Florida Presbyterian Homes is now Westminster Lakeland!

We are pleased to announce that Florida Presbyterian Homes has joined the family of Westminster Communities of Florida, a fiscally strong, financially sound organization that is Florida’s largest not-for-profit provider of senior living. Learn all about the Westminster family and Westminster Lakeland today!


NaNoWriMo: A Challenge for Budding Novelists

If you’re an aspiring novelist looking for a challenge, this is your month! National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) began November 1 and offers the perfect opportunity to challenge yourself to complete a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. By taking part, you can gain valuable skills and join a thriving community of creatives. At Westminster Communities of Florida, we believe that lifelong learning and experimenting with new creative endeavors and skills is an invaluable part of a well-rounded lifestyle. Read on to learn more about how National Novel Writing Month came to be, its benefits and tips for getting started.


NaNoWriMo began in 1999 with 21 participants who completed their novels and created a new tradition. Since then, the event has grown exponentially, bringing together over 400,000 people internationally who collectively write their novels.
For many aspiring authors, the event provides an opportunity to test their creative skills, build confidence and contribute to a community of writers sharing experiences and providing support to others during the month-long process.


NaNoWriMo gives you the chance to challenge yourself in ways that may not have been possible before. Push yourself outside of your comfort zone by trying new ideas, techniques, or genres as part of the project. If you set achievable goals, you’ll get the satisfaction of seeing what you’ve accomplished quickly – something that isn’t always easy when working on longer projects.
Additionally, many local communities host write-ins throughout the month where writers come together to encourage each other’s progress and share advice about their own writing process. If you’re looking for an exciting way to challenge yourself creatively this November – consider participating in NaNoWriMo!


Writing a novel in 30 days is an ambitious goal, but with the right preparation and tools it can be a manageable feat. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Set a Goal: Before you begin, decide how many words you would like to write each day and stick to it. Be realistic about what you think you can achieve which will help keep you motivated and on track.
  • Create a Comfortable Writing Space: Find somewhere you can focus and have your materials easily accessible. This may be at home or in a public space. Make sure that your environment has minimal distractions allowing you to make the most of your time.
  • Utilize Online Tools: There are plenty of resources available to help keep track of word count goals, organize ideas, take notes, brainstorm plots, research topics, stay focused and more! Utilizing these resources can greatly improve efficiency all month long.
  • Connect With an Online Community: Connect with other NaNoWriMo participants. Join online forums and discussion boards to ask questions about any challenges you experience along the way, share successes and inspire others to keep going!
  • Take Regular Breaks: Taking breaks from writing helps clear your mind so that when you return to work on your novel again, fresh ideas will come more easily.

Whether you’re a seasoned writer or a complete novice, National Novel Writing Month is a great opportunity to test your creative skills, build confidence and connect with a community of like-minded individuals. So what are you waiting for? Sign up today and start writing your novel!

5 Halloween Themed Snacks to Make With Your Grandkids

If you’re spending this Halloween with family, especially the youngest members of your family, why not spend quality time together making special holiday themed snacks? Try one of these adorably spooky snacks below with your family this year!

Skeleton Gingerbread Men

Find the recipe for these little guys on olivemagazine.com

Dark Chocolate Orange and Black Cookies

You can get the recipe for these black and orange cookies on simplyhappyfoodie.com

White Chocolate Covered Ghost Strawberries

This fun twist on a classic can be found on madeitateitlovedit.com

Brain Rice Krispy Treats

A little spooky, a lot of fun, find out how to make these on bakewithamy.com

Chocolate Pretzel Spiderwebs

No spiders required for these webs! Learn how to make them on whitegunpowder.com

What to Know About Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids

If you are experiencing hearing loss, you may be wondering if over-the-counter hearing aids are a good option for you. Until recently, the only way to get a hearing aid was to go to a hearing health professional and get a prescription. Now, adults 18 and older with mild-to-moderate hearing problems can find a more cost-effective solution with over-the-counter hearing aids.

If you are experiencing hearing loss, it’s important to see a professional audiologist to get the help you need. A qualified provider can complete a diagnostic hearing test to determine the best way to improve your hearing. This will help rule out any complex ear conditions that can sometimes cause hearing loss including infections, earwax buildup or injuries, all of which can’t be fixed by hearing aids.

With complex conditions ruled out, consumers can buy these devices directly. Here is a brief overview of what you need to know about over-the-counter hearing aids, including who they are right for, what types are available, how much they cost, and where you can get them.

