John Burns on Reaching Out

Hi – I’m John Burns, President and CEO of Westminster Canterbury Richmond, and I’m pleased to be able to share with you an update about an exciting project being led by our workforce.

Last year, Westminster Canterbury Foundation completed a Community Needs Assessment that explored barriers to healthy aging in greater Richmond. We know the needs of our community are many, and as leaders in senior living, we felt compelled to determine how we can help seniors outside our walls.

The four barriers the assessments identified were housing, transportation and walkability, aging in place and access to service, and chronic disease management. We began reaching out to other local organizations who serve seniors to find a way to help.

Our first step has been ramp installation with project:HOMES. Our incredible workforce enjoys volunteering in the community, so we are combining our efforts to make the biggest difference we can. Three groups have installed ramps on homes in Richmond community, changing the outlook for seniors and their loved ones who struggled to leave the house. One of the people helped had a stroke six months ago and wasn’t able to leave home until our staff installed a ramp for them. In May, we are hosting a Ramp Building Blitz  our campus onto build ramp components that will be installed later. Our employees are raising $15,000 to support the Blitz.

Westminster Canterbury is grateful to be able to fulfill our vision of improving the lives we serve every day and to channel our energy into the community to serve those beyond our gates. If you’d like to learn more about our Community Needs Assessment and these efforts, visit Enjoy this video that shows our volunteers hard at work on a chilly March morning!

Spring has sprung at Westminster Canterbury!

One of the wonderful annual events here at Westminster Canterbury Richmond is the Daffodil Show, complete with an educational workshop, judging and even a chance for the children in the Child Development Center to get involved. Residents and staff bring in their best blooms and show off their green thumbs as entries are judged in various categories. With dozens of different species and hybrids, there are always interesting and unique entries. Whether you know them as daffodils, narcissus or jonquils, enjoy this inside look at this lovely spring tradition!



A few months ago, our admissions office received an emotional call from a grieving son named Rob.  Rob’s dad has a movement disorder.  His mom has been the primary caregiver.  Though Rob and his sister stay in close touch with their parents and help as often as they possibly can, both siblings are busy with careers and growing families.  Then the unthinkable happened.

Rob was frantic, “My mother died last week!  The stress of caregiving caused a heart attack.  I can scarcely grieve for her because I am so worried about Dad.  He can’t be alone.  For his sake, I have to ask, is there any way Westminster Canterbury can help us?”

Rob and his sister know that this is the best possible place for the father they love so much.  But they also know that his father’s modest salary as a missionary never allowed him to save adequately for retirement.

Support from generous donors to the Fellowship Program allows us to say, “Yes” when a crisis like Rob’s arises.  Your inspiring generosity provides housing, meals, medical care and all the aspects of vital living found at Westminster Canterbury.  We can’t do it without help from generous donors.

To learn more about how to support Westminster Canterbury’s Fellowship Program, contact Elizabeth Vaughan, 804-264-6204.

*The details in this story have been changed to protect the anonymity of our Fellowship recipients.




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Ageism – discrimination against persons of a certain age group.  In other words, ageism is discriminating against us just because we grow older.  We reject this.  We need to disrupt ageism.

Those of us who are fortunate to continue to enjoy each new day and each new year are blessed.  Not only are we moving into our own elderhood – a time of deepened purpose, peacemaking and joy – we are part of an unprecedented age wave with 10,000 people turning 65 each day and many enjoying increased longevity. Our time is now!

Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Gerontology has long been on a mission to disrupt ageism.  Not only does our culture overvalue youth over maturity, pervasively negative messages toward aging actually cost us years of our lives – if we internalize the negativity.  Those of us who are aging – and that is every person from birth onward – need to question our culture’s values and give ourselves permission to celebrate the blessing of longevity.  It is a blessing of great worth.

The Longevity Economy by James Coughlin is an enlightening 2017 release worth reading.  The author, the founder and director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Age Lab, explores the role of technology and design in the lives of the 50+ population.  Coughlin recognizes that innovation lags in response to this age group but trusts that demand will drive response.  We look forward to that!

