|April 01, 2016||Woodland Pond Raises Money for American Heart Association's Local Chapter||no comments|
|April 01, 2016||Health Alliance and Woodland Pond Complete Planned Separation||no comments|
|December 21, 2015||Families in Need to Receive Gifts from Altruistic Seniors at Woodland Pond||no comments|
|December 01, 2015||Seniors Participate in Tai Chi, Water Aerobics, Chi Kung, Yoga and More to Stay Flexible and Main...||no comments|
|December 01, 2015||Woodland Pond Resident Shares Korean War Experiences and His Thoughts on Veterans Day||no comments|
|October 20, 2015||Woodland Pond to Host Kaleidoscope of Arts Show and Sale||no comments|
|August 31, 2015||Woodland Pond Residents Discuss Dating in Retirement and Celebrate Romance Awareness Month||no comments|
|July 23, 2015||Life Care Communities Ensure that Seniors Get Continuing Care at Lower Costs||no comments|
|June 24, 2015||Seniors Lead Bipartisan Political Affairs Committee at Woodland Pond||no comments|
|June 24, 2015||Seniors Showcase Extraordinary Gardens at Woodland Pond's Summer Garden Show||no comments|
The zealous residents and staff of Woodland Pond at New Paltz have been vigorously working to raise money for the Dutchess-Ulster Chapter in support of the American Heart Association’s annual fundraising campaign. Their efforts began last month and will continue until the end of this month. An estimated 83.6 million American adults have one or more types of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Of these, 42.2 million are estimated to be 60 or older. A couple weeks ago, the senior living community hosted an all you can eat five dollar pancake breakfast in the bistro where they raffled off fun prizes, all of which were generously donated by local businesses. Their last event was a hearty St. Patrick’s Day Bake Sale on Friday, March 18.
“It is heartwarming to see the residents and staff come together for such a wonderful cause,” said Sarah Hull, resident services director for Woodland Pond. “We have made tremendous headway in supporting our local American Heart Association chapter. Our goal is to raise $3,000 by the end of March. Last month, we made substantial progress toward our goal through our two pancake breakfasts, which netted an amazing $930.00. We also started an employee-focused effort that gave team members the opportunity to wear jeans for two weeks straight if they contributed $20 to the cause. This netted in an additional $565. We are getting closer and closer to achieving our goal!”
Woodland Pond has also placed buckets at both reception desks for people to donate their spare change. Wanting to give everyone the opportunity to donate via online outlets, the senior living community also has a team page where people may make contributions online. Those wishing to donate may do so by going to www.dutchessulsterheartwalk.org. From there they may select “Find a Team” and then type in Woodland Pond.
“Everyone has been so enthusiastic about giving back and making a difference,” said Michelle Gramoglia, executive director of Woodland Pond. “We are being spirited by wearing red and sharing news of all of the events we are doing with our families and friends. It is inspiring to see everyone come together for such a worthy cause. There’s no limit to what we can do as a team!”
In January, Health Alliance Inc., and Woodland Pond at New Paltz announced a plan to seek approval from the New York State Department of Health for a corporate separation. That approval has now been obtained, and along with approvals from a wide variety of stakeholders, the organizations have announced the separation is complete.
“This moment is definitely bittersweet for Woodland Pond,” explains Michelle Gramoglia, Woodland Pond’s former executive director, now president and CEO. “We are excited to move forward with our vision to improve and expand the services available to seniors in the mid-Hudson Valley. We could not have reached this point without the support of HealthAlliance, which helped our community establish itself as a leading senior residential and care provider.”
The separation means that while HealthAlliance was formerly the sole corporate member, or active corporate parent company of Woodland Pond, Woodland Pond will now operate as a self-sponsored continuing care retirement community. Health Alliance Inc., will carry on as the sole corporate member for a number of other acute-care organizations in the Hudson Valley and Catskills area.
Both organizations demonstrated that this change in ownership would not negatively impact either organization financially, operationally or from a governance perspective. For Woodland Pond especially, the focus of the stakeholders during this process was on financial stability and outlook in light of the separation.