1 – What’s the difference between a prescription hearing aid and an over-the-counter device?

Over-the-counter hearing aids are available without a medical exam, prescription, or professional fitting. These “one-size-fits-most” devices provide a basic level of hearing correction and may be sufficient for some people. While prescription hearing aids are more expensive, they will be able to treat the nuances of different types of hearing loss better with more sophisticated technology. They may also be a good choice for someone who has tried an over-the-counter option without success.

2 – What types of over-the-counter hearing aids are there?

There are two types available: self-fitting and non-self-fitting. Self-fitting devices come with adjustable settings that allow users to customize the device’s sound output according to their own individual needs and preferences. Non-self-fitting devices come preloaded with a few predetermined sound settings and volume control. Overall, both types have their advantages and disadvantages, so it is important for consumers to understand each option before making a decision to get the most out of their device.

3 – Will over-the-counter hearing aids be the same quality as prescription hearing aids?

When it comes to hearing aids, the quality of the device is of utmost importance. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates all types of hearing aids and has set minimum standards for safety and effectiveness that must be met by both over-the-counter and prescription devices. This means that when you purchase an over-the-counter device, you can be sure that it meets strict safety regulations and provides a certain level of sound amplification. However, there will likely be differences in appearance, style, features, and sound quality between over-the-counter devices and those prescribed by a professional audiologist or other qualified provider. Be sure to do your research and read user reviews for information about battery life, warranties and return policies offered.

4 – How do costs compare for over-the-counter hearing aids?

Over-the-counter hearing aids are typically much less expensive than traditional prescription hearing aids, with some models costing as little as a few hundred dollars. The cost of prescription hearing aids varies widely but can run anywhere from $2,000 to $7,000. Compare prices of the over-the-counter options as well as the features among different models to find the best value for your money.

5 – Where can I get an over-the-counter hearing aid?

Over-the-counter hearing aids are available in pharmacies including CVS and Walgreens, some big box stores like Wal-Mart and Best Buy, as well as online.
Acclimating to wearing hearing aids takes time and practice. You should wear your hearing aids frequently to become accustomed to their features and how to adjust the program settings to suit different listening environments. If you find that you are not getting the benefits you expected from your over-the-counter hearing aids, consider consulting with a hearing health care professional, such as an audiologist, otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat doctor), or hearing aid specialist.

Stay Mentally Sharp for a Bright Future

Each week, anywhere from 12-20 residents at Westminster Woods on Julington Creek, our Life Plan Community in Jacksonville, meet to exercise their minds as well as their bodies. Fitness Coordinator Jeri Jo Fox leads residents in stimulating exercises aiming to maintain their mental agility. Staying mentally sharp is a key component of leading a healthy life, and it’s never too late to start.

“Just because I’m the fitness coordinator, it’s not all about me teaching physical fitness,” Jeri Jo said. “Brain fitness is just as important.”

Westminster Woods on Julington Creek isn’t the only Westminster community mixing brain health exercises into their daily activities. Brain health programming can be found at each of our Life Plan Communities throughout the state emphasizing the need to exert different areas of the brain and maximize its potential as we age.

For years, Jeri Jo has been incorporating brain fitness exercises into her physical fitness classes. She completed hours of research, connected with experts, and created her own curriculum full of exercises involving finger manipulation, coordination and a combination of physical exercise and brain stimulation. Today she leads residents through a 12-week program called Total Brain Health. Through puzzles, games, creative endeavors, and even physical activities, residents are challenged both mentally and physically in order to stay sharp. The science-based, expert-designed curriculum offers simple exercises for cognitive wellness and details why these exercises are beneficial for brain health.

“There are so many things that are related to brain health for a successful quality of life,” Jeri Jo said. “I’ve seen after COVID the people who did not socialize or exercise, part of them just shut down. There’s so much that you can control, so why not incorporate it?”

During class residents are given worksheets and handouts to coincide with the brain games and workouts to highlight which area of the brain they’re working and to further develop social skills, but the lessons are varied.

“Every week is a different lesson so residents aren’t going to fall behind if they miss one or two or three,” Jeri Jo said. “You start off with a physical warmup with your hands and your feet, and everything you do you’re counting backwards or forwards or saying the alphabet, so you’re warming up your brain.”

