Hard Work Pays Off: Adriana Cevallos Earns Bachelor’s Degree While Working Full-Time

Adriana Cevallos, the Administrator at Magnolia Towers, a rental retirement community in Orlando, has recently achieved a significant milestone by earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Polk State College in Winter Haven. Balancing full-time work with higher education is no easy task, but Adriana’s determination and hard work have paid off.
Alex Mookerjee, Executive Director of Housing and Rental Retirement Services, describes Adriana as smart, hardworking, and mission-oriented. “She’s also always looking to learn and do better,” Alex said. “I just really am so proud of her for doing this.”

After joining the Westminster Communities of Florida family in 2022, Adriana, who had a background in hospitality, decided to take on the dual responsibility of working as Administrator full-time while simultaneously pursuing her degree.

“It has been tough, I cannot lie,” Adriana admitted. “But I feel that it is a blessing that it’s finally done and that I was able to do it.”

Alex acknowledges the difficulty of working full-time in a position that requires being on call constantly. “We certainly work more than the hours say we’re supposed to work so it was quite an accomplishment,” Alex said.

Adriana made a commitment to Westminster to finish her degree, and she credits her success to her dedication and the support she received from her team and peers. “I received a lot of encouragement and love,” Adriana shared. “The position itself and the opportunity that Westminster gave me has been a blessing.”

Adriana’s accomplishment not only represents a personal triumph but also serves as an inspiring example for others. Since graduating, Adriana has been a source of support for her team, encouraging them to pursue career advancement opportunities and take advantage of resources for career advancement opportunities that Westminster offers including the Tuition Reimbursement Program and Team Member Scholarship Fund.

“Westminster offers the opportunity to grow and learn and they are always open,” Adriana emphasized.

“If you invest in your people it pays down the road,” Alex said. “The more we can do to invest in our people the better off we all are. Happy employees means happy residents.”

If you are interested in joining the team at Westminster Communities of Florida, serving seniors throughout the state, and pursuing your personal passion, explore the opportunities available at https://www.WestminsterCommunitiesFL.org/careers today!

Fitch Ratings Reaffirms Westminster’s A- Bond Rating

We’re pleased to announce that Fitch Ratings recently reaffirmed Westminster Communities of Florida’s A- bond rating, an excellent investment-grade rating that is a reflection of our commitment to good stewardship of our resources, as inspired by our Mission. In these challenging times, we’re proud to say a Westminster community is still a strong partner for the future for residents and their families and team members.

In the view of Fitch Ratings, Westminster’s strength is having sound operating principles and a diverse portfolio of communities. Fitch wrote, “The ‘A-‘ rating reflects the expected resilience of (Westminster Communities of Florida’s) financial profile through Fitch’s forward-looking scenario analysis, given its robust business profile, which is characterized by very strong revenue defensibility as a multi-campus, regionally diverse life plan community (LPC), and sound operating and capital metrics.”

View the entire press release below.

Celebrating Myrna and Merle Allshouse – A Legacy of Helping Others

The Westminster Communities Foundation is honored to recognize longtime residents Myrna and Merle Allshouse for a generous $50,000 bequest to the Suncoast community’s Benevolent Assistance Program. 

Myrna and Merle’s children, Kim and Scott, join us in celebrating this gift by sharing, “Our parents were deeply committed to the importance of community throughout their lives. It was that sense of community that brought them to Westminster. They were strong supporters of arts and education, values that were shared by many of their friends in the larger Westminster Suncoast community and particularly by those who were affiliated with the Academy of Senior Professionals at Eckerd College (ASPEC).  Through their gift, they wanted to provide the opportunity for others to have the joy and comfort they found in living in the Westminster community.”

Merle was a lifelong scholar and educator retired from Eckerd College in 2002. Upon his retirement, he continued to learn through classes at the University of South Florida in geology, politics and Florida history.  Known to his friends as a “gentlemen scholar” he was also an avid boater and amateur pilot.  Merle passed in April 2016 while residing at Westminster Suncoast.