In the early years, HealthAlliance provided financial support to Woodland Pond as the community opened and attempted to reach a level of occupancy that would allow its cash flow to be stabilized. Beginning in April 2012, Woodland Pond achieved sufficient occupancy levels to become self-funded, and cash flow support from HealthAlliance ceased. Occupancy levels are currently exceeding projections, and cash levels for operations and future needs remain stable, paving the way for the completion of this separation.
“This is a great day for Woodland Pond,” said HealthAlliance president and CEO David Scarpino. “Rather than just a separation, we see this move as a celebration of Woodland Pond’s coming of age and its passage to total self-sufficiency. Congratulations to its staff, its management and especially its board of directors. They have all done a magnificent job in steering Woodland Pond to this new chapter.”
Specifically, the Woodland Pond board, through this reorganization, has gained a number of powers formerly held by the HealthAlliance board. These include the ability to appoint the president and CEO and all board members, the ability to approve changes in ownership and the incurrence of corporate debt, and the approval of all operating and capital budgets. “We look forward to enhancing the role of our board,” says Beverly Finnegan, chairwoman of the Woodland Pond board. “We have taken our role as a board very seriously to this point, and are thrilled to take this significant step and assume the responsibilities that go along with it.”
HealthAlliance, for its part, is focusing on strengthening healthcare delivery for the residents of Ulster County. Strategies include a substantial investment to transform its Mary’s Avenue Campus in Kingston into a single, state-of-the-art hospital and to redevelop its Broadway Campus into a “medical village.” Once approved, the planned Mary’s Avenue and Broadway campus transformations will be the most comprehensive construction and facilities renovations and conversions in the 122-year history of the two hospitals.
Both organizations will pursue potential affiliations, as appropriate.
“I am confident that HealthAlliance and Woodland Pond will continue to support each other for many years to come in our visions of bettering care for our residents and improving the quality of life for many along the way,” Gramoglia adds.
For seniors that lived through the Depression era—and even through the most recent recession—going without, or with very little, is something they understand. This is a generation that grew up humbled by the experiences that shaped them. Feeling a sense of connection and comradery, residents at Woodland Pond eagerly gathered a myriad of gifts and donations for two local families in need who are participating in Family of New Paltz’s Adopt-A-Family program. Brightly colored toys, warm clothing, family games, music players, video games, jewelry, shoes and more have been heaped underneath the community’s holiday tree. For these altruistic seniors, getting these two families just one gift was not enough, so they splurged.
“You can actually see how giving back brings so much joy to the residents and how happy they become when thinking about a young, appreciative child opening a gift they hand selected,” said Sarah Hull, resident services director for Woodland Pond. “They put a lot of thought into the gifts and are pleased to help those in need.”
Between the two families, residents purchased gifts for a total of five children: a five-month-old, a two-year-old, a five-year-old, a seven-year-old and an eleven-year-old. The residents bought everything from baby toys to puzzles, Barbie dolls, action figures and electronics. The meaning of Christmas is true and dear to their hearts, and they enjoy spreading love, peace and joy. They hope that through their actions, the children learn how wonderful it is to help others in need when they have resources to share.
“The residents are not only happy to give the kids a good Christmas, they’re happy to ease the stress that comes from not being able to provide for one’s children on Christmas,” said Michelle Gramoglia, executive director for Woodland Pond at New Paltz. “Families can now focus on what truly matters without stressing about how they will make Christmas happen. We are happy to assist these families and spread some holiday cheer. We have a jolly bunch of holiday cheermeisters here within our community, and I am inspired by their generosity.”
Residents at New Paltz’s Woodland Pond are ageless, and they are not slowing down anytime soon. Even though most have retired, they are allocating their extra time to maintaining and improving their physical health, volunteering and engaging in social activities. Some of them are even leading fitness classes and encouraging others to get or remain fit. Priding themselves on being part of an active senior living community, residents and team members ensure that there are plenty of opportunities for fitness and social engagement. The resident-led classes add another dimension to the experience in the community, and they’re a nice complement to the classes designed by the life enrichment team. Dee Snowden, a Woodland Pond resident and former teacher and aerobics instructor, assists in leading the Strength Training Plus class.