Jeri Jo noted that she has some very healthy and very independent residents attending the Total Brain Health class, but that the program extends beyond just independent living residents.

“This is the one class some of my more physically challenged independent residents can attend. They might not come to balance class, but they really look forward to this,” Jeri Jo said. “I took that same exercise to the health center because they can do it! Even if they are sitting in a wheelchair, they can still participate in a brain game.”

Residents tell Jeri Jo they notice the effects and feel better. “They look forward to this and they like the challenge,” she said noting she’s seeing benefits herself leading the class through these exercises. “I feel like my mind is clearer and sharper because I do this stuff.”


By exercising your brain either at home or at a Westminster community, you strengthen the neural pathways in your brain, which can help to improve your memory, attention, and problem-solving skills. November is Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and if you can’t be there to participate in Jeri Jo’s Total Brain Health class in person, she offered some ways you can get a brain workout at home to improve your brain health and reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive disorders.

  1. 1. Read out loud for 15 minutes each day.
  2. 2. Write. If your hands don’t work well use your computer and type or write for 15 minutes each day. Write a letter, or write a story, write a summary of your day, write what you’re grateful for – just write!
  3. 3. Socialize. Connect with others. In order to have a conversation with somebody, you have to remember what they said, you have to pull from your memory and find the vocabulary.
  4. 4. Challenge your brain through a mentally stimulating exercise or by doing a game against the clock. Something that is new and novel is desirable to your brain.
  5. 5. Eat well, stay hydrated, sleep and exercise.

When you choose to live at a Westminster community, you’ll have access to a plethora of well-being opportunities to exercise your mind and body. Learn more about the lifestyle you can enjoy and find the community near you today!

Nourish Your Brain: 5 Superfoods to Keep You Healthy

Do you want to keep your brain healthy and age gracefully? Eating the right food can make a big difference. We’re exploring five superfoods that can help you do just that. From fish to dark chocolate, read on to learn how you can incorporate these brain-boosting foods into your diet and reap the benefits of a healthier brain and body.

1. Fish

Fish are among the most important sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for brain health. Omega-3s have been linked to improved cognitive health in several decades’ worth of research. Those who eat fish regularly tend to have more gray matter in their brains containing the nerve cells responsible for decision making and memory. Omega-3s can be found in a variety of fish including salmon, sardines, mackerel, tuna, anchovies, herring and trout among other fish. A diet rich in omega-3 fats may help lower cholesterol levels, reduce inflammation throughout your body and promote muscle growth – all important aspects of staying healthy into our later years.

2. Berries

Berries are a superfood for brain health and healthy aging, with research linking regular consumption to lower risk of type 2 diabetes and heart attack plus possessing some brain-protecting qualities. The antioxidants found in berries can help protect the brain from oxidative stress and inflammation, which can lead to cognitive decline as we age. Studies have shown that eating blueberries in particular may help improve memory, motor skills, balance and coordination. They’ve also been linked to improved moods and increased alertness.

Including berries as part of your daily diet is easy: try sprinkling them over your breakfast cereal or adding them to a smoothie for an extra boost of flavor and nutrition. Alternatively, you can simply enjoy them as is for a simple snack or dessert. Frozen berries make a great option too – just be sure to check the packaging for added sugar content before buying!

3. Leafy greens

Leafy greens are an essential part of a diet for brain health and healthy aging. Green vegetables like spinach, kale, chard, and collard greens are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other phytochemicals that have been found to be beneficial for cognitive health. They are also high in folate (or vitamin B9), which plays an important role in brain development and function.

The fiber content of leafy greens helps regulate glucose levels in the body by slowing down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream after eating carbohydrates. Fiber also supports cardiovascular health. Whether you enjoy them steamed or raw (in salads), adding more leafy greens into your daily diet is one way you can help ensure your brain stays healthy now and into the future.

4. Turmeric

Turmeric is a popular spice commonly used in Indian cuisine, and it has been gaining recognition for its many health benefits. This deep-yellow spice is packed with antioxidants that help to protect the brain from damage caused by free radicals. It also has anti-inflammatory properties which can help reduce inflammation in the body and brain, while also protecting against age-related cognitive decline.

In addition to its neuroprotective effects, turmeric also helps to support cardiovascular health and helps regulate blood sugar levels – two factors which are important for optimal brain function. It is safe to consume daily either as an ingredient in food or as a supplement form (always check with your healthcare provider before adding any new supplements). Adding more turmeric into your diet on a regular basis could be one simple way to ensure you are getting all the benefits this powerful spice has to offer.

