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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.

 

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!

 

Valentine's Day Kids Continue Annual Tradition

February 13, 2017

Originally published in the Northeast Journal.

For 7 years now, “The Valentine Kids” have made an annual visit to Westminster Palms, an active senior living community right here in Old Northeast. Over the years, the kids come bearing gifts of hand-made valentines, homemade cookies, candy and, most importantly, friendly faces, warm smiles and big hugs. 

The ringleader/mom, Sharon Kantner, who lives in Old Northeast, came up with the idea in 2011. She knew it would be a good life experience for her daughters to reach out to the seniors at Westminster Palms. Each year Sharon recruits additional children to join the troop of merry-makers. Over the years, 13 different children have made Valentine’s Day visits to the residents, and Sharon’s two daughters, Kate and Caroline, have always participated. The girls and their friends spend hours making beautiful and heartfelt valentines, always writing a personal message on each card.  

When the kids arrive, each year they take a photo in the lobby – and my-oh-my have they grown! Over the last seven years, the kids have visited with hundreds of different residents, always bringing smiles, laughter and love. They leave behind goodies, handmade valentines and sweet Valentine’s Day memories.

First group of Valentine's Day Kids in 2012.

 

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

 

Westminster Palms volunteer named Volunteer of the Year

July 17, 2013

Orlando, July 16th, 2013— She logged 547 hours as a volunteer at an active-living community in one year. She’s been part of eight major initiatives as a volunteer. She received not one but four nomination letters. And she doesn’t even live in the community!

Westminster Palms and Westminster Communities of Florida are thrilled to announce that Lillian Liston, a non-resident volunteer, has been named LeadingAge Florida’s Volunteer of the Year for 2013.

Ms. Liston received the award Monday at the LeadingAge Florida annual convention at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. She has been a volunteer at Westminster Palms for just one year, but she has touched the lives of many of our residents and staff in so many ways that her service is exemplary. After she received the award in Orlando, Ms. Liston said, “I’m just honored to represent Westminster Palms and all of the other worthy volunteers there. As a volunteer, what I appreciate most is that I also get to visit with people.”

From May 2012 to May 2013, Ms. Liston logged an average of over 10 hours per week, according to Director of Volunteers Anne Osborne. She contributed in resident services, maintenance, therapy, assisted living, the Health Center, holiday celebrations, memorial services and anywhere else she has been able to make a positive impact.

The Push the Button campaign to check residents’ call buttons is her favorite volunteer activity. “I love the days when we do Push The Button,” Ms. Liston said. “I always tell the residents, you can’t hide from me — I’m here to test!”
She teaches a class on card-making, which is much-loved by our residents, and the results are beautiful, according to Alicia Nespeca, activities coordinator at Westminster Palms. “Not only has she started this class, which has brought so many people together to interact and make beautiful cards, but she also comes in prior to class to help a resident who is making a scrapbook with old family photos,” Ms. Nespeca said.

Ms. Osborne said, “I cannot imagine how we had previously gotten by without her support… Lillian’s commitment to Westminster Palms has been steadfast and far-reaching and has had an impact on literally every resident in our community.”
The whole Westminster Palms community appreciates Ms. Liston — as Resident Lifestyle Facilitator Ken Snyder said of our super-volunteer: “Lillian is one of a kind! She helps weekly with the beading class, and volunteers for almost every special program.”

We are very proud to have Lillian Liston as Volunteer of the Year, and we’re so thrilled with the contribution she’s made at Westminster Palms.

Contact: Wes Meltzer, Director of Communications
Westminster Communities of Florida
wmeltzer@wservices.org or 407-839-5050 x283

About Westminster Palms and Westminster Communities of Florida:
Westminster Palms and Westminster Communities of Florida are proud of our heritage of providing excellent active living and health care communities since 1961. Westminster Communities of Florida is a faith-based not-for-profit organization with a Mission of serving older adults and persons with special needs, and nation’s eighth-largest not-for-profit provider of senior housing. Westminster Palms is a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) in St. Petersburg’s Old Northeast neighborhood, with an emphasis on active lifestyles in a distinctive location steps from downtown and the Tampa Bay waterfront.

 

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