“The Strength Training class was started by two other residents, and I started filling in for them and then eventually took over,” said Snowden. “I’ve recently incorporated other exercises that focus on flexibility and balance, hence the name change from Strength Training to Strength Training Plus. The class is predictable, so I call on participating residents to help lead it. I was an aerobics instructor for 20 years, mainly for older adults, so my experience helps me in leading this class. I understand that everyone has different physical needs and limitations. People can do the class as directed, all may modify and make adjustments as needed to be as effective as possible, ensuring they do not overdo it. It’s so important to stay as active as possible. If we didn’t stay strong and flexible we would not be able to do as much as we do.”
Snowden was a school teacher/educator for most of her career, and before she retired from teaching she decided to become a certified aerobics instructor. The class she currently leads at Woodland Pond lasts an hour and is held twice a week. The class combines upper and lower body work using free weights if people choose and other movements to improve flexibility and balance. In addition to leading the strengthening fitness class, Snowden participates in other wellness classes such as chi kung, yoga and tai chi. In the past she has also participated in chair yoga and water aerobics, both of which cater to a variety of physical needs and have been designed for a range of abilities.
“In addition to Dee’s class, we have a resident-led water aerobics class,” said Sarah Hull, director of resident services at Woodland Pond. “I have never seen a more active group of seniors. It is really inspiring. We have residents who meet regularly to walk or hike outdoors, and when it is cold, they meet indoors to take advantage of walking routes within Woodland Pond. One resident spent some time developing a variety of maps of different routes and distances for these indoor walks. We have residents that participate in all kinds of awareness walks, such as the Alzheimer’s Association Walk and the Heart Association Walk. Many residents walk their dogs year-round and use them for motivation to stay fit. Some swim laps in the pool, some residents ride their bikes, others jog on the treadmills and some simply strength train. In addition to exercise, residents engage in other types of physical activity like volunteering with United Way to pull weeds, wash chairs and organize its library collection. We provide numerous options to residents. Retirement should be fulfilling and rewarding in new and different ways.”
Wanting to keep her energy up and her body strong, Snowden leads an active lifestyle and makes a point to work out four days a week. She understands that it can be difficult to stay motivated, especially when you feel too tired. However, she noted that most people will state that they don’t feel like working out before the class, but by the end of it they feel better and are glad they did it. Snowden attributes her increased energy and stamina to working out regularly.
“In addition to participating in fitness classes, it’s healthy to be involved in other activities or groups,” said Snowden. “I volunteer to lead a singing activity with residents in the health center, which requires me to walk around and be active. I also attend a watercolor class, sing in the chorus, participate in committees, play cards and much more. Woodland Pond is highly diversified, and I feel we are all involved in one thing or another, some of us multiple things! Woodland Pond provides many opportunities, and residents that do participate benefit greatly. Residents are encouraged to maintain strength and improve balance to prevent falls. The best exercise program, whether it is something you do on your own or something you do with a group, is the one you enjoy most!”
“We have such a phenomenal group of residents within our community,” said Michelle Gramoglia, executive director of Woodland Pond. “The residents have done a wonderful job of creating and leading all kinds of special groups, classes, projects and committees. They put their heart, soul and energy into many things that make our community a better place and contribute to their personal wellness. Every day our calendar is packed full of interesting options that cater to seniors and encourage living an active lifestyle. We have discussion groups, foreign language classes, shopping outings, happy hours, workshops, movies, concerts, committees, dancing and more. I personally enjoy seeing the residents get involved in the wide variety of activities and take advantage of new things they may have never experienced before.”
Woodland Pond at New Paltz is home to more than 60 veterans. John Decker is one of them and is one of the few Korean War veterans, as many of the other veterans served during World War II. Veterans Day for Decker is a time of reminiscing and reflection, which he shared with fellow veterans at the community’s Veterans Day celebration. Earlier this year, Decker had the pleasure of reuniting with his executive officer, whom he had not spoken to in 60 years. The two met for lunch at Woodland Pond last summer and were featured in the senior living community’s monthly newsletter. On Wednesday, November 11th, Woodland Pond held a special day of recognition to honor veterans and their spouses. There was a display of honor in the Independent Living Lobby throughout the day, and a recognition program was held in the Health Center’s Great Room.