5. Nuts

Nuts provide a wealth of essential nutrients that help to protect the brain from damage, reduce inflammation, and improve cognitive function. Nuts contain healthy fats which can help reduce levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood, thus improving heart health. The antioxidants found in nuts also have anti-inflammatory properties which may contribute to improved memory and concentration.

Nuts are also a great source of protein and fiber, both of which play an important role in maintaining good mental health. A diet high in fiber is associated with lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, obesity, and depression – all conditions that can affect brain health negatively over time. Eating just one or two handfuls of mixed nuts per day can significantly improve alertness and concentration throughout the day. Having a few servings each week will go a long way towards keeping your brain healthy now and into the future!

Enjoy Life to the Fullest with Nutritious Foods

Eating these superfoods regularly will help you achieve a healthier brain and body, allowing you to age gracefully and enjoy life to the fullest. Don’t feel like preparing these nutritious, brain healthy foods yourself? Residents at Westminster Life Plan Communities enjoy café style, grab-and-go and restaurant-style dining, all with nutritious and seasonal menus. Our talented dining team members design delectable menus highlighting seasonal, locally grown ingredients, and find opportunities to highlight cuisine from all around the world. Learn how you can enjoy our menus and find a community near you today!

Beat the Heat This Summer with Our Vocational Dimension of Well-Being

Westminster Communities of Florida believes that to be “well” you must consider the entire being: body, mind and spirit. We offer residents and team members an active and engaging lifestyle inspired by eight dimensions of holistic wellness. All summer we’ve been highlighting how you can take advantage of each of the eight dimensions of wellness to stay cool and active during the summer months, from physical well-being to spiritual wellness.

This final week, we’re focusing on our vocational dimension of well-being: staying active by finding new and fulfilling opportunities to remain engaged in our lives. Making use of your skills and abilities is a great way to stay engaged and active throughout the summer.

Keep up with your hobbies in the great outdoors — safely

Do you love to paint, bird-watch or take photos? Stick with them through the summer months, avoiding the peak of the heat: Paint en plein-air or bird-watch in the cool mornings. But keep in mind that it isn’t spring, and it’s important to stay safe and hydrated. Be sure to check on the local conditions before you go, and always bring a buddy or a group to stay safe. Don’t forget your water and sunscreen!

Try something you love but haven’t done before

Find a way to stay engaged in the summer months by finding something completely new. Is there something you’ve always wanted to try but have never had the chance? The great indoors offers tons of opportunities: Learn to cook something new, take a pottery class, or even study a new language. Doing something different can help you gain new skills, meet new people and have a great time doing it. No matter what you choose, make sure it’s something that excites you and pushes you out of your comfort zone.

Become an art expert or a book collector

Libraries and museums are a great way to stay engaged in pleasant, air-conditioned spaces. Have you always wanted to read Anna Karenina or become an expert in Van Gogh’s unique paint strokes? You can find the engagement and resources you need to learn, with expert librarians and museum docents, who’d be happy to engage.

If you’re already an expert in these matters, consider volunteering at these organizations! You can lead a book-study group or even volunteer to be a docent yourself.

Help someone else out

During the summer months, the kids are out of school. Do you have a passion for teaching, subject matter expertise or a desire to help kids in need? Consider tutoring opportunities, help out at your local Big Brothers and Big Sisters club or inquire at your local school or public library about volunteer opportunities.

If you find you’d rather help adults in need, support furry friends, or help entrepreneurs launch new businesses, there are a variety of ways to lend a hand and be productive while staying indoors.

How to do it

You have a variety of fun ways to gain new skills, make use of your passion and meet new people while making a positive difference. But in the summer months, it’s important to stay safe.

Don’t forget our other tips on beating the heat this summer, emphasizing all eight dimensions of My W Life wellness. Learn all about it and find the Westminster community near you this summer and fall!

‘God put us here for a reason’: Serving the residents during Hurricane Idalia is part of our Mission

When a hurricane or tropical storm threatens Florida, like Hurricane Idalia this week, team members at Westminster Communities of Florida have a top priority: Ensuring the safety and well-being of the residents we serve. Our Mission is to serve from the heart and inspire older adults to enjoy happy, healthy and purposeful lives.

