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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 Towers & Shores 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.

Westminster Retirement Communities Foundation 23rd Annual Art Show Opens Friday at Westminster Suncoast

May 26, 2017

More than 200 unique pieces on show at St. Petersburg active senior living community,
featuring artwork from seniors representing 7,000 residents, 18 communities

ST. PETERSBURG — The judges have spoken — now it's your turn to enjoy the unique and stunning artwork at the Westminster Retirement Communities Foundation’s 23rd annual Resident Art Show, opening to the public on Friday at Westminster Suncoast in St. Petersburg. 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.

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

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

The Resident Art Show opens Friday to the public at the Quak Center for Lifelong Learning at Westminster Suncoast, and will be open through Wednesday, May 31. Weekday hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and weekend hours are 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.

This year’s contest was judged by three St. Petersburg professional artists: Dr. Lynn Carol Henderson, professor of art at Eckerd College; Katie Deits, executive director of Florida CraftArt Gallery; and D. Yael Kelly, a local painter and St. Pete Arts Alliance board member. 

“The work that is shown here is truly professional-caliber work,” said Kelly. “The technique we see in much of these pieces, and the exuberance of the artists, stands out.”

First-, second- and third-place winners were selected in each category and are indicated with a ribbon at the show. “These are pieces where someone has put a lot of themselves into their artwork,” said Henderson. “We enjoyed the opportunity to experience these works.”

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

Kelly encouraged anyone who loves art to come and enjoy the show. “If you love art, you should be here,” she said.

To learn how you can attend, call Westminster Suncoast at 727-867-1131.

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 Towers & Shores (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

Westminster Suncoast Walks for Alzheimer's Awareness

November 15, 2016

Tracey Rickabaugh and the Westminster Suncoast team walk for a good cause.Westminster Suncoast is making a difference in the effort to raise awareness for Alzheimer’s. On Saturday, the active senior living community in St. Petersburg hosted their second annual Wellbeing Walk. This year, because November is Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, the event benefited the Alzheimer’s Association Gulf Coast Chapter - and raised more than $600 from donors and sponsors!

Amid a festive atmosphere more than 100 residents, staff and even family members, ages 2 months to 92 years young, walked three kilometers, with three laps on a one-kilometer course around the community. After the walkers rounded their final kilometer, Executive Director Mark Beggs and Volunteer Director Valerie Catchings presented Alzheimer’s Association representative Bernadette Homan a symbol of their efforts: An oversized check for the amount (plus the actual contribution).

As part of our exclusive My W Life program emphasizing wellbeing of body, mind and soul, Westminster Suncoast and Westminster Communities of Florida support the effort to raise awareness for Alzheimer’s. To learn more about the Alzheimer’s Association, go to their website at http://act.alz.org.

When It Comes to Community Service, We Don't Flip-Flop

August 15, 2016

The Westminster Suncoast team shows off some of the 700 pairs of flip-flops they collected. From left: Gail Holesha, Church Relations Coordinator; Elizabeth Hildreth of Bay Point Christian Church; Val Catchings, Director of Volunteers; and John Lefebvre, resident volunteer.

ST. PETERSBURG – A local ministry’s quest to provide footwear for a poverty-stricken village in Nigeria was fulfilled August 15 with the help of Westminster Suncoast residents and employees, who pitched in to donate 700 pairs of flip-flop sandals.

Elizabeth Hildreth had recently traveled with S.O.S. Ministries International to Makoko, Nigeria, more commonly known as “The Water Village,” and brought back a plan to help the villagers avoid infected wounds by bringing them sandals.

After Hildreth, who is married to Bay Point Christian Church’s Rev. Randall Hildreth, presented her idea at Westminster Suncoast in June, a team of resident volunteers and employees decided that they were going to make it a reality. One resident, John Lefebvre, led the residents’ donation drive, and set a goal of collecting 200 pairs of flip-flops. When he hit his goal, John kept going – and hit 600 pairs in late July.

“I get great joy from doing this,” John said. “I feel quite blessed to be able to obey God’s command to help your neighbor.”

Last week, Hildreth came to Westminster Suncoast to meet with Lefebvre, fellow resident volunteer Anna Garnett, Church Relations Coordinator Gail Holesha and Director of Volunteers Val Catchings. When she arrived, Hildreth was overwhelmed to learn there were 600 pairs of donated flip flops. “Thank you, thank you, again,” Hildreth said. “I am still in complete awe.”

By the end of the drive, on August 15, the community had collected a total of 700 pairs.

“I was overwhelmed by the generosity of our residents and staff. John Lefebvre graciously accepted donations and shopped weekly for flip flops,” Catchings said. “The Westminster Suncoast spirit, love and energy know no bounds.”

Westminster Suncoast thanks all the resident volunteers and staff who helped support this very important initiative.

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 Towers & Shores
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 Suncoast volunteers collect for U.S. troops abroad

June 17, 2013

ST. PETERSBURG — Westminster Suncoast continued its tradition of sharing its blessings and giving back to the community this year, as part of LeadingAge’s Homecoming Week 2013 effort to open our doors to friends, family and the community at large.
Volunteers, residents and staff members alike, at Westminster Suncoast conducted a collection drive throughout May to gather items of need for U.S. soldiers still serving abroad.

Spearheaded by our Chaplain, the Rev. Claudia Henderson, this collection involved the broader south St. Petersburg community. Westminster Suncoast’s volunteers worked with five local churches to collect items such as white tube socks, razors, wet wipes, beef jerky, toothpaste and coffee.

In addition, the community received many other food and non-food items. We gave these to the local church-operated food bank.

The collection effort wrapped up on Wednesday, May 29, with a celebratory sorting event where more than 50 volunteers joined to package up everything for shipment.

The community’s efforts even caught the attention of the Tampa Bay Times, who captured the efforts for local newspaper readers.

Everything collected will be transported to the local branch of the organization Support Our Troops, which collects items and ships them to the forward operating bases overseas.

At Westminster Suncoast, we’ve successfully conducted many charity drives in the past. We find it a great way to partner with other organizations in the community to really make a difference.

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

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