chopped" and trainings like it are all part of our commitment to enhancing the resident dining experience and providing training opportunities for all of our team members. After all, dining is one of the dimensions of our exclusive My W Life program.

 

SENIORS ENJOY ACTIVE LIVING, FUN AND GAMES IN THE SUN WITH WESTMINSTER COMMUNITIES OF FLORIDA

March 6, 2017

At Eckerd College, more than 300 senior residents from around Florida
enjoyed the organization’s St. Pete Games, with outdoor festivities, games and fitness opportunities

ST. PETERSBURG, March 6, 2017 – In the bright sun on a pleasant day last Friday afternoon, more than 300 Westminster Communities of Florida residents from around Tampa Bay and throughout the state came together at Eckerd College’s GO Pavilion for Westminster’s third annual St. Pete Games. The objective: Have fun in the great outdoors! The attendees competed as teams in a variety of games to celebrate active living and wellbeing for seniors.

The St. Pete Games showcase wellness for residents enjoying active living with the support of Eckerd College students and faculty. Residents enjoyed shotput, horseshoes, putting, lawn darts, croquet and more, plus live music and dancing. Eckerd students helped to put on the games and tabulate the scores, for inter-generational opportunities to learn more about seniors and their interests.

“What a beautiful day! I’m glad to be here and having so much fun,” said Terry Arnn, a resident at Westminster Winter Park, who traveled down to St. Petersburg for the day. “It’s been great seeing the smiles and the positive attitude. Plus, I was 5-for-5 in lawn darts!”

The St. Pete Games are hosted by Eckerd College as part of the university’s partnership of lifelong learning with Westminster Communities of Florida. “Welcome back!” said Eckerd chaplain Douglas McMahon. “Our partnership with Westminster has grown so much through the years. We’re fortunate to have here two institutions with a passion for lifelong learning.”

Marcia Mensing, a resident at Westminster Palms in St. Petersburg, said that she had been at all three games. “I love seeing everyone outside and active,” Mensing said. “Wow, it’s nice seeing everyone in such a different context.”

Westminster Communities of Florida, the state’s largest not-for-profit provider of active senior living, emphasizes whole-person wellbeing for its older adult residents. With communities in Bradenton, Jacksonville, Orlando, St. Petersburg, Tallahassee and Winter Park, the organization serves nearly 7,000 residents statewide with a lifestyle featuring active living, wellness and lifelong learning.

More than 300 residents took part in the Games, including shotput, horseshoes and more.

It's '90s again -- employees and residents dance the Macarena!

Several residents competed in croquet, another of the 10 games available for competition.

In the end, the winners were Westminster Suncoast, Westminster Shores and Westminster Manor. Congratulations to all the teams!

 

Westminster Communities of Florida Partners with Florida State for Heart Health

February 8, 2017

Westminster Communities of Florida is celebrating Heart Health Month this year by offering "Taking Care of Your Heart Health" seminars throughout the state, in partnership with the Florida State University College of Medicine.

In February, classes will be offered in Bradenton, Orlando, Pensacola and Tallahassee. In these classes, teams of medical students in their third and fourth years give presentations to seniors with useful knowledge on their wellbeing. More than 70 medical students have participated, giving presentations to hundreds of Westminster residents. The current topic is the third series of health-related presentations, starting with "Brain Health" in spring of 2016 and followed by "Fall Prevention" last summer.

Sandra Knoble, Director of Quality Initiatives for Westminster, facilitates the project, part of a research grant with FSU. "We are proud to partner with the FSU College of Medicine and we are glad for the opportunity to provide these classes to seniors who would not have such opportunities," says Knoble.

This program is part of the Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Project (GWEP), focusing on educating seniors on better health and better communication with their physicians. The student facilitators are mentored by local physicians and adjunct faculty in preparation for post-graduate work experience. The FSU College of Medicine prepares the content for these programs and provides presentation scripts to the medical students. The students are equipped with an action plan to lead their teaching, as well as handouts of resources that would be relevant for seniors. Afterward, the seniors are encouraged to ask questions and develop personal action plans to increase healthy behaviors.