At Westminster Canterbury Richmond, we are committed to leadership in senior living – recognizing that there is a great deal of learning to do!  We are on a mission to improve the lives of those we are privileged to serve each day and to make a positive difference for seniors in the greater Richmond region.  Our Foundation’s annual Innovation Grants seek to inspire creative thinking among our staff.  And workforce teams are volunteering with project:HOMES to build ramps for seniors-in-need in our region who will benefit from improved mobility access.

These are strong starts.  There are many opportunities to grow, to learn and to help one another.  What a tremendous, purpose-filled time of life!

For more information or to share your ideas, contact Gayle Hunter Haglund at Westminster Canterbury Foundation (804-264-6702).


Technology helps us stay connected

Technology and connectivity is an ever-increasing part of all our lives. We get our news online, do our banking online, and communicate with our friends and family via text and social media.

At Westminster Canterbury Richmond, it’s important to us that we can communicate with our residents in ways that are easy and accessible. In addition to traditional methods like monthly town hall-style meetings, our in-house television station and our weekly printed newsletter, The Westminster Canterbury Tales, we have a Resident Apps website that helps interested residents get instant updates on happening around campus.

Everything from daily dining menus, a staff directory and event listings in fitness, our theater, studio arts, pastoral care and more are available at the touch of a button. Residents access this information on their computer, tablets or smartphones, making it easier than ever for them to know what is happening on our campus and get involved!

No matter our age, everyone wants to feel connected and know what’s happening around them. Social isolation can be a risk for us as we get older, so finding ways to get involved and stay informed go a long way in keeping us healthy. With so many opportunities for vibrant living and engagement at Westminster Canterbury, we provide many ways for our residents to stay in the loop.

If you’re interested in learning more about how you can live vibrantly at Westminster Canterbury, visit

A Lenten Journey

During this Lenten season, many at Westminster Canterbury Richmond, and many out in the community and at churches across the Richmond region enjoy reading daily devotions like those found in A Lenten Journey. For twenty-one years Westminster Canterbury has produced this devotional guide featuring stories and thoughts from residents and staff. This year, 7,000 booklets were printed and distributed across Richmond.

A Lenten Journey is also available online! Click here to access. We hope you enjoy the following selection written by Westminster Canterbury resident and retired Collegiate teacher, Burrell Stultz.

The Greatest of These is Love

On any given day, I find myself saying, “I love that song,” “I love that music,” “I love chocolate.” This attitude of appreciation is contagious when working with others—especially children—and often leads to positive input and interactive conversations.

When, however, these expressions are directed to a person rather than an inanimate object, what a difference! There is a giving and receiving that has no equal. We all know this, but how often do we make this happen? How often do we say: “I love the way you helped me,” or “I loved how you tried even though there was a problem.” Love takes on a different focus.

I saw these profound words: “The magnitude love achieves is measured by the depth of giving, the perception of understanding and the faith of purpose through the passage of time.” I find these thoughts to be a powerhouse that truly personifies Paul’s letters.

Each of the measures is a God-given gift, and I am learning to appreciate this each day! This love gift helps in dealing with troubled times, frustrations and irritations that continue to present themselves in our lives. The familiar words of Henry Emerson Fosdick’s Make a Pearl, exemplify this gift: “Most of us can take a lesson from the oyster. The most extraordinary thing about an oyster is this. Irritations get into his shell. He does not like them. He tries to get rid of them. But when he cannot get rid of them, he settles down to make of them one of the most beautiful things in the world. He uses the irritations to do the loveliest thing that an oyster ever has a chance to do. If there are irritations in our lives—make a pearl. It may have to be a pearl of patience or understanding or giving of yourself, but, anyhow, make a pearl. It takes faith and love to do it!”

God helps me to turn day to day experiences into pearls. With His help I will make a pearl to give back to Him. Lord, we are grateful that your love comes to us, not forced but freely with no measures, for us to scatter. We will strive to be worthy of your precious gift. Amen.

Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans – The Power of a Dollar

Do you have a dollar in your pocket or purse?  I do.  To be honest, I have fairly low expectations for my dollar.  I may spend it thoughtlessly here or there, but I doubt my dollar will make much difference.

Each February, Westminster Canterbury Richmond gathers to celebrate Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans, our greatest single benefactor. I’m fascinated by the power of $1 – a particular $1 spent by Lettie Pate’s husband, Joseph Whitehead, in 1899.