What impact has Hurricane Idalia had? Some of our dedicated team members are living out our Mission, today, by evacuating with residents or sheltering at their communities through the storm. Regardless of their normal jobs, their principal responsibility right now is to provide for the residents’ needs.

Today we caught up with five of these team members to learn about their experiences, why they chose to stay at their community or evacuate with residents, and what is inspiring them to stay hard at work during a storm.

Jackie Walker Ellison, Cook, Westminster Shores, temporarily at Westminster Winter Park

In St. Petersburg, Westminster Shores was forced to relocate residents out of the path of the storm. Jackie Walker Ellison always knew she would be with the residents, from the moment she first heard. “The residents said to me, ‘Jackie, are you coming with us? I know we’ll be OK if you come with us.’ So I had no doubt,” Ellison said. “I knew for sure I would be evacuating, I called my husband and my mother and I told them, ‘I’m going with my residents, I’ll see you whenever.’ ”

The group of 24 residents was accompanied by Ellison to Westminster Winter Park, where they’re enjoying the hospitality of the residents and team members there. The Westminster Shores team is occupied with providing for the needs of the residents during Hurricane Idalia. “I think it brings everyone together as a team,” she said.

Ellison has worked at Westminster Shores for 29 years, and “I love my residents. I wouldn’t have been here so long if I didn’t love this place and my residents. God put us here for a reason,” she said. “Right now, the residents are happy, we’ve been watching movies and playing games, and everything is going smoothly.”

Michele McCann, Assisted Living Activities Coordinator, Westminster Palms, sheltering in place

“I choose to be with the residents during the most emotional time, like a hurricane, because that’s my quality as a caregiver,” said Michele McCann, Assisted Living Activities Coordinator at Westminster Palms. “Challenging times like this bring out the best in people, and I get to see it and share it.”

McCann was sheltering in place at the community in St. Petersburg, along with residents from Westminster Palms and residents from Westminster Point Pleasant in Bradenton. She has lived in Florida for more than 7 years, and has experienced three hurricanes in St. Petersburg so far. McCann said she feels that the way the team bonds, whether through an evacuation or sheltering in place, makes the team stronger. “We are going to come out better on the other side of this! We always do. We are so lucky that we are here, in our home, together, instead of relocating like so many had to. I have come to feel like this is my home, too.”

Carlos Santiago, Maintenance Engineer, Westminster Point Pleasant and Tiffany Mestre, Administrative Assistant, Community Support Services, temporarily at Legacy Pointe at UCF

A group of residents from Westminster Point Pleasant were also with Maintenance Engineer Carlos Santiago and Tiffany Mestre, an administrative assistant at our Community Support Services office in Orlando. The residents had evacuated from Bradenton due to the risk of storm surge and flooding, and were enjoying the hospitality of Legacy Pointe at UCF.

Santiago, the maintenance engineer, said that he had been through the worst in 2017 when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico. “We were there with no power for 60 days, and we weren’t able to do anything,” he said. By comparison, he felt that everything was under control and being well maintained for the residents through both of his hurricane experiences as a Westminster team member.

“This job is personal for me,” Santiago said. “The residents are my family and I want to make sure that they are well taken care of.” In 2022, Santiago was recognized as Westminster Point Pleasant’s Team Member of the Year for his dedicated service to the residents. He said it was his honor to serve the residents.

Evacuating with the residents is just another extension of his commitment to the community, Santiago said. “This is my second time evacuating with the residents, and it doesn’t matter how many more. I will always volunteer to be there for them. We are here for each other and for the residents.”

Countless storms had also affected Mestre, a Florida native. But she had never had an experience like today’s. “It’s wonderful to help the residents and hear about their interests and stories. This is a great way to see how the residents live,” Mestre said. “I am getting to know what a day in the life of a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) and an ADON (Assistant Director of Nursing) are like. It has opened my eyes. Bless their souls for doing all of this.”

The effects of the storm had been mild in Orlando, but Mestre said that nevertheless, she and the residents felt more secure and had been brought closer together by the experience – and the residents were thankful for the security. “This has really brought our Mission to life for me in a way I had not experienced it,” said Mestre.

For Santiago, part of living in a hurricane zone meant more practice – and that he had found that the team is getting stronger through the experience. “The more we do this together, the more we become comfortable with each other, and the better organized we become. When you send a group of people together for one purpose and for our Mission, we get the opportunity to grow together and learn from each other,” said Santiago.