Heart health classes began in January and will continue throughout the spring. Previously, the classes offered included "Brain Health" and "Fall Prevention."

"The classes are limited to 20 older adults," says Knoble. "This class size fosters better interpersonal reaction between the participants and the medical students giving the presentations."

The program has encouraged more than 200 seniors to learn more about their personal health and wellbeing.

To learn more about the program and upcoming presentation dates, contact Jennifer Gilmour at (941) 746-9425.

 

Westminster Recognizes the Legendary Service of Employees During Hurricane Matthew

January 17, 2017

We recognize our employees throughout the state for their legendary service when Hurricane Matthew hit the East Coast of Florida. After Westminster Woods on Julington Creek and Riverside Presbyterian House, both in Jacksonville, were ordered to evacuate, our dedicated team members throughout the state pitched in to continue to provide the highest level of service to our residents.

In appreciation, our executive leadership team presented proclamations of thanks to the communities of:

  • Westminster Woods on Julington Creek (Jacksonville)
  • Riverside Presbyterian Apartments (Jacksonville)
  • Riverside Presbyterian House (Jacksonville)
  • Westminster Manor (Bradenton)
  • Westminster Point Pleasant (Bradenton)
  • Westminster Asbury (Cocoa)
  • Westminster Canterbury (Daytona Beach)
  • College Arms Towers (DeLand)
  • Hugh Ash Manor (DeLand)
  • Westminster Towers (Orlando)
  • Westminster Winter Park (Orlando)
  • Westminster Oaks (Tallahassee) 

The staff of these communities worked long hours through the storm to provide shelter, food, care and entertainment for more than 100 residents and employees from the two communities evacuated. We extend a heartfelt thanks to the employees and residents of Westminster Communities of Florida for their dedication to our Mission and touching lives through service to the residents and staff of our organization.

Westminster Woods on Julington Creek

Riverside Presbyterian Apartments

Riverside Presbyterian House

Westminster Winter Park

Westminster Towers

Westminster Manor of Bradenton

 

We are thankful for our Employees and Volunteers of the Year

March 18, 2016

ORLANDO — Westminster Communities of Florida threw its 18th Annual Awards Banquet to celebrate its wonderful Employees of the Year and Volunteers of the Year, on Thursday, March 17.

There are so many accomplishments to celebrate: more than 140 employees were “caught in the act” of providing Legendary Service in 2015. We also had the help of more than 2,300 volunteers.

At the banquet we acknowledged the best of 2015 at the Rosen Plaza Hotel. Our theme was “You’re in the Movies!” complete with a red carpet and the flashbulbs of the Westminster paparazzi.

Read their stories about their wonderful contributions!

We want to thank all of Westminster Communities of Florida’s wonderful employees and volunteers for making this such a great organization; and to the Board of Directors and the Banquet Committee for making this event possible.

 

Better baking with Pillsbury's Gold Medal

March 16, 2016

Westminster Oaks Chef Oral Webb and Westminster Towers baker Rhonda Steele learn to make Black Forest cookies (below).

By Mario DeLuca, Westminster Communities of Florida Director of Dining Services

Cookies, muffins and cakes never tasted so good — introducing the new Gold Medal box-scratch program by Pillsbury, Westminster Communities of Florida's new baking partner!

You may remember the Pillsbury Doughboy, aka “Poppin’ Fresh,” that we all grew up on and enjoyed baking their products. As part of our dining program, we will now be offering fresh-baked goods made with this iconic brand to our residents.

To help us grow, Gold Medal sent their corporate baking partners, including Orlando baker Trina Gregory, to train the entire Westminster dining team in hands-on baking training in March! We made sweet potato coffee cake, Black Forest cookies, mint chocolate chip cupcakes and more, all using Gold Medal mixes and added baking ingredients.

