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Francis McGill

Family Connections at Wake Robin

By | Blog

Among the core Wake Robin values is Difference: Honoring the diverse backgrounds and worth of those who live and work at Wake Robin. Our twenty-seven-year history illustrates why so many interesting people, from various walks of life and professions, choose to call Wake Robin home. Many prospective residents learn about the community through word of mouth – from friends, colleagues, and even some from their very own brother or sister.

According to a 2015 resident-published Trillium newsletter, Wake Robin siblings made up more than five percent of the entire resident population. Five years later, the number of siblings on campus has increased and now includes an aunt-niece duo as well as a mother-daughter pair!

Wake Robin attracts families for simple, important reasons. It was founded by a grassroots organizations made up of friends and like-minded people. Furthermore, Wake Robin’s long-term health care model – which provides a continuum of care for all residents – provides a sense of security and peace of mind to residents and their extended families.

Family Values From the Beginning

The first set of siblings arrived when Wake Robin opened in 1993. An “original” resident, Ruth, who is now 102, shared a large corner apartment with her sister Frances; two more brothers moved in the year after. David, Ruth’s younger brother, was the last sibling to arrive in 2008. “My siblings took me by surprise. We put a deposit in way back with them,” David said, “and all of a sudden – whoa – everybody’s moving in!” David and his wife Dee followed in Ruth’s footsteps because they appreciated the healthcare model and culture of Wake Robin.

Brother and sister David and Libby 

Wake Robin empowers residents to be independent or engaged as much as they choose to be. David and Libby loved learning about different cultures and shared a passion for the arts. They even collaborated on a “Teaching about Inca Culture” course at the University of Vermont, where some of the students never even knew they were brother and sister! When David joined Wake Robin, he got involved right away with organizing events and participating in the chorus. Libby, on the other hand, values the community for its solitude. As a professional writer, she’s able to gain inspiration from the natural setting as she finishes working on a memoir and book of poems.

For Ginny and Betsy, Wake Robin has been the place to truly catch up. Ginny lived in Ohio for thirty years but always considered herself a Vermonter. “It was a homecoming when we came here,” she said. Her younger sister Betsy, who moved in three years after her, feels like she’s deepened her relationship with Ginny. “I love the small things about being neighbors. I make Ginny her favorite BLT sandwiches and we dine together and have a laugh when we want.”

Best Friends: Mother and Daughter Living at Wake Robin

Mom and daughter, both Wake Robin residents

The latest Wake Robin family connection formed just this summer when Jackie moved in two floors below her mom, Marjorie. They make the first mother-daughter pair! “She’s my best friend,” Jackie said. “Before, I attended events with her, so I got a chance to really get to know the sense of community here at Wake Robin.” The active culture resonated with both daughter and mother. They walk the trails together and both are very fond of woodworking.

Wake Robin invites all personalities and interests into the community. Joining the community means starting a special chapter in one’s life, inspiring healthy living among neighbors, friends, and as we’ve seen, even family. As another sibling Ellie stated, “it’s been absolutely the right place for us and I’m am so glad that my brother is once again a part of my neighborhood!”

 

Wake Robin Introduces Outdoor Summer Concert Series

By | Blog

Wake Robin has always played host to a wide variety of programming. Residents are getting accustom to more webinars and virtual presentations. Gradually, activities and events have been transitioning to outdoor spaces. The Farmers Market is a popular Thursday occasion, and residents can now practice socially-distanced yoga on the new back deck of the Community Center. Even during these nutty times, creativity continues.

The McClane musicians

One important part of Wake Robin culture – live concerts – was missing and yearned for. Now, staff and residents have collaborated to provide a safe way to enjoy musical performances. And it only took a few weeks to bring the idea to life.

Program and Events Coordinator Jena Necrason and the resident Music Committee brainstormed a solution. They designed a program called “Summer Concerts in the Park(ing Lot)!” which is set in the Community Center parking lot, affording ample space for socially-distant seating. The concerts take place every two weeks on Thursdays, with the alternate weeks serving as rain dates. The shows feature many artists that previously had to cancel indoor performances.