Myrna succeeded in two careers, first as a mother to two children and then in the insurance industry.  In retirement she became a talented watercolor artist who often shared her passion by encouraging others to pick up a brush and paint alongside of her.  In 2021, she moved to Montpelier, VT to be closer to her family, but she fondly remembered her time at Westminster Suncoast.  Throughout their lives, Myrna and Merle most valued advocating for social justice, art and education, but their dedication to these values in retirement was truly inspiring. Myrna passed in September 2023.

The Westminster Communities Foundation received Myrna’s bequest in support of the Suncoast community. The Foundation provided $1.25 million last year in Benevolent Assistance for residents who have outlived their resources. Currently, more than fifty Westminster residents benefit from benevolent assistance support. Jeff Coates, Vice President of Philanthropy, said that “being able to help our neighbors and friends continue to live in their communities, regardless of their resources, would not be possible without the enduring support of caring, generous people like Myrna and Merle. We are eternally grateful for their support and the legacy they left at Westminster.”

To learn more about or donate to the Foundation contact: Tish Burke at (727) 867-1131

 Since 1974, Benevolent Assistance at Westminster Communities of Florida has been 100% funded by donors to the Westminster Communities Foundation.

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.

Women’s History Month: An Interview With Two Refugee Team Members

To date, Westminster Communities of Florida’s special program to employ refugees, in partnership with Lutheran Services Florida, has brought more than 40 new team members to our organization. The program began in 2021, supporting refugees from Afghanistan and Ukraine along with their families and children. In total, we have arranged housing for more than 100 people, and residents and team members have embraced them as members of the Westminster family.

This Women’s History Month, we are pleased to highlight the contributions of women to organizations like ours from all around the world. We spoke with Venus Raoufi and Lesia Yarova, two of the more than 100 people supported by the refugee program and new team members at Westminster Point Pleasant, about their experience and observations about equality in the workplace.

Venus Raoufi, Maintenance Assistant, Westminster Point Pleasant, and former law student in Afghanistan

Before the fall of Kabul, Venus Raoufi was studying to become a law student, and said that it was difficult to be a woman working and studying in Afghanistan. “You had to deal with… those who did not want women to study. Not just me, but all women who studied in Afghanistan were very worried about their lives,” she said.

When the Taliban stormed into Kabul, she and her family fled to Tampa Bay. Her brother , Noman, was a translator for U.S. and NATO armed forces.

After days of waiting and fighting for a spot on a U.S. military plane, then arriving in Virginia, – the Raoufi family was placed with Lutheran Services Florida, a resettlement agency in Tampa. The Raoufi family was the first family to be resettled by Westminster Communities of Florida, and she and her family of five siblings and their parents now work for Westminster Point Pleasant and Westminster Manor in Bradenton.

Venus said the residents and team members at Westminster Point Pleasant have helped her and her family get accustomed. “They gave us housing, work, and also provide us with ESOL classes, which is a really effective way for us to improve our lives and start a new life here,” Venus said.

Venus set aside studying law and began studying computer engineering at State College of Florida in hopes of becoming a computer programmer. “I would like to work producing video games,” Venus said.
As someone who fled her home country from persecution, Venus is acutely aware of how important the equal rights of men and women are. “It is so important that women and men should be treated equally, because if they are treated equally, they can work together and think about their future without any worrying,” she said. “You can also see the importance of education. Most people here are educated. In my country, most people are not educated. This difference is really big, because people who are not educated do not know about equality, they do not know how to treat people fairly and do not know the importance of education.”

“One of the problems in Afghanistan now is that no one raised their voices to gain their rights, and the Taliban can impose their rules on them,” Venus said. “If people in Afghanistan were educated, I think they would raise their voice to try to gain their rights.”

Lesia Yarova, Westminster Point Pleasant Housekeeper, formerly a television makeup artist in Ukraine
In Ukraine, before the war, Lesia was working as a television makeup artist in Kiev, her profession for more than 20 years. She and her son, Timofey, 9, fled the invasion along with millions of Ukrainians, and relocated to Bradenton thanks to Westminster’s partnership with Lutheran Services Florida.

Lesia said that before the war, in Ukraine men and women had the same rights. Being in the United States has shown her that there are still differences, and that there is still room for more equitable treatment in both countries. “One difference I see here is that men do not give flowers to women on March 8 [International Women’s Day], as is customary in Ukraine,” Lesia said. “They do that here on Valentine’s Day instead.”