 

Westminster Communities of Florida Wins 2 Awards in 2015 National Mature Media Awards Program

August 27, 2015

ORLANDO, August 27, 2015 — Westminster Communities of Florida was a winner in the 24th annual National Mature Media Awards Program. The program, presented by the Mature Market Resource Center, a national clearing-house for the senior market, recognizes the nation’s finest marketing, communications, educational materials, and programs designed and produced for older adults.

The Westminster Shores “Announcing Bay Breeze” marketing campaign received a Silver Award in the category of Marketing and Advertising Campaigns. The series of direct mail pieces and advertisements in St. Petersburg helped the successful launch of Westminster Shores’s new Bay Breeze waterfront independent-living building. We congratulate Westminster Shores Executive Director Michael Shaw and the Westminster Shores marketing and sales team for their work in the campaign.
“Why Hang a Picture,” at Westminster Towers, received a Bronze Award in the category of Marketing and Advertising Campaigns. This direct mail and advertising campaign provided a look outside the spectacular picture-view windows of this community in downtown Orlando. We congratulate Westminster Towers Executive Director Lin Ferrol and the Westminster Towers marketing and sales team for their work in the campaign.

Those involved with the art direction and design of the campaigns were Vice President of Sales and Marketing Nicole Muller, Director of Communications Wes Meltzer, and Graphic Designer Chris Ware.
“We were honored to be selected as a winner, among so many great entries,” Muller said. “Westminster Communities of Florida was delighted to take part in the Mature Media Awards Program this year.”

The entries were judged by a distinguished panel of mature market experts from across the United States for overall excellence of design, content, creativity and relevance to the senior market.

About Westminster Shores: Westminster Shores is an active senior living community overlooking the Tampa Bay’s Little Bayou. Our beautiful campus nestled along the waterfront combines neighborhoods of single-family homes and detached villas with newly constructed waterfront apartment homes. We have served senior adults in St. Petersburg for more than 60 years, with an emphasis on exceptional living options, whole-person wellbeing and Lifelong Learning, backed by a financially strong and Mission-inspired, faith-based community.

About Westminster Towers: Enjoy “Downtown Living At Its Best” at Westminster Towers, ideally located in downtown Orlando on the shore of beautiful Lake Lucerne. Our gardened, pocket campus offers beautiful residential choices in a high-rise building with spectacular skyline views. We have served senior adults in Orlando for more than 40 years, emphasizing exceptional living options, whole-person wellbeing and Lifelong Learning, and backed by a financially strong and Mission-inspired, faith-based community.

About Westminster Communities of Florida: Westminster Communities of Florida serves more than 6,000 residents in 19 active living communities around Florida who are in search of an enlightened, fully integrated, person-centered approach to health and wellness. Since 1954, we’ve been Florida’s best choice in active senior living.

 

Touching Lives Through Service: 2013 Report

September 26, 2014

Westminster Communities of Florida’s Mission is a mission of service to seniors throughout Florida, and that thread runs through everything we do.

As a faith-based, not-for-profit organization, serving the broader communities we serve is just one of the ways we can make an impact on the lives of those we serve. We provide benefits to the community in the form of housing, volunteer service, local partnerships, meeting space, hands-on training, clinical services, home care services, employment and service to low-income seniors.

Between our nine Continuing Care Retirement Communities in Bradenton, Jacksonville, St. Petersburg, Tallahassee, Orlando and Winter Park, we serve nearly 6,000 residents and more than 2,000 employees. Our residents and staff volunteers provided more than 200,000 hours of community service in 2013.

Our communities periodically prepare a Community Benefit Report, to celebrate these benefits. You can find these reports below for 2013, in PDF format.