Beth Szabo, Services Coordinator, Riverside Presbyterian Apartments, sheltering in place

Another part of the Westminster Mission is to serve residents with low to moderate incomes, in our affordable Rental Retirement Communities. Beth Szabo, services coordinator at Riverside Presbyterian Apartments, was sheltering in place at the community to ensure that the residents were well cared for throughout the potential effects of the storm in Jacksonville.

“I’ve lived in Jacksonville since 1976, so I have lost count of how many hurricanes I’ve been through now. In 2004 they were coming so frequently we all said, ‘I’m over it, just let it go,’ ” said Szabo. “We have had to evacuate a few times over the years, like for Hurricane Matthew in 2016. But we did not have to this time.”

For Szabo, serving during a hurricane is a natural extension of her choice to work at the community, because the residents are like her extended family. “I have a heart for seniors, and the residents here mean a lot to me,” she said. “If something happens then I want to be here to help them.”

Szabo added that she feels safer riding out a storm at Riverside Presbyterian Apartments than at home. “Here at the community, I know that we have a great team looking out for everyone. We’re very small but we support each other.”

A facet of our Mission

While a hurricane is unexpected, serving the residents and supporting their fellow team members wherever we are and however we can is just another facet of the Mission of Westminster Communities of Florida: We serve from the heart and inspire older adults to enjoy happy, healthy and purposeful lives.

Be sure to learn all about how you can make a Westminster community your home to live or to work – find a community near you or follow us on Facebook and on LinkedIn!

Westminster Communities of Florida enters into affiliation agreement with Florida Presbyterian Homes

Life Plan Community in Lakeland, Fla., will become part of the not-for-profit organization with 23 communities throughout Florida

ORLANDO, August 25, 2023 — Westminster Communities of Florida, the largest not-for-profit senior living provider in Florida, has entered into an affiliation agreement with Florida Presbyterian Homes, a Life Plan Community in Lakeland, Fla. The agreement is contingent upon various state and federal approvals.

Westminster Communities of Florida will make Florida Presbyterian Homes part of its mission and ministry of creating and preserving excellent residential and health care communities. The community will benefit from the expertise, fiscal strength and stability of the nation’s 11th-largest not-for-profit senior living organization.

Westminster Communities of Florida Chief Executive Officer Terry Rogers said, “We’re honored and delighted to be welcoming Florida Presbyterian Homes into the Westminster family, and to extend our mission of service to their residents.”

The two organizations have much in common, including a shared mission of service to our residents. Westminster’s mission is to serve from the heart and inspire older adults to live happy, healthy and purposeful lives. As faith-based organizations serving older adults, our mission is at the core of all that we do, including emphasizing well-being and active lifestyles, honoring each individual’s dignity and independence, and good stewardship of our resources. Westminster Communities of Florida is pleased to hold an investment-grade bond rating of A- from Fitch Ratings.

Rogers said that Westminster is continuing to seek partners for other potential affiliations. “We have a saying that ‘bigger isn’t better, stronger is better.’ We have expanded our mission over our nearly 70-year history to more older adults through affiliating with other quality mission-driven organizations. Our family of communities is stronger together.”

Joe Xanthopoulos, Chief Executive Officer of Florida Presbyterian Homes, said, “This affiliation makes perfect sense for both organizations. Florida Presbyterian Homes has long held and well-deserved positive reputation here in Lakeland, one of the fastest growing cities in the country. This affiliation with Westminster positions our organization to best meet the needs and ambitions of present and future residents for decades to come.”

The affiliation agreement is contingent upon receiving approvals from federal and state agencies. Management by Westminster Communities of Florida is anticipated to begin in September. Details of the transaction have not been released.

Florida Presbyterian Homes and Westminster Communities of Florida look forward to continued service to our residents and furthering our shared mission of service.

# # #

About Westminster Communities of Florida: Westminster Communities of Florida is a faith-based, not-for-profit organization serving more than 7,000 residents in 22 communities throughout 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.

About Florida Presbyterian Homes: Since 1955, Florida Presbyterian Homes has been serving older adults seeking high quality living options, life enriching programs and services, best in practice long-term and rehabilitative care, and an array of exceptional resident amenities, all at our beautiful Lake Hunter campus. Florida Presbyterian Homes is a not-for-profit life plan community whose ministry is to serve older adults from all faiths with holistic, compassionate care and support in maintaining independence and achieving greater wellness.