Steve M, a resident co-chair of the Music Committee, appreciated the community coming together to advance the project. “The WRRA (Wake Robin’s Resident Association) was crucial for making this happen, and they were very generous with their support,” he said.

With seatting appropriately spaced and audience members masked, pianist Annemieke Spoelstra McClane and accordionist Jeremiah McClane gave the first concert on July 16th to much acclaim. “People are really enjoying the shows,” said Steve M.

Health Center Residents enjoying the concert

More concerts are lined up for the rest of the summer. Necrason has partnered with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra to bring two VSO affiliated shows to campus; then the Craftsbury Chamber players perform, and a Dulcimer and Harp duo round out the series, which finishes on September 10th.

The second performance

The concerts are a breath of fresh air.  Necrason, who independent of Wake Robin also runs the Vermont Shakespeare Festival,  reflected on programming in time of Covid-19.

“It is a refreshing return to live events and the community-driven culture of Wake Robin.  With physical distancing and safety protocols in place we can still enjoy time together and a live arts event.  Seeing the residents smiling and relaxing in the beautiful evening sunset of Vermont summer, all while listening to professional musicians play, is a joyous thing!”

Staff Honor Residents in Campus-Wide Parade

By | Blog, Events

Wake Robin is a grass roots organization. The community is “resident powered” which means residents participate in what Wake Robin does and how it operates. For instance, Maple sugaring was started by a few passionate individuals, and now it is a major part of Wake Robin’s culture.

That same grass roots attitude can be applied to staff as well. From all departments, staff are encouraged to share ideas and practices that reflect Wake Robin’s mission to create a “sustainable dynamic community.”

It’s no wonder then that a brainstorm from an Environmental Services employee blossomed into a full-on parade. A Housekeeper named Carrie hatched a plan to connect with residents. Some services normally provided on a routine basis, like housekeeping, are currently suspended due to Covid-19 precautions. “So, we wanted to find a way to stay to show our support,” Carrie said. “At first it started with wanting to make a banner telling the residents ‘We Miss You.’ Then the idea grew and grew, and it turned into a parade!”

As soon as Carrie shared the idea, many jumped on board to help. Weekly meetings were held to plan logistics, and a date was set. Costumes and props were encouraged, and staff came out in all sorts of colors! A Marketing Associate was amazed how the swift coordination streamlined into a delightful event. She described the procession as “fun, joyful, and community-oriented.”

Staff wanted to reach as many residents as possible, so the parade was mapped out to include the whole campus. Employees from Dining, Environmental Services, Health Services, and Administration gathered at the bottom of Wake Robin Drive to decorate their cars with messages of support and to get into costumes.

There was quite a variety! A staff member from Environmental Services wore colonial garb, a staff member from Administration wore butterfly wings, and a group from Dining Services dressed up as bananas and strawberries! To elevate the parade procession, an amplifier was attached to a car and played upbeat tunes and crowd-pleasers like “Hear Comes the Sun” and “I Wanna Dance with Somebody.”

The audience of residents came prepared, too. Many lined the sidewalks banging pots and pans and waved their hats high in salute.

One resident summed it up perfectly: “An absolute spectacular show of appreciation. The staff was having so much fun creating this and pulling it off for us. We are so lucky to have a staff that is happy and willing to pitch in wherever and whenever, beyond their call of duty. It’s always with a smile, a kind word, and with dignity!”

Program and Events take Innovative Approaches During Time of Covid-19

By | Blog

Staying at home doesn’t mean you have to confine your curiosity.

As Wake Robin has followed Governor Scott’s “stay home, stay safe” orders, Program and Events Coordinator Jena Necrason has been creatively engaging residents and providing high-quality content.

It starts by casting a wide net. Necrason probes the internet for offerings from the world’s most esteemed institutions, such as the Metropolitan Museum and the Lincoln Center, and each week she provides links for residents to access virtual tours and shows. Popular cultural resources have included performances from the English National Ballet, conversations from the Tribeca Film Festival, and a Great Courses Class on the history of France.

“It’s all about creative pivoting into virtual offerings,” Necrason says. “The possibilities are endless. Just this past week we hosted a webinar for residents and depositors with award winning journalist and best selling author Garrett M. Graff.  This one webinar allowed the viewers not only to virtually attend an interesting lecture on his book The Only Plane in the Sky; An Oral History of 9/11, but also allowed for participation in an engaging discussion with Graff himself.”