“It was incredible getting to see and speak with the executive officer whom I served under in Korea,” said Decker. “He called me out of the blue and we set up a time to do lunch. We enjoyed catching up, swapping life experiences and reminiscing about Marine Corps life in Korea. I had started out as a captain and retired as the rifle company’s commander. I had 250 men under me who had rifles and other heavy weapons. We set up camp as the war ended and were responsible for monitoring the prisoners of war as they were brought back and exchanged. These men were so happy to see us and to be back in American care.”
When the prisoners of war were returned to Decker and his men, many were malnourished, had been tortured or physically, mentally and verbally abused. Some of them came back with injuries they received from their captors and diseases from being detained in unsanitary conditions. Decker said it was humbling seeing those men crossing the line and rejoicing at their newfound freedom. Decker served in the active Marine Corps from 1953 to 1955 and was in the reserve until 1967.
“Veterans Day brings back a lot of memories, and we all share our experiences with one another,” said Decker. “We have men here who were prisoners of war, veterans who fought in major battles and even a man who was lost at sea for three weeks. It is mind-blowing to me, and I am thankful that I did not face similar circumstances. It is fascinating to hear how they survived. Veterans Day is the perfect time to remember what soldiers went through, the sacrifices that were made and the hardships that were endured. Even though my men and I arrived at war’s end in 1953, we served in Korea for two more years helping prisoners of war board boats returning to America. The summers were brutally hot and the winters were piercingly cold. There were no showers or toilets, and we had rats running over our sleeping bags at night. The living conditions were miserable, but you did what you were called to do. You did not have a say in your destiny. You just learned to follow orders.”
Many WWII veterans are in their 90s now, and Korean War veterans are not far behind. It is only a matter of time before we lose the opportunity to hear their stories first-hand. Decker believes that Americans should never forget any war or those who served. He feels that people should also pay tribute to the families of veterans who had the toll of war wear on them as well. He and other veterans at Woodland Pond were eager to attend the Veterans Day celebration and enjoyed reflecting on their experiences together during a time of camaraderie.
“We are privileged to hear the stories of veterans who live in the Woodland Pond community,” said Michelle Gramoglia, executive director of Woodland Pond at New Paltz. “It is rewarding to have the opportunity to pay tribute to their sacrifices and celebrate the freedom we have today because of their courage. It was fascinating to see all of their medals, awards, uniform pieces, photographs, newspaper clips, letters and more on display in the Independent Living Lobby. It was like an interactive museum where we could hear the stories first-hand.”
On Saturday, October 24 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Woodland Pond residents and team members are eager to open their doors to showcase the wide range of original crafts, books, photographs, needlework, woodworking, ceramics, paintings, handmade American Girl doll clothes and much more for purchase and on display at the community’s annual Kaleidoscope of the Arts show and sale. Some of the pieces were made long ago and have a rich history or story behind them. Others were recently created, either by artists who have pursued lifelong artistic passions or decided to dabble in something new. Oftentimes residents have found time in their retirement to dive into something new that has always artistically intrigued them, so they have explored that creative endeavor. That, or they are aspiring artists who enjoy creating in a challenging medium, implementing a unique design or really exploring their imagination, so they set to create something truly outside-the-box. The residents are excited to share their artwork, their stories and their sources of inspiration with all attendees.
There will also be a children’s “make and take” crafts for children to do with their families or with the residents. There will also be a bake sale in the art studio and gift baskets to be raffled off in the hallway outside the performing arts center. All proceeds from the bake sale and raffle will be donated to the Woodland Pond Foundation, which serves to make the senior living community a better place for all who reside or visit there. This event is free and open to the public. Woodland Pond at New Paltz is located at 100 Woodland Pond Circle (Off of North Putt Corners Road) New Paltz, NY 12561.
Three years ago, Vivian Stoner asked John Fracasse if he would like to accompany her to a Valentine’s Day dance, and he accepted. The two are residents at Woodland Pond at New Paltz and did not expect to date in retirement. Now considered an “item” at the senior living community, John and Vivian have led the way in encouraging other seniors to date–people who may have originally felt that they were too old. In recognition of National Romance Awareness Month, Vivian and John want to share their story, perspective and advice in the hope of letting other seniors know that it’s never too late, and you’re never too old to start dating or to begin a relationship. Vivian says it makes her feel like a kid again and believes it to be very healthy. She loves the butterflies she still feels around John.