Pursuing Personal Passions with the Team Member Scholarship Fund

This fall, more than 1 million students will attend Florida’s colleges and universities, with the many associated costs. The average student will borrow more than $7,200 each year to attend college. For Westminster Communities of Florida team members and their family members, however, a few minimum requirements and an application are all that stand between them and access to educational aid to pursue their educational goals.

Each year, Westminster’s Team Member Scholarship Fund provides more than 75 scholarships to team members throughout the state and raises more than $150,000 to support team members now and in the future.

“We have money! We have over $100,000 to distribute and we want to get rid of it,” said Ray Petty, chair of the Team Member Scholarship Fund Committee at Westminster Suncoast, our Life Plan Community in St. Petersburg.

The committee has approved nine scholarships in the last 12 months at Westminster Suncoast, just one of Westminster’s 10 Life Plan Communities. Other communities have many participants too: In 2023 alone, the Team Member Scholarship Fund distributed almost 60 scholarships and just shy of $110,000 of educational aid state-wide. In Orlando, a Certified Nursing Assistant at Westminster Towers is attending the registered nurse program at City College Orlando; Westminster St. Augustine’s Social Services and Admissions Director is taking on a Ph.D. program at Keiser University; and a Dining Server at Westminster Shores is pursuing a degree in psychology at St. Petersburg College, all with the help of the Team Member Scholarship Funds.

These funds are generous tax-deductible gifts made by residents wishing to express their appreciation for team members. Their donations provide financial aid for qualified team members to engage in post-high school educational studies at local universities, colleges and professional training centers. The scholarship also extends to family members who are financially dependent on the team member.

Registered Nurse Gabina Jean was introduced to the Team Member Scholarship Fund when her daughter Gabriella started college. Gabina has been caring for patients in the Rapid Recovery Unit at Westminster Woods on Julington Creek, our Life Plan Community in Jacksonville, since 2012, and after utilizing the fund to assist with her daughter’s college education, Gabina was encouraged to apply for the scholarship herself by one of her co-workers.

Today, both mother and daughter are pursuing advanced degrees with assistance of the Team Member Scholarship Fund. For Gabina, a Master of Science in nursing with a specialization in psychiatric mental health nursing from the University of St. Augustine, and for her daughter Gabriella, a degree in health sciences from the University of North Florida, with plans to graduate this fall. Combined they have received more than $20,000 to further their education from the community’s Team Member Scholarship Fund.

Gabina said the support of her fellow team members, supervisors, scholarship fund committee members and residents has been incredible. “The people at the community that donate the money, they come to me and say, ‘I’m so glad to see that the money I gave is helping you!‘” Gabina said.

The funds are unique in that the scholarships are not required to be used for the benefit of the organization; instead, the money is allocated to meet the educational interests of the team member.

“We approve something that the team member wants, not something that Westminster Suncoast wants,” Mr. Petty said. “In other words, what they’d like to study is what we provide the scholarship for. For example, we had a lady that did nail science and she’s having a ball with it!”

For many, receiving the Team Member Scholarship is a jumping off point for them to pursue their personal passions.

“One of the team members who works in the kitchen is getting his degree in physical therapy,” Mr. Petty said. “We also had a young lady who is a CNA (Certified Nursing Aide) who wanted to become a phlebotomist. She had to go to a special school here in Pinellas County which prepares them for the phlebotomy exam, and we paid for that. There are only 15 people admitted to the program and there were 50 applicants and she got in.”

“I feel like it’s an easy process,” college senior Gabriella said about her time applying and reapplying for the scholarship over the last three years. “There’s two short essays, three prompts, you fill out your information — it is easy to apply.”

What stands between team members and the scholarship is the application process, and having been through it multiple times, team member Gabina encouraged her coworkers to take the plunge and apply.

“I keep telling people about the scholarship, my coworkers and everybody, and most of them are afraid of the process,” she said. “Don’t overthink it. Just go and do it! Start the process and ask questions. There’s always somebody that is going to help you.”

The support for team members extends beyond financial support for recipients of the scholarship. At Westminster Suncoast, they try to pair recipients with team members or residents who have experience in the area they’re studying.

The same support resonates at our Life Plan Community 217 miles away at Westminster Woods on Julington Creek. Gabina recounted how Elaine Goleski, chair of their Team Member Scholarship Fund committee, stays in contact and routinely reaches out to offer encouragement. “She’s very involved,” Gabina said. “Residents and team members, everybody follows up! For me they are very supportive.”