Necrason also works with the Resident Association to provide footage for Wake Robin’s community channel, broadcasting films recommended by the Movie Committee, and archival footage from performances and lectures at Wake Robin in the past.

Staying Connected

Connection is key, and it prompted Necrason and Resident Services Coordinator, Gretchen Roberge, to create “Coffee Connections”, a weekly virtual chat with residents where conversation is open ended and pleasantly unpredictable. For example, during a recent session, a long-time resident discovered a connection with a new resident’s grandmother.  Consequently, they both were founding residents back in 1993!

Added Motivation to Get Outside

As spring fully blossoms, residents are encouraged to get out doors and explore the wooded acres of the campus. To that end, Necrason has started a fun competition: The Spring/Summer 2020 Walking Challenge…Walk to Niagara Falls! Not literally of course, but until the end of August residents record their steps taken and those who go the distance and hit 375 miles – the distance to Niagara – are then entered in a drawing to win some wonderful prizes. Already, 50 residents have signed up for the challenge, and a mantra has been circulating around the Wake Robin campus: “Win at health.”

Wake Robin leadership is being very mindful of how to safely and appropriately ease restrictions during this difficult time allowing for outdoor opportunities such as yoga and small group wellness classes.  As one resident mentioned, “we always look forward to discovering what creative programming alternatives are in store for us…on an individual basis and the community as a whole.”


Update from Health & Resident Services Director Meagan Buckley

By | Blog, News

Dear Friends of Wake Robin,

From the beginning of the Coronavirus outbreak, Wake Robin has been focused on creating and implementing a fluid plan of prevention for our community. We have moved forward while consistently gathering information from multiple resources to review, revise and implement future planning with the objective of keeping this community safe and sound. I am pleased to say that as of this writing there are no cases on campus. We feel very fortunate, yet realize, we must continue our vigilance for the well-being of our campus. 

Health Services show their love for the residents.

Communication of our plan has been key. Our regular updates that go out to residents and their families offer an inside look of what is happening in the community as we respond to any new developments.

During this past month, there have certainly been difficult times … after all, who would have thought the campus would ever need to be secured with programing, events and even dining temporarily halted. However, it is amazing to witness the strength of each individual, who call Wake Robin home, meet to this challenge.

Residents are engaged in a variety of ways. In the Linden Health Center, just this past week, the residents have recorded over 16 hours of video chatting with their families. Equally important, residents are interacting and having fun in creative ways. We have music in the courtyard, virtual meetings for committee work and over 60 residents are participating in an Independent Living-Health Center Pen Pal program.

I am also happy to share that residents feel well cared for and have expressed to me that they consistently witness staff doing everything they possibly can for the residents’ well-being. The staff are all fully aware that this is a group effort and they continue to be mindful of how to help and support the residents as well as each other.

Around the community there are all kinds of encouraging signs.

I can’t thank staff enough. They show up every day with courage, spirit, and humor, and they are working in ways like never before, collaborating with other departments and rising to each and every occasion. It’s remarkable to witness. I am proud to be able to work alongside them and be part of their team.  

Stay safe….stay well!

Sincerely,

Meagan Buckley, LNHA

Director of Health and Resident Services

Staying Positive During Isolation and Social Distancing

By | Blog, News

A resident and her teddy bear video chat with a grandnephew from Maryland

A blog post by Wake Robin Physical Therapist Alexis Mittelstadt

The isolation precautions from the Coronavirus pandemic have certainly changed our daily routines and many experts warn of the risk of feeling isolated and lonely. The widely accepted guidelines for decreasing stress from isolation involve taking care of yourself and putting your wellness first. This means: practicing mindfulness via meditation or prayer; exercising; and regularly keeping in touch with friends and family.

Wake Robin is a community full of creative and innovative minds so I thought I might enter in a few of my own “offbeat” ideas and you can all take it from there!

