Celebrating All Kinds of Love on Valentine’s Day!

What do you think of when you hear that Valentine’s Day is approaching? If you’re like so many of us, you’ve been conditioned to think almost solely of romantic love: flowers, candy, jewelry and tons of greeting cards.

Besides being narrowly focused, this sole emphasis on romantic love, or eros, can cause many people to experience loneliness on a day that could be used as a time to celebrate the many varied and beautiful types of love. One of the greatest risks for seniors is isolation and loneliness. It’s important to stay connected through all types of love!

The origins of Valentine’s Day are not definite, but historians generally agree that it originated to honor one of the three Saints Valentine. Centuries later, Valentine’s Day is almost singly associated with romantic love. Americans alone spend billions of dollars for Valentine’s Day gifts! And if you’re not involved in a romantic relationship…well, where does this leave you?

There are many other types of love that could be celebrated on Valentine’s Day! When we emphasize only romantic love, we miss the opportunity to celebrate other longer-lasting, highly fulfilling types of affection. Amongst others, there is philia, which is friendship and good will toward others. There is pragma, or practical love, the longer-term love that is based on commitment and shared goals. And, there is agape, or universal love, sometimes also compared to charity or associated with the love between God and humankind. 

All of these are equally legitimate forms of love to celebrate! When is the last time we thought of giving a Valentine’s cards as a way of thanking a friend for support? Or how about using Valentine’s Day to celebrate a couple whose marriage or relationship has spanned decades? And how can we practice agape, the universal love of others, on Valentine’s Day? We can do something nice, something unexpected, for a friend, coworker, or even a stranger! Buy someone’s lunch, visit someone who is often alone, or practice philanthropy, as you are able, to help others.

At Westminster Canterbury, this year we are celebrating through a Renewal of Vows ceremony for resident couples; staff and residents exchanging “Valentine Grams” to express their appreciation; and a Reflections of Love Open House to share wedding photos, love letters and trinkets. Let’s challenge the “traditional” sense of Valentine’s Day this year. Perhaps skip that routine box of chocolates and take time to celebrate those other important loves in your life! Let’s make this Valentine’s Day the most inclusive one yet!

Our Employees Give From the Heart

At Westminster Canterbury Richmond, our employees take giving back seriously. They have launched the “Giving From the Heart” effort in February to raise donations for W·E·A·V·E.

Westminster Canterbury Foundation’s W·E·A·V·E program (Workforce-Education-Assistance-Volunteerism-Engagement) is their channel to giving back to one another and our community. Employees support W·E·A·V·E to help their fellow coworkers with emergencies, enable them to pursue education and self-improvement, fund staff volunteer work in the Richmond community, and connect through activity and appreciation.

During 2018, Westminster Canterbury staff partnered with project:HOMES to build components for 15 ramps and install three others on homes in the Richmond community. Staff raised the funds for the materials and gave the volunteer hours to make it happen. Part of the funds given by donors to W·E·A·V·E will help build more ramps in 2019.

Because of generous donors, our workforce can apply for emergency assistance for situations such as when a house fire strikes or a spouse loses a job. Donations also provide for scholarship assistance, making it possible for many to pursue additional education through certifications, conferences and higher degrees. In the past year, donors made it possible for coworkers to pursue degrees in Nursing and Business Administration, certifications in new Wellness and Recreation skills and additional training that will help them in their careers and help ensure the best life possible for our residents.

Our employees care deeply about our residents and each other. It is a privilege to watch their generosity in action.

Intimate Chamber Concert Series in the Roof Terrace

Westminster Canterbury Richmond recently undertook an extensive renovation of our Roof Terrace, a beautiful gathering space at the top of our eight-story Tower building. The interior of the Roof Terrace is complete, and activities are already taking place up there! We have had birthday parties, cocktail parties, lectures, and exercise classes that have gone very well.