At Westminster Communities of Florida, we recognize and encourage our team members’ pursuit of personal passions. With the Team Member Scholarship Fund, the 2,700 team members throughout the state and their families have the opportunity to pursue their educational goals and further their careers without the financial burden.

To join the team at Westminster Communities of Florida, serve seniors throughout the state and pursue your personal passion, find the opportunity that suits you today at https://www.WestminsterCommunitiesFL.org/careers!

Beat the Heat with our Community Dimension of Well-Being

Living in a community brings many benefits to our lives, from fostering meaningful connections to providing a sense of purpose and belonging. It is also important to consider how our lifestyle and choices impact our community, both environmentally and socially.

This week, we’re exploring the community dimension of well-being and showing how you can thrive in your community this summer. At Westminster Communities of Florida, we strive to provide our residents with opportunities to make their community a part of their well-being. From understanding and valuing how your personal lifestyle and choices impact our community to introducing ways to embrace community every day, we’re diving into how to make your community a part of your overall well-being.

Be dedicated to making the community your home.

Being part of a community is a fundamental part of well-being. Creating meaningful connections with others and feeling like you belong somewhere helps to foster personal growth and improve your overall well-being. That’s why we believe it’s so important to dedicate yourself to making the community your home. Investing in your local area by getting involved in local activities, volunteering, or joining community groups can all help to create lasting relationships with those around you and fill your life with purpose.

It doesn’t stop there either; getting involved in community activities provides an opportunity for people to come together and celebrate common goals, values, and beliefs. Studies show that participating in communal activities results in increased feelings of satisfaction and contentment—so it’s no surprise that dedicating yourself to making your community your home has such positive effects on mental health.

Understand how your personal lifestyle and choices impact our community.

It is important to recognize that the choices we make as individuals have an impact on our community, both environmentally and socially. We must be mindful of how our lifestyle and choices can affect the well-being of others in our community and take steps to ensure that we are creating a safe, healthy environment for everyone.

On the environmental side, small changes in lifestyle can have a big impact. Simple things like buying local produce or using reusable containers instead of disposable plastics can help reduce pollution and waste in our community. We can also choose to use public transportation or carpooling when possible or walk or bike instead of driving for short distances. These small changes add up to create a cleaner, healthier environment for everyone in our community.

Socially responsible actions are equally important when it comes to community well-being. Participating in local events such as clean-up days or fundraisers helps build social cohesion within the neighborhood and strengthens connections between members of the community. Additionally, supporting local businesses helps foster economic growth and development within the area which benefits everyone in some way.

At Westminster Communities of Florida, we provide scheduled transportation, reducing the number of cars on the roads. Our dining teams source local farmers markets for ingredients used in our dishes, and even use fresh herbs and vegetables grown in our resident-cultivated gardens. Residents have plenty of chances for social interaction from volunteering and putting together backpacks filled with school supplies to donate to local students in need, to holding events featuring goods from local businesses, our communities are a great place to support the local community.

Ways to embrace community every day

We all have the power to make a positive impact on our community every day. It’s as simple as choosing to be conscious of how we interact with those around us and to take an active role in bettering our neighborhood and city. Here are some practical tips to embrace community every day:

  1. Get involved: Participate in local events or join a club or organization that works towards making your community better. This could include volunteering at a food bank, cleaning up your local park, or helping out with an animal rescue organization. Not only is this beneficial for the people around you, but it also gives you an opportunity to meet new people and explore new interests.
  2. Shop locally: Choose local stores over big chains whenever possible to support small businesses and keep money circulating within the community. Buying locally-made products also helps reduce environmental costs associated with large-scale production and transport of goods from other places.
  3. Give back: Donating time or money to causes that are important to you is a great way to make a difference in your community without even leaving home! Whether it’s donating items that can be reused or recycled, giving money directly to charities, or providing mentorship through volunteering opportunities—everyone can make an impact no matter their financial means or availability of time.

Strive to make an impact in your community

Taking steps to embrace your community every day can have a positive effect on your well-being. At Westminster Communities of Florida, we recognize the importance and provide our residents with opportunities to get involved, frequent local businesses, and give back.

When you choose to live at a Westminster community, you’ll have access to opportunities and programming with all eight of our dimensions of well-being in mind, including supporting our local community. Learn more about the lifestyle you can enjoy and find the community near you today!

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Contact Information

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