 

  • If you have a balcony or patio, take a note from the Italians for an impromptu outdoor concert or performance!
  • Have a Facetime/Facebook/Skype/speakerphone “happy hour” with a friend or family member.
  • Call 3 people you haven’t talked to in a “LONG” time. I did this and reconnected with 2 people I hadn’t talked to in years! Yes, it was a little awkward at first, but we got through it and it was great to catch up!
  • Make signs of encouragement, funny quotes, funny messages, etc. out of found objects (paper/fabric/compostable containers/etc.) to hang in your window for passersby to enjoy.
  • Call the kids and grand kids…most of them are probably home.
  • If you have a grand kids, ask what they are learning that day. Perhaps you will learn something new!
  • Pet the cat or dog a little longer…some say it can lower stress and anxiety. Probably depends a little onyour pet’s personality ?.

 

A resident doing in-home yoga with a campus-wide broadcast

Whatever the right fit is for you…find it! We’ll all be eager to reconnect once this is over!

 

Welcome Martha Maksym as Wake Robin’s new President and CEO!

By | Events, News

The Board of Directors at Wake Robin, Vermont’s first lifecare community, have announced that Martha Maksym will succeed as President and CEO following Patrick McKee’s
retirement from Wake Robin next month. The Board of Directors, Wake Robin residents and staff thank Mr. McKee for his five years of dedicated service to the community, and are pleased to begin the next chapter with Maksym as leader. Martha began her tenure as Wake Robin’s President and CEO in January 2020.

“Martha Maksym comes to us with a strong background in the skills and outlook that are a close fit with Wake Robin’s traditions and culture,” said Eric Hanson, chair of the Board of Directors at Wake Robin. “Over the course of her impressive career, Martha has demonstrated her commitment to community on all levels. Her background of proven service makes us very excited to welcome her to Wake Robin.”

Wake Robin’s President and CEO, Martha Maksym

Prior to accepting the position as Wake Robin President and CEO, Maksym was the Deputy Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Human Services. Martha spent 22 years at United Way of Northwest Vermont, the last five as Executive Director. She was also formerly Executive Director of the Green Mountain Prevention Projects.

Maksym has deep roots in Vermont, spending her entire career with Vermont organizations after earning undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Vermont.

Following an intensive, nationwide search for a CEO, Wake Robin’s Board of Directors and leadership staff are confident that Maksym’s combination of past experience and dedication to community values make her a perfect match for the top leadership role, and are pleased to welcome her to Wake Robin.

Wellness Philosophy and Active Aging at Wake Robin

By | Blog, News

By Program and Events Coordinator Jena Necrason

This quote by playwright George Bernard Shaw expresses something deeply connected to the joy we find in living and inspires us to keep our spirit of play as we move through the stages of our lives.

We hope that we can inhabit our body with an energetic mind that helps us fulfill our true potential. We hope to give our mind the gift of a body that is strong and resilient.  The synergy of mind and body helps us continue to embrace wellness, even when the going gets tough.

Working as Program and Events Coordinator here at Wake Robin has taught me many new things about active aging.  As part of the team who oversees all wellness programs and fitness spaces on campus, we keep asking two questions:

Is this an innovative way of looking at things?

How can we continue to push ourselves to embrace new and engaging trends in active aging wellness?

people exercising on gym machines

Residents working out on the new Keiser training machines

In December of 2019, Wake Robin opened a new Fitness Center.  Our new space offers diverse options for residents to have their Wellness needs met right here on our beautiful campus. Our Strength Studio is full of state-of-the-art Keiser Strength Training equipment.  Our Cardio Area includes numerous machines ranging from a NordicTrack Spin Bike with technology that connects the user to online workout sessions both at gyms and in spectacular outdoor locations around the globe, to recumbent bikes that support a more rehabilitation-focused workout or a low-impact exercise session.

We look for ways to offer continuing education opportunities as part of our wellness program. Interactive workshops that demonstrate equipment use, ideas for progression of exercises, and how to use newer-trend handheld equipment are a fun way to encourage confidence and motivate residents to use the new space. This initiative is key to offering residents the opportunity to see themselves as active participants, break down barriers, and find community around wellness.  Our goal is to demystify the conversation, so our residents feel included and curious to know more.