The most recent addition to our Cultural Arts activities is a new performing arts series called the Roof Terrace Chamber Series. This video is from the first performance. This is a great example of how improving our spaces is a great benefit to helping our residents live life well with vital engagement in their senior years. Stay tuned for more videos as the performances continue. Learn more about our theater and arts programming here.

 

Resolve to Grow

At the start of a New Year, many make resolutions.  These resolutions are often so predictable that gyms add short-term staff every January knowing most good intentions fade away quickly.  But how often do we resolve to deepen aspects of life that may make the biggest difference to our relationships, peace of mind and overall wellness?  It’s never too late for that!

Resolving to deepen our spiritual life can be simple but powerful.  Agree with yourself that you’ll carve out even ten minutes to be quiet, to pray or meditate, to read scripture, listen to inspiring music, or talk with a friend about values you share.  Try setting aside the same small block of time each day so that you develop a rhythm.  Many choose to start their day with a quiet time and others enjoy ending their day by remembering the day’s blessings and turning their worries over to God.  Our spiritual lives are at the core of personal wellness through seeking peace, connectedness, emotional support, a sense of joy and wholeness.  These are characteristics that help sustain us through the thick and thin of life.

When we encourage one another to deepen our spiritual lives, we each find it easier to stick to an important resolution. May 2019 be a year of joy and growth for you and those you love!

Staying Connected Promotes Good Health

Here at Westminster Canterbury Richmond, activities are designed to help residents learn the importance of a well-balanced lifestyle and increase the awareness of whole person wellness. We already know that staying physically active offers a variety of health benefits but how can staying socially active help maintain good health as well?

Staying connected and spending time with others can combat the negative effects of social isolation and loneliness. Seniors are especially vulnerable to these issues as they begin to lose family and friends, become physically impaired, or face transportation challenges. Some risks associated with these issues include depression, developing sore joints and weak muscles, increasing blood pressure and developing memory and cognitive problems.

To help residents at Westminster Canterbury Richmond avoid the dangers of social isolation, our wellness and recreation teams create fun and engaging activities every week. Residents can enjoy off-campus excursions, performances in the Sara Belle November Theater, educational and spiritual lectures, resident-led activities such as bridge, croquet and chess, art classes and instructor-led exercise classes. In addition, residents have access to new technology making it easier for them to communicate with each other with their smart devices.

Social engagement is an important dimension of good health and plays a major role in the current and future plans for maintaining and improving the Wellness Program on our campus. We look forward to connecting and interacting with you, helping to make it a happy and healthy New Year.

The Giving Time of Year

The holiday season is a wonderful time for taking stock of our blessings. As we celebrate with family, spend time with friends, shop for the perfect gift or prepare special holiday treats, we can reflect on all the people and things we are thankful for.

It is especially during this giving time of the year that Westminster Canterbury Foundation is particularly grateful for the inspiring generosity of so many. You ensure the best life possible for our residents and employees, along with everyone associated with our organization. Since our very beginnings, we have provided support for seniors-in-need through our Fellowship Program, which provides security, dignity and peace of mind to more than 110 of your deserving neighbors. Your gifts to the Fellowship program provide housing, meals, comprehensive medical care and a culturally rich and fulfilling environment for neighbors-in-need.

A recipient of Fellowship assistance shared these thoughts about your inspiring generosity:

“Westminster Canterbury Foundation’s Fellowship Program means everything to me. Before moving to Westminster Canterbury Richmond, I spent decades caring for my wife. She had multiple chronic illnesses. Thankfully, we had many wonderful years together. By the time she passed away, we were left with very little. Our pastor encouraged us to apply to the Fellowship Program. Because of generous donors like you, I now call Westminster Canterbury home.  Imagine for a moment what living here means to me.  I now have a safe and caring place to live. I receive all of my meals. My medical needs are met through excellent life care.  For the first time in years, I have security and peace of mind. The Fellowship Program is a gift from God! Being a part of this program has proven hours of love and security beyond measure. I am so grateful!”

