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!


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!


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.

Residents Share Stories in Moth-Style Slam Event

By | Blog, Events

It has to be true. It has to be told from your perspective. And, oh yes, you have to tell it live with no notes.

Those are the three main rules for Moth-style storytelling. Sounds intimidating, right? Nevertheless a group of Wake Robin residents learned the art in the Moth-style Storytelling Workshop as part of Inquire, Wake Robin’s lifelong learning this semester.

The workshop would culminate in a spotlighted live performance in Wake Robin’s brand new Meeting Room.

Discovering the Meaning of a Good Story

Sue Schmidt breaking down the composition of a story.

The workshops began in October and were led by comedic storyteller Sue Schmidt.

Sue is a master Moth storyteller and a big believer in the power of storytelling. As she writes on her website, stories “connect us to each other and define who we are, where we have been, and where we hope to go.”

Wake Robin residents gathered with Sue on Thursday afternoons and unpacked what makes a good story. For one: raise the stakes. What do you stand to gain or lose in your story? Perhaps of more importance: start with an opening line that takes hold of the audience’s imagination. Other key elements Sue stressed to her Wake Robin students included knowing your intention for the story and connecting with the audience through vulnerability.

Testing Boundaries

The storytellers performed in front of a packed crowd in Wake Robin’s brand new Meeting Room!

Many residents doubted whether they could perform live, worrying about remembering and properly delivering their tales. Some were much more comfortable writing down their stories and were challenged by translating them into spoken word. On top of that, there was a time limit, only 5 minutes per story.

During practice, residents kept honing their tales, and Sue, as a seasoned storyteller, had some well-informed advice – embrace your fear.

Performance Night

A Wake Robin artist delivering her slam story

Residents mustered the courage to share their tales live on stage. Alone in the spotlight, each one shared tales that moved the audience. Stories ranged from helping a cow in distress to a serendipitous cab ride!

After the cheers and applause, the Wake Robin storytellers stood on the stage with their teacher for a memorable photo.

Reflecting on the entire process, one workshop member commented, “It was a really great experience because afterwards everyone knew more deeply about the others. And that helps strengthen our community.”

Such is the power of storytelling here at Wake Robin.

To learn more about Moth storytelling, you can visit their website. 

The Moth-style storytellers and teacher Sue Schmidt.


What’s in a Name? The Origin Story of “Wake Robin”

By | Blog

Before Wake Robin became Wake Robin, it was just an idea of two visionaries.

They may not have known it in 1983, but Wake Robin founders Stokes and Mary Jane Gentry began planting seeds that, years later, would blossom into Vermont’s only nonprofit Life Plan Community.

The story goes like this.  Stokes and Mary Jane were returning from their 30th reunion weekend at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. During their stay, they visited nearby CCRCs that were guided by Quaker principles. The Gentrys were deeply impressed, and they both agreed that it would be “wonderful to have something like this in Vermont!” So began the challenging journey toward Wake Robin.

Entrance sign to the community

Back in Vermont, Stokes and Mary Jane gathered like-minded people to form the Founding Committee. The group of 32 people began conducting research, exploring the different models of CCRCs, and sending out surveys to gauge interest.

The Committee’s hard work paid off. They generated the Founding Principles which still shape Wake Robin today. Perhaps no more important was the first principle: “Belief in the dignity, independence, and worth of each individual.”

By 1985, the Committee received 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation status from the IRS. A series of important tasks lay ahead. But before they could get ahead of themselves, they had to name the nascent community.

From the recent publication, What’s Next? The Continuing Journey of the Wake Robin Life Care Community, by Lynn Bond and Jacqueline Weinstock, the origin story is chronicled as thus: “the Founding Committee devoted great care and much thought to naming their new nonprofit corporation.” The founding members connected strongly to nature and environmental values, and so they wanted to have a place-based name that correlated to the experience of the Vermont landscape.

Why the name Wake Robin?

The founders foreshadowed the emphasis we have on active aging today. For, in keeping with a naturalist approach, they selected “Wake Robin” as the community’s name. A red variety of the trillium plant, Wake Robin are among the first wildflowers that blanket the forest floor in spring. The founders were not interested in making this a retirement community, but rather, like the trillium plant itself, as a community of new growth.