Speaking with the aid of a translation app on her phone, Lesia said that the war has been nothing short of a tragedy for her home country. “Of course, for us all, it was a tragedy what happened in our country. I still want to cry, because our children saw and felt it for themselves, too,” said Lesia, looking somber.
Working at Westminster has been very different from working in television, but Lesia is grateful to team members and residents for helping her through it. “The work [as a housekeeper] is not easy, and this is very new to me. But I’m a new person in this country and I have found people very welcoming,” she said. “The people who work next to me play a huge role. They are very friendly and kind, as well as the residents here, they are also very nice.”

For Lesia, the hardest challenge is learning English. “Not speaking the language is very difficult, maybe the most difficult thing,” Lesia said. “Another challenge was to find housing, because it is very difficult here, it turns out, to find housing, especially if you do not have enough money for the first and last month’s payments.”

Lutheran Services Florida has been a tremendous aid to Lesia and her family, because the agency has someone who is Ukrainian and speaks their language, and can assist them with the American system of documentation and paperwork.

She hopes that the end of the war will allow them to return to their homes one day and go back to her profession. “For now, I am very appreciative for having a job and having housing, and for the support of Westminster,” she said.

Lesia noted that in some ways men and women are more equal in the United States than she had found in Ukraine. “For example, at my age, in Ukraine it would have already been difficult for me to find a job,” she said. “I really like that it is more equal here.”

Seniors live longer, better and more protected from COVID-19 at Life Plan Communities, according to new studies

The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for older adults. But new research from the National Investment Center shows that seniors who live in Life Plan Communities (LPC) were safer from the worst risks of COVID-19.

Residents of Life Plan Communities already live up to two years longer, according to research by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Age Well study conducted by the Mather Institute found that they are also healthier and more resilient.

New research from the National Investment Center (NIC), released Thursday, found that seniors who live in LPC were significantly safer from COVID-19 related deaths than older adults living in non-congregate residential housing at large. Read the study here.

So if you’re considering a Life Plan Community, you should know that making the choice to have a plan for life isn’t just a smart choice for your health and longevity. It’s also a choice that can help you live better.

The NIC study compared data on more than 2,200 Life Plan Communities across the United States. It found that residents in LPC were significantly less likely to contract COVID-19.

“When people talk about challenges safeguarding seniors during the pandemic, they are usually thinking about the experience of nursing homes,” said Raymond Braun, NIC’s president and CEO, in the report. “In reality, older adults weathered the pandemic differently depending on where they lived, their age, and their chronic conditions. Following the introduction of the COVID-19 vaccines, senior housing settings were about as safe as living in residential housing in the community.”

This is likely due to a combination of factors. For example, Life Plan Communities typically have more staff per resident than other types of long-term care facilities, a higher rate of vaccination, and more socialization opportunities.

This research underscores the importance of having a plan for life. For many seniors, life in a Life Plan Community provides the best possible setting for meeting their long-term care needs.

There are many reasons living in a Life Plan Community could lead to a longer lifespan. These communities, like a Westminster community, generally provide their residents with social and recreational activities, which can help reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness. Additionally, Life Plan Communities often have on-site healthcare facilities, which can improve residents’ access to quality care. They also create a supportive community environment that can help residents feel connected and supported.

The HHS study’s findings are consistent with other research on the benefits of Life Plan Communities. Previous studies have found that residents of Life Plan Communities reported higher levels of satisfaction with their overall quality of life than those in the general population, and that residents of an LPC were more likely to report good or excellent health than those in the general population.

These findings suggest that having a plan for life could be a key factor in promoting longevity. If you’re considering moving to a Life Plan Community, know that you could be making a decision that could help you live a longer and healthier life.

The Age Well study by the Mather Institute also provides strong evidence that Life Plan Communities are a valuable option for older adults who want to age well and live a healthy, active lifestyle.

There are many benefits to choosing to live in an LPC, like a Westminster community. You can enjoy an active and engaging lifestyle every day, maintenance-free living inside and out, while knowing that you have a plan for your future in place. Plus, our My W Life program for personal well-being emphasizes wellness of mind, body and spirit.

If you want to live better and longer, research shows you should choose a Life Plan Community. To learn more about the exciting benefits of living at a Westminster community, contact us today!

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