Inspiring Generosity All Year Long

There’s just something about this time of year that inspires generosity. It’s our beautiful faith traditions, reminding us of the ultimate gift of God’s love. Perhaps it’s cold weather turning us inward toward each other. Maybe, just maybe, as we inch closer to making New Year’s resolutions, we should remember those best intentions that began the year. It’s true that we cannot make up in December for injustice that lasts all year. But, in the spirit of generosity, we can each do what we can, turn toward one another, exercise our best intent, respond to love with love and strive to make our world a better place. We can each make a difference.

At Westminster Canterbury Richmond, we practice generosity year-round through our Fellowship Program. We welcome into our community many who have given of their goodness throughout their lives but are unable to afford a healthy retirement. We offer every resident the security and peace of mind that they will never be asked to leave for financial reasons beyond their control. Through your help, we lean into our mission, sharing the joy of caring for one another.

Living and working in a community that promotes excellence and compassion in equal measure builds the spirit of generosity – what joy and blessing!

As this sacred season and the cold days of winter envelop us, listen for God’s sure call to compassion. Responding connects you to the best part of life. Celebrate love that promises peace and hope for all.

To support Westminster Canterbury Foundation’s Fellowship Program, please visit www.wcrichmond.org/giving. We greatly appreciate and need your generosity this season. Thank you.

Celebrating “Thanksgiving” All Year

It’s here! Thanksgiving, a major holiday in the United States! It might mean eating a lot, gathering with loved ones, and perhaps preparing for an often hectic holiday season. But what does it really mean to be thankful?

For many, Thanksgiving is a time to gather with those we love, and simply put, to be thankful for what we have.

The “what” is not just limited to “things.” We are entering a time of year when there is abundance of things. What about the less tangible but equally important aspects of life? Perhaps this means our health, job or financial security, or the blessing of living in a peaceful society. When we stop to think about it, many of us can find an abundance of things for which we are thankful!

That said, it is all too easy to focus on what is not going well. This holiday season, let’s challenge each other to break this trend. Be the person who focuses on what is going well or right. Negativity may be contagious, but so is positivity! Your example can change those around you.

A powerful way to get into the habit of focusing on what is going right is through a gratitude journal. Research has shown that regularly taking time to reflect on what we are thankful for can increase our own happiness.

Why practice gratitude journaling? Consistently focusing on what is going well can lead to better relationships and strengthen one’s resilience, the ability to recover when something does go wrong. Moreover, gratitude journaling has been associated with reduced levels of stress, anxiety and depression. It may improve self-esteem. And there is evidence of physical benefits—an improved immune system, better sleep and even improvements in chronic pain.

With practice, it becomes second nature to focus on the positive.

Start with just a few moments each week to focus on things for which you are thankful. Like every new practice, it may feel strange at first.  Writing down thoughts of gratitude can result in a powerful reference book that can be a great source of strength to read when we are faced with adversity.

It is true that there is pain all around us. There are times when it is right to mourn, right to focus on our pain and darkness. But there is joy everywhere too.  It is so easy to let the joy be overshadowed by the negativity and pain. This season, if we begin to challenge ourselves to practice appreciating the good, it may be easier to see the light, even if faint, when we are faced with the darkness.

This Thanksgiving, Westminster Canterbury Richmond wishes you and your loved ones a season of meaningful joy and peace!

Facebook: Why limit Thanksgiving to one day or season? In the year ahead, let’s focus on gratitude. Read to learn more about the many benefits of adopting this outlook! From our Westminster Canterbury family to yours, we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Honoring Veterans

Westminster Canterbury Richmond honors the veterans living among us who made a tremendous impact on the world through their service. We currently serve residents who range in age from 65 to 105, many of whom have served in the United States Armed Forces. Our veterans have assured the privilege of peaceful voting in the United States. Election Day provided an opportunity to reflect on this right, which we should never take for granted.

Each November, we celebrate our veterans with a display in our Main Street Gallery featuring photos from their time in service. This Friday, resident veterans will share their memorabilia and stories at our Veterans Living History Display. This is a chance for residents and staff to talk with veterans and share in their memories while celebrating and honoring them.