The Wake Robin trillium, first sign of spring!

Wake Robin founding member Cathy Yandell, explained the name choice this way: “[We] felt that the bond between people and plants was indeed a strong one – that the carpets of trillium, white and red, together with the name Wake Robin could carry the message of spring throughout the year.”

So even as we approach the winter months, among residents there remains a strong conviction in growth and renewal. It is the essential Wake Robin way.

Recreation Services Continue to Expand Programming for Health Center Residents

By | Blog

A note from Wake Robin’s Recreation Services Manager, Andrea Longe, ACC/SMC, CDP

The Recreation Department continues to focus our efforts on customizing our cultural enrichment programs, both on and off campus. We have placed an emphasis on individualizing our practice and branching out beyond the Linden Health Center. We continue ongoing conversations with residents in Linden about their interests and develop programming based upon their response.

Many of the program additions are collaborative offerings that include the entire Wake Robin Community, because friendships should not be limited based upon the location of your home. We are very excited to offer more opportunities that include our friends in the Independent Living community and challenge the traditional health center/nursing home boundaries.

Group gathers outside historic house

Linden and IL residents touring the Hildene Lincoln Family Home

An example of these collaborative offerings is the recent trip residents took to Manchester, Vermont. We visited the Hildene Lincoln Family Home on a beautiful summer day for a guided tour and lunch. Everyone enjoyed the company and camaraderie.

So much of our well-being is based upon our social circles and our abilities to feel purpose. When facing a level of care change, the social self is often quite fragile. We see it as a necessity for us to continue to offer opportunities that stretch beyond a person’s limitations. Some of our most recent program additions have touched upon that very need, from a group of Linden residents who make sandwiches for Committee on Temporary Shelter, to a cohort who together each week take classes in The Great Courses educational art series.

A group makes sandwiches

Linden residents prepare sandwiches for COTS Burlington.

We are happy to share with anyone information about our initiatives. Please be in touch, and we look forward to speaking with you!

Andrea Longe, ACC/SMC, CDP
Recreation Services Manager (802)264-5149

Summer Fun Chronicles Part II

By | Blog, Events

Circus Smirkus Wows Linden Health Center Residents

The contortionist performers

Non-Profit Circus Arts Group Draws Oohs and Aahs

Wake Robin celebrated Carnival Day this month. The main event excited the entire Wake Robin Community, and a group of impressive young performers dazzled the resident audience. The group’s name? Circus Smirkus… and folks cannot stop talking about them!

What is Circus Smirkus?

Circus Smirkus is a nonprofit arts and education organization based in Greensboro, Vermont. Its mission promotes the skills, culture, and traditions of the traveling circus, and inspires youth to engage in life-changing adventures in the circus arts. Camp staff teach children of all ages (and even adults!) acrobatics, clowning, aerials, and much more.

Accordingly, participants of Circus Smirkus have a fun and unforgettable camp experience. We encourage you to view their Circus Smirkus Camp Experience video.

Juggling several batons

A Riveting Show in Wake Robin’s Juniper Garden

In the Juniper Garden on a beautiful summer morning, a troupe of youngsters performed several fantastic feats. There was juggling, flipping, dancing, and even human pyramids! The performers synchronized their every move, offered humorous dialogue, and simply delighted the crowd with their energy.

What is even more impressive, is that the road show performance is part of the summer camp series which lasts for only 3 weeks! The first half of camp is spent learning and mastering the routine while the remaining time is dedicated to area performances.


During the finale, the performers bowed to raucous applause. Each Circus Smirkus member announced where they hailed from; one teen lived close by, in Charlotte, while a couple of others grew up in Washington D.C. and Florida.

Afterward, the group of teenagers had a chance to introduce themselves and visit with residents.

Thanks to Recreation Services

Above all, Carnival Day created an atmosphere of cheer and conviviality. Both residents and staff enjoyed good company, good treats (think fried dough!), and a wonderful performance. We must thank Recreation Service Manager Andrea Longe, ACC/SMC, CDP, who coordinated the entire day.

Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post about future Linden Health Center programming!