Residents are excited to find, or re-connect with, their most-healthy self and this can lead to increased fitness levels, sharper brain health, and a boost in social engagement. Empowered by knowledge and basic building blocks, residents start to envision the Fitness Center as part of who they are.

This is an exciting time for Wake Robin. We are ready to meet the future in health and happiness and just as importantly, with a continuous spirit of play.

Therapy Department Welcomes a New Fitness Expert to the Team!

By | Blog, People of Wake Robin

Georgia Goodrich has thirty years of experience in the healthcare industry. From acute and skilled care, to outpatient work, she has a broad perspective on how physical therapy can improve the lives of people in all walks of life.

a woman smiling

Physical Therapist and Fitness Instructor Georgia Goodrich

An avid outdoors adventurer, Georgia grew up in Montpelier and loves all things snow: snowshoeing, cross country skiing, down hill skiing. You name it! That penchant for exercise may help explain why she’s such an enthusiastic fitness instructor. “I love getting input and feedback to keep making the programs better,” Georgia says.

Georgia joined the Therapy Department because she knew it to be a great team. Additionally, she was interested in working one-on-one with residents, which is what the Pathways Program offers. The values of Wake Robin were equally as important in attracting her to the position. “The overall concept of wellness at Wake Robin encompasses the whole individual and what their needs are,” she said.

Georgia is focused on improving people’s activities of daily living here at Wake Robin. She is an American Council on Exercise (ACE) certified trainer, and she now teaches a strength and conditioning class in Wake Robin’s new fitness center.

Welcome to Wake Robin, Georgia!

Jeans Friday Donation Given to Feed Chittenden

By | Blog, News

At Wake Robin, every Friday is jeans Friday. What does this mean? Each Friday, staff is encouraged to wear their favorite denim, and in exchange, they contribute one dollar to a donation fund. The Jeans Fund started five years ago.

Three people standing in front of a sign

Wake Robin HR Director Anne Levesque donating over $2,419 to Director Rob Meehan, Community Engagment Coordinator Anna McMahon of Feeding Chittenden

Well, as Mr. Franklin said, “a penny saved is a penny earned.”

We are happy to announce that during the past year, The Jeans Fund has continued to grow to nearly $2,500. These funds are then donated to area organizations for the betterment of the local community and this year Wake Robin’s HR Director Anne Levesque presented the annual donation to Feeding Chittenden, the largest direct service emergency food provider in the state of Vermont.

Why Donate to Feeding Chittenden?

Anne summed up why Wake Robin donated to Feeding Chittenden with the following.

“Each year we take donation ideas from the staff. We then list them and ask staff to vote for their preference. In this process we also try to highlight organizations that align with our values.  At Wake Robin, we are aware of how food insecurity can be a challenge for Vermonters who work by our side, but struggle to make ends meet. Feeding Chittenden works at all levels of food production chain, matching Wake Robin’s commitment to Healthy Food in Healthcare, a national initiative to support food sustainability and promote a healthier food system.”

Men putting canned goods on a food shelf

Filling the food shelf at Feeding Chittenden

So, on a bright January afternoon, Anne and Media-Marketing Coordinator Francis McGill visited Feeding Chittenden, which is located on North Winooski Avenue in Burlington. They met with Feeding Chittenden Director Rob Meehan and Community Engagement Manager Anna McMahon. Rob and Anna gave the Wake Robin representatives a tour of the premises while highlighting the impact and reach of Feeding Chittenden’s programs.

Feeding Chittenden’s Impact

Feeding Chittenden not only serves the community but engages it. Its Community Kitchen Academy demonstrates this. CKA is a culinary job training program led by professional Senior Chef Instructor Jim Logan where students develop the professional and inter-personal skills they need to find and retain employment in the hospitality industry. The meals they prepare in the program are then used to fight hunger in the community.

Man slicing green beans

A CKA culinary student

Besides, the Academy, Feeding Chittenden feeds over 10,000 county residents through its Food Shelf, operates a “Good Food Truck” that goes directly to communities in need, provides groceries to homebound clients and rescues over one million pounds of food waste each year. 

Make a Difference

Like Wake Robin, you can make a difference by joining the fight against hunger. Give your hands and heart by volunteering, or host a food drive.

You can make financial donations to Feeding Chittenden here.