Bradenton: Westminster Manor and Westminster Point Pleasant
Central Florida: Westminster Towers and Winter Park Towers
Jacksonville: Westminster Woods on Julington Creek
St. Petersburg: Westminster Palms, Westminster Shores and Westminster Suncoast
Tallahassee: Westminster Oaks

 

Breaking ground on Northpoint at Westminster Woods on Julington Creek

September 4, 2014

After a ceremonial turning of the shovels, construction set to begin on Northpoint, a new building featuring 25 waterfront apartment homes

ORLANDO, September 3 — Today executive leadership from Westminster Woods on Julington Creek and Westminster Communities of Florida participated in the ground-breaking and ceremonial “turning of the shovels” for our new Northpoint building, featuring 25 waterfront apartment homes with beautifully appointed amenities and finishes.From left: Janet Herron, Regional Vice President of Operations; Garry Hennis, Chief Operating Officer; Ray and Dorothy Noble, our first Northpoint depositors; Ron DeSantis, United States Representative; Dr. JoAnn Nolin, member of the Westminster Communities of Florida Board of Directors and professor of the University of North Florida; Cyndi Stevenson, St. Johns County Commissioner; and Nicole Muller, Vice President of Sales and Marketing. ROCKY TABYANIAN for WESTMINSTER WOODS ON JULINGTON CREEK

This addition to our active senior-living community is the latest phase in enhancing our Continuing Care Retirement Community, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in June. It signals the commitment of Westminster Woods on Julington Creek to continuing to serve senior adults in the greater Jacksonville community and to continuing to provide excellent choices in living options for today’s seniors. Northpoint is expected to cost $6.2 million, and we expect to select a contractor soon.

“We are thrilled to be celebrating the groundbreaking for Northpoint,” said Janet Herron, regional vice president of operations. “The addition of these apartment homes will help us continue Westminster Woods on Julington Creek’s 50-plus-year mission of serving senior adults.”

Chief Operating Officer Garry Hennis highlighted the contribution Westminster Woods on Julington Creek makes to the greater Jacksonville area. “This community’s 450 residents and 215 employees contributed 46,000 hours of volunteer service in 2013,” Hennis said. “Northpoint means that $6.2 million in investment will be generated for the local economy, with 25 waterfront apartment homes with beautiful views.”

“I believe that this is a sign that this area is moving ahead,” said Dr. JoAnn Nolin, a member of the Board of Directors of Westminster Communities of Florida and a professor at the University of North Florida. “Westminster Woods on Julington Creek does such a wonderful job of promoting wellness… It’s very important to age in a healthy and active environment."

U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis was one of the 10 individuals who dug up a ceremonial shovel-full of dirt. “I really appreciate how this community embraces an active lifestyle,” said DeSantis.

A rendering depicting the soon-to-be-constructed new Northpoint building. Northpoint will feature 25 apartment homes with stunning waterfront views, all with the fabulous active lifestyle and amenities that Westminster Woods on Julington Creek is known for.

“Thanks to the Westminster Woods on Julington Creek community for all that they have done for the St. Johns community,” said St. Johns County Commissioner Cyndi Stevenson, another attendee who helped dig up the earth.
After today’s ceremony, held at 10 a.m., construction is expected to begin shortly.

Northpoint apartment homes are still available on a limited basis. Only a few remain! For more information, contact Anne Dundes, Director of Sales, at (904) 287-7300.

About Westminster Woods on Julington Creek: Westminster Woods on Julington Creek is the natural choice for active senior lifestyles, ideally located on the shores of Julington Creek, a half-mile-wide tributary of the St. Johns River. Our beautiful, wooded campus of nearly 90 acres combines neighborhoods of detached villas and garden and waterfront apartment homes. We have served senior adults in St. Johns County and Jacksonville for 50 years, with an emphasis on exceptional living options, whole-person wellness and Lifelong Learning, backed by a financially strong and Mission-inspired, faith-based community.

About Westminster Communities of Florida: Westminster Communities of Florida serves 6,000 residents in 19 active living communities around Florida who are in search of an enlightened, fully integrated, person-centered approach to health and wellness. Since 1954, we’ve been Florida’s best choice in active senior living.

 

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