“I never thought I’d have these feelings again,” said Vivian. “When he holds my hand, I feel sparks fly. We went to that Valentine’s Day dance on a whim, and I would have never guessed fate would bring us to where we are today. At the celebration, we discovered that we both love to dance, so we started the party on the dance floor, and soon other couples were joining us. Beyond dancing, we learned that we had many of the same interests, and our relationship grew from there. It’s funny, because neither one of us was looking for anything, but over time our friendship bloomed, and now we are “going together.’”
“I ran into Vivian and got to know her when she was walking with her grandchild,” said John. “A few weeks later, she asked me to the dance, and then I followed up with her to see if she would like to join me for lunch in Newburg by the waterfront. I took her to my favorite restaurant because I wanted to share something special with her. It’s nice being able to share experiences with someone. We are both so comfortable with each other; it feels like we’ve known each other our whole lives. We work as a team, too, which is also important. We like to stay active and are very involved in the community. She puts on several dances every year and DJs for them. I help her by advertising and arranging refreshments supplied. I like to put on a Super Bowl party, and she helps me with that as well.”
Vivian and John are involved in each other’s family events as well. John says that Vivian is a most caring person who does a lot for everybody and always puts others first. Both agreed that they never thought they would date after their spouses passed. They were both caregivers and endured a lot of pain during that chapter of their lives. It has been said that people find love when they are not looking for it, and both John and Vivian agree with that. They enjoy each other’s companionship and are happy to have someone to laugh with, travel with, create new memories with and be silly with as well.
“I feel like I’ve become alive, and I’m having the most wonderful time in my life right now,” said Vivian. “He’s my best friend. I love when he holds my hand and gives me hugs. We never let the stigma of being too old stop us from dating. What’s funny about this whole situation is that he lives right across the hall from me, so when we started dating we joked about the 252 steps it would take to get to each other’s apartments. After we started dating, we noticed other residents giving the dating scene a go and to their delight, finding someone they cherish spending time with each and every day. The important thing to remember while dating is to be yourself and don’t hold back. If you want to spend time with someone, hug them or hold their hand, just go for it. Don’t be afraid or worry about what others think. Do what you want to do, and don’t look back. If you want to go to dinner with someone, just ask. If you want to see a movie with someone, just ask.”
Vivian and John enjoy doing a lot of the same activities. The two love to travel and have been to Texas, Louisiana, Colorado, Wyoming, Tennessee, South Dakota and the Jersey shore. They plan to visit Italy later this year. The two also enjoy camping in cabins, spending time with each other’s families, country music and more. John is a firm believer in compromising. He says that sometimes you will want to do different things but that it is important to compromise. Sometimes he will do something he doesn’t want to do because he knows it means a lot to Vivian, and likewise with her.
“Our children joke that we are never around because we stay so busy, but they are happy we have found this camaraderie with each other,” said John. “Vivian has brightened every day since I met her. I call her in the mornings once I see that her shade is up, as that’s how I know she’s awake. When her phone rings, I’m sure she knows it’s me.”
“I just think John is so cute, and I love hearing from him first thing in the morning,” said Vivian. “Dating is more fun when you get older. You can get away with more silly things. Moving to Woodland Pond was the best move of my life. Ever since I moved in I’ve been having fun every day, and meeting John was the icing on the cake. When I moved here, my whole life changed. Fate is an extraordinary thing. One day you’re doing your same routine, and then bam! You acquire a feeling you didn’t think you’d have again. At one point I thought I would never date anyone, and then my attitude changed after I met John. If you keep living and meeting new people, life just may surprise you.”
“Vivian and John are the perfect example of how you can find happiness at any point in your life,” said Michelle Gramoglia, executive director of Woodland Pond at New Paltz. “They are an inspiration to us all because they don’t hold back and they don’t let what others think get in the way of their happiness. I’m tickled that they hit it off at one of the community’s Valentine’s Day dances. That means a lot to the staff who plan these events in the hope that residents will get to know each other more, build lasting friendships and even relationships down the road.”
There are more than 100 senior living community options in the state of New York, yet only 11 offer Life care for their residents. Life care is a type of long-term care insurance offered in New York to help seniors age in place with financial protection against long term private pay costs. Wanting to be a resource to the surrounding community, Michelle Gramoglia, executive director for Woodland Pond, has advice and information to share.