In the evening, the John Marshall High School Alumni Band will entertain with an evening of patriotic tunes in the Sara Belle November Theater.

As we approach Veterans Day we honor all those men and women who have protected and

served our country through the military. Thank you for your service!

A Ride on The Pulse – Transportation for All

One of the key concerns of seniors in our surrounding area is a lack of access to public transportation. According to Westminster Canterbury Foundation’s Senior Community Needs Assessment, nearly 75% of those over 65 didn’t feel public transportation was available for older people. Richmond recently adapted its bus line and service by introducing The Pulse. A group of our residents took a ride to try out these new offerings and truly enjoyed it. Would you consider taking an elder friend for a ride on the Pulse? It may open a new world of possibilities. Watch this video to see how the ride went!

Will you support your neighbor–in-need?

Mary was widowed in her early 40s. She worked as a secretary until retirement so that she could provide for her children’s needs and education. She struggles to make ends meet on her tiny pension. Her home needs critical safety repairs and she can no longer afford all of her medications.

Howard owned his own small business. He raised his children and a grandchild. Despite financial hardships, he tithed all of his adult life. He lives with his children but his medical conditions mean he now needs a level of care they are unable to provide.

These two seniors-in-need are our neighbors in the greater Richmond community, whose lives could be changed by generous gifts to Westminster Canterbury Richmond’s Fellowship Fund.  Please help us say “yes” to their needs. 

Many older adults find themselves stranded on the road of life as they encounter the high cost of living and medical expenses. Your generosity provides security and peace of mind to these men and women, many of whom have led long lives of service to God and to their neighbors.

The Fellowship Program provides confidential financial assistance to seniors-in-need. Since 1975, Fellowship has provided over $70 million in assistance to more than 540 seniors in the form of housing, meals, help with medical expenses and access to Westminster Canterbury’s vital living.

Your donations do not go to a “far-away place.” You are helping to support your neighbors who have contributed their time and talents to enriching our community. A grateful recipient of Fellowship assistance described her gratitude: “Fellowship is a gift to my family, knowing that I will be taken care of.”

You are needed! Your gift will provide security and peace of mind to deserving seniors!

If you have not already made a gift to support the Fellowship Program, please consider joining our generous donors in giving to Fellowship.  You may give by check, credit card or securities transfer, or you can make a pledge to give by December 31, 2018.  For more information, please contact Jeanette Ucci at 804-264-6204 or visit www.wcrichmond.org/foundation.

Spirituality as Foundation

One’s spirituality creates the foundation of a strong and meaningful life.  The health of our spirit affects many aspects of wellness – your social and emotional wellbeing, your sense of security and purpose.  We believe a healthy spirit is the foundation of a vibrant life.

Spirituality and faith grow whenever a person prioritizes that growth.  And often that means having time to do so.  During our senior years, when pressures have lifted from work, financial achievement and raising our families, we may choose to spend time strengthening those parts of life that matter most to us.  When we face challenges, a strong spirit can help us stay steady and pull through.  What a benefit to look forward to and claim in elderhood! 

At Westminster Canterbury we strive to help people deepen their spiritual lives through a balance of worship, education and fellowship. Our Pastoral Care department chaplains visit with residents and staff frequently, knowing this one-on-one contact is often the most impactful service they offer. In fact, last year, chaplains held 6,000 one-on-one pastoral visits.  Chaplain interns are also an important part of our pastoral care programming.  Students from regional seminaries and universities intern with us, learning from mentors and the many ministry opportunities experienced here.  When these interns leave us to begin their careers, they are well-prepared in meaningful ways. Our internship program is one way that Westminster Canterbury Richmond gives back to the larger community.

Spiritual growth is important to us and many say that spirituality is tangible here.  We’ve prioritized this core part of our missional identity in our current master campus planning.  Exciting news will be coming soon.