“Life care guarantees a predictable cost of long-term care for life in exchange for a fixed upfront fee and a lower monthly fee,” said Michelle Gramoglia, executive director of Woodland Pond at New Paltz. “In the communities where it is offered, it is an optional component of a residential contract. Here at Woodland Pond, more than 90 percent of all residents opt for the protection of Life care. By doing so, the residents have paid an average of $60,000 per person to ensure that as they age in place and require care in either assisted living (including memory care) or skilled nursing, their cost of care will remain low and will be completely predictable for life.”
Life care is essentially a long-term care insurance policy, and in New York, communities that offer this type of contract are regulated by the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYS DFS) as if they were any other type of fully licensed insurance company. According to a report conducted by the United States Government Accountability Office, a growing population of older Americans is seeking options to ensure that their assets and income in retirement will cover the cost of their housing and health care needs. Wishing to give residents the comfort of aging in place, with predictability in costs for retirement, the Life care concept gives families and residents peace of mind that they will be taken care of as their health care needs change over time.
According to the American Seniors Housing Association, CCRCs offer an alternative lifestyle option for older adults and are especially attractive to seniors making decisions for their long-term care future. They allow seniors to convert home equity or other assets into housing and to receive daily living services and health care in a way that keeps monthly expenditures more stable. Life care contracts include unlimited enriched housing/assisted living care (if offered by the community) and unlimited skilled nursing facility services, along with independent housing and residential services and amenities. The resident's monthly fee cannot change due to a change in the level of covered health care required by the resident (except for normal operating costs and inflation adjustment). This means that the resident pays the same monthly fee in the skilled nursing facility as he or she paid in independent living. Many CCRCs/FFSCCRCs offer contracts which refund a specific percentage of the entrance fee regardless of the length of residency. (For example, 90 percent or 50 percent refundable contracts are currently offered in several communities). The refund is paid to the resident or the resident's estate if the contract is terminated or upon the resident’s death.
“When compared to traditional long-term care policies, Life care at our community saves residents a substantial amount of money,” said Gramoglia. “On average, if a female enters a senior living community at the age of 70, she will live another 17 years. For men, that average is another 13.7 years. With a normal policy, if a couple were to enter together, they would pay $10,000 per person per year. With Life care, the couple is looking at paying $120,000 combined for both people. The upfront fee is 100 percent tax deductible for most New York State residents, and the Life care option makes 20 percent of monthly service (maintenance) fees additionally tax deductible each and every year of residency.”
At Woodland Pond, for 2015, the average monthly cost of care for a Life care resident is less than $4,000 per month, while those not opting for the protection of Life care are paying between $4,860 and more than $14,500 per month. At a savings of between just under $1,000 per month and $10,000 a month, Life care pays for itself quickly. It also provides the peace of mind that the care is there, at a cost far below market rates, when a resident needs it. It guards residents from additional costs due to unexpected changes in their health and ensures that they transition to the right level of care when they may need to.
“Another benefit is that if you are married to someone and you both move in and one person’s needs change drastically before their spouse’s, you’ll both get the level of care you need while living in the same community,” said Gramoglia. “For example, if the husband is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and needs memory care, he does not need to transfer to a different campus specializing only in memory care to have his needs met. We have couples needing varying levels of care that are currently living at Woodland Pond who can testify to the ease of living at a CCRC. We welcome members of the public who are interested in learning more about Life care to our Lunch and Learn for the opportunity to talk to experts who can address their questions.”
Knowing that voting is a privilege and understanding the importance of providing a bipartisan view of political issues and candidates, Woodland Pond of New Paltz residents eagerly participate in a Political Affairs Committee to help educate fellow residents on local politics. Older adults have a tremendous influence on elections, and the residents recognize the importance of learning about the candidates and issues in advance. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, voters 65 and older had a 72 percent turnout during the last presidential election, the highest percentage of any age group. The committee invites speakers from both political parties to present a bipartisan view and also schedules transportation to the polls and political events. Most of the guest speakers are locals seeking office, have special knowledge about political issues, or are politicians explaining their programs. The group is already looking toward the next election, and since there’s plenty of time to register to vote, they’re hoping to encourage others to educate themselves and participate as well.
“We just had the New Paltz Village elections this spring and are preparing for the New Paltz Town elections, which coincide with the national and state elections,” said Dorothy Jessup, Political Affairs Committee chairperson. “During the last congressional election, we had the pleasure of welcoming two local candidates to Woodland Pond to present their viewpoints. When you do something you learn more about it. Even though many of us are Democrats, we vote across party lines. Before joining the political affairs committee, I attended only Democratic caucuses, but now I attend Republican ones as well, so I can present a bipartisan view of local politics.”
Every two years the committee has town board candidates come out to speak, as well as candidates for the biannual town and county elections. The Political Affairs Committee also schedules speakers who can present both sides of a controversial political topic, such as the recent Town/Village consolidation proposal. In addition to scheduling speaking engagements and debates at Woodland Pond, the committee also arranges transportation to take residents to local sites such as colleges, where the candidates will deliver additional speeches or conduct debates.
“Some people take the privilege of voting for granted and do not exercise their right to vote,” said Michelle Gramoglia, executive director of Woodland Pond at New Paltz. “It is amazing to see firsthand how many passionate voters and advocates we have at Woodland Pond and what positive changes they have helped implement. Our residents and team members are encouraged by the political affairs group to educate themselves on what’s happening in the political sphere and to make informed decisions when voting. I am really proud of this committee’s work.”
Recently, the political affairs committee made a strong effort to get residents out to vote on a school bond proposal that was put before the community to help repair parts of the school and restore several neglected school buildings. They had to revote on the proposal three times, and it finally passed in March. This spring, the committee also encouraged residents to participate in the Village election, the regular school board election and the operating budget vote. In late August or September, the committee will participate in local caucuses and witness firsthand how one nominee for office, whom 5,000 or so people may be voting for, will be selected by maybe 100 individuals through the open primary.
“I’ve been involved in politics since 1954, participating in grassroots efforts, local campaigning, voting and I even played a part in the Democratic Reform Movement in New York City,” said Jessup. “During my retirement I became more involved in politics when fellow citizens and I decided to work toward getting a new superintendent on the school board, someone who represented the forward-looking progressive community of New Paltz. We worked diligently to make that goal a reality. I then worked with fellow citizens to bring Woodland Pond to fruition, and now I chair the Political Affairs Committee. It was this involvement later in my life that showed me how much more of a difference one can make by acting at the local government level, as opposed to participating in the larger state or national scene. We have been able to accomplish so much just by getting both parties to compromise, which we did by simple talking to people and getting them to listen.”
Jessup feels strongly that it is important for Woodland Pond residents to vote in local elections so local political officials will know that seniors are constituents who pay attention to what they do. The residents have seen how their voices have made a difference, and they will continue with grassroots efforts leading up to the next election and others in the future. The residents look forward to getting out the vote and influencing change in the coming months.
Keeping gloves on her hands is hard for Cynthia Lee, a Woodland Pond resident, who has been gardening for 67 years and loves to feel the moist earth between her fingers and in her hands. She grew up on a farm and began planting and tending her family’s garden at the age of eight. Now she continues her passion for beautifying the environment at her cottage in the New Paltz continuing care retirement community. Finding the setting both serene and beautiful, many residents at Woodland Pond at New Paltz are quite fond of gardening. To celebrate this passion, the community will host its 4th Annual Garden Tour on Friday, June 26th for residents and invited guests to enjoy. The event will showcase their extraordinary gardens that are bountiful with exotic flowers and fresh fruits and vegetables. Residents living in ground-floor apartments and in cottages will be presenting their gardens during a group tour and self-guided tours. In addition to private gardens, the garden show will also showcase The Resident Community’s Garden and The Memory Care Garden which groups of residents tend together. While this event is not open to the general public, the media is invited to attend and capture this very interesting tour as it takes place.
“I lose track of time very easily and can get lost in my garden for hours at a time,” said Lee. “It is very peaceful, and every problem seems to just go away when I am in the garden. I have to be careful that I don’t overdo it, as I can get very determined and caught up in the happiness that gardening brings me. I started gardening on our family farm in Binghamton, New York when I was eight years old. Life was peaceful and refreshing on the farm. My four sisters and I learned to garden, sew, cook, take care of chickens, cows and pheasants, bale hay and lift stones off our land. We exhibited many of these talents at the county fair. My mother would always scold me for putting off studying for my June Regents, but I just loved being in that garden. I learned how to nurture flowers and plants from my grandmother and my mother. During the summer months I would spend a whole week with my grandma, and she would show me how she tended to her vegetables and flowers. I am fortunate to have grown up on a farm and been exposed to all the joys of nature.”
In addition to being in her own garden, Lee visits the gardens of her Hudson Valley neighbors. Just last week she traveled to Hyde Park to a famous garden designed by Beatrix Farrand, located next to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Wallace Visitor’s Center. At the end of this month, Lee will visit her neighbors’ gardens at Woodland Pond when the community hosts their annual garden show. This year’s theme is “Summer in Bloom ~ The Joys of June.” This event is put on by The Garden Committee, and it is held for fellow residents, their friends and families. The event will begin at 10:00 a.m. and last until 12:00 p.m. A group tour will commence at 10:00 a.m. under the awning in the Dining Courtyard. Attendees are also welcome to do self-guided tours. A “self-guided tour” with campus map will be available for those who wish to do the tour on their own. A shorter route is planned to accommodate those who prefer an abbreviated tour that is “mobility-friendly.”
“During the 40 years I lived in Highland, I grew potatoes, tomatoes, asparagus, carrots, eggplants, fennel, basil, oregano and other vegetables and herbs, in addition to my flowers. In my gardens at my cottage at Woodland Pond, I have planted a plethora of both unique and classic plants and flowers,” said Lee. “I created a new garden recently, as I keep buying new plants and don’t have anywhere to put them. Some of my plants are very old and full of history or have traveled with me from other places. Last year a dear friend of mine passed away, and she had requested that I dig up her mums and nurture them in my own garden. That meant the world to me. In the spring, I have daffodils bloom that are 100 years old. They were from my first home, in Highland, which was built in 1860, and moved with me to Woodland Pond. I also grow peonies, which I purchased from the Heritage Garden at Locust Grove in Poughkeepsie, the former home of Samuel B Morse, painter and inventor. My husband and I used to travel to Europe and I got much of my inspiration from English and French gardens.”
Lee’s walkway is lined with marigolds, and her cottage is surrounded with perennials, some in a raised garden off the patio. She also has hanging plants which invite the humming birds to a feast. Hollyhocks are the most difficult plant she has ever grown, due to the length of time it takes to get the plant established. She will also be showcasing a Japanese maple bush, lavender, a perennial hibiscus, hostas, foxglove, low-growing shrubs, Knock-Out roses and Autumn mum plants that she devotes extra time to by pinching the buds twice a week until July 4th to ensure that they open with extra blooms and more compact plants. She enjoys adding new plants to her gardens, ones that she have never tended to before, as it challenges her and keeps things interesting. She thinks it is important to try something new every year.
“Over time, I have developed a talent for arranging flowers, both inside of my garden as well as in floral arrangements,” said Lee. “In the past 20 years, I have spent more time on structuring the layout of my garden to give it depth and texture, as it makes it more pleasing to the eye. Some colors look better together, as well as low plants next to high plants there are more intervals in the sections. This has made me more appreciative of the way other people arrange their gardens and the visuals they take into consideration. I am excited for the garden tour, as I cannot wait to see other residents’ gardens and see their reaction to my own. I like to share my joy. My favorite time of year is spring, because I love seeing everything come to life again. Seeing these beautiful flowers instills hope and life inside of me, as I feel connected to the earth when I am in my garden.”
“One of the most delightful things about gardens is the anticipation they provide,” said Michelle Gramoglia, executive director of Woodland Pond. “The Garden Committee and Woodland Pond would like to express sincere appreciation to the nearly 60 participating gardeners for the time that they have invested in planting and nurturing their gardens to make our community so beautiful. It is evident that they all had gardens that they left behind when they moved to Woodland Pond, and we are happy that they are able to continue gardening here for everyone to enjoy. It is certainly a visual feast for the eyes, and we all find pleasure in seeing the varied and colorful gardens.”