In the late 1800s, Joseph came home to tell his wife, Lettie, his latest great idea.  “Lettie, I was just down at the corner drugstore counter enjoying a Coca-Cola.  Boy, is that refreshing!” I imagine he said.  “Wouldn’t it be nifty if I could bring one home for you?  The only way you can have it is at the drugstore. It needs that fizzy water.  There’s got to be a way to sell that delicious refreshing drink so you can take it home and enjoy it whenever you’d like!”  The thought kept running around his head until one day, he decided to turn his lawyer skills to good purpose, and with Lettie’s blessing, Joseph travelled to Atlanta, Georgia, for a meeting with Asa Candler, the president of Coca-Cola.  Joseph took with him a concise agreement.  One short page that would give him the rights to bottle that delicious drink.

Sure enough, he got to Atlanta and had that now famous meeting with Mr. Candler, who signed only because he thought the idea foolish and unlikely.  Whitehead returned home with a signed agreement that cost him $1. Never underestimate the power of $1 in the right hands!

The startup of Coca-Cola Bottling proved a challenging and exhausting endeavor.  After eight years, Joseph was utterly worn out and ill.  He died at only forty-two years old, leaving behind his thirty-four-year-old widow and two young sons.  Not wanting her husband’s life and work to have been in vain, Lettie took up the reins, pushing forward with the business. That $1 grew into millions.

One day in the later years of her life, Lettie asked a neighbor about his involvement in an Episcopal home for elderly women located in Richmond, Virginia.  You see, Lettie well remembered the women of her family who struggled in poverty during her childhood.  She wanted to make sure others lived a better life.

Lettie became involved, helping to provide for the well-being of the women.  The Protestant Episcopal Church Home became part of Westminster Canterbury Richmond’s founding, bringing with it a tradition of blending excellence and compassion that still defines us.


Eventually, Lettie grew old and died.  By then, she had amassed quite a fortune and had established foundations that grew and provide generously to causes she cared deeply about. She wanted other women to be able to establish careers, so her foundations have provided thousands of scholarships at colleges and universities. She cared deeply about the well-being of women as they aged, and the foundations have helped Westminster Canterbury and a number of other senior living organizations provide financial aid for seniors-in-need.  Lettie’s legacy provides generously for Westminster Canterbury Foundation’s Fellowship Program that provides life care – housing, meals, medical expenses and vital living to seniors-in-need.

That original $1 investment, followed with investments of energy, innovation, dedication and hard work produced quite a high percentage return!

So what about my $1, my life?  What about yours?  What about our impact?  Who knows!  You may never see the impact one generous act makes in the life of one person and the person after them.  You may never know the impact of encouragement you offer when someone needs it most.  So keep taking the time to smile, to encourage your own dreams and the dreams of others.  Keep investing in one another – that is how good things begin and keep going.  We can trust God to bless our efforts and multiply them.

For more information about Westminster Canterbury Foundation’s Fellowship Program, contact Elizabeth Vaughan.

Story by Gayle Hunter Haglund, Director Resource Development, Westminster Canterbury Richmond.


Westminster Canterbury Richmond residents live life well in many ways. Here’s one story of a current resident.

Resident Doris Woodson grew up admiring art, a subject she admits she knew little about. “I was always fascinated by this one piece of artwork at my uncle’s house. How could someone be so talented to create that?”

When Doris went to college, after stints studying pharmacy and biology, she realized that art was what she was meant to pursue. She earned her undergraduate degree from Xavier University and a master’s in art from Virginia Commonwealth University. After having children, she began teaching at Virginia State University.

“I never wanted to teach, but once I started, I realized it was exactly where I belonged.” Doris taught painting, drawing and art appreciation. She exhibited her award-winning work around Virginia and beyond, including shows at VMFA, the Mint Museum in Charlotte, and the Richmond International Airport.

Upon moving to Westminster Canterbury, Doris didn’t stop teaching! She volunteered by offering classes and workshops in our McGue-Millhiser Arts Studio, teaching painting and drawing. “It was wonderful to teach my fellow residents. People really wanted to learn and put lots of effort into it. Sometimes I had to convince them that their work was really special by matting, framing and hanging one of their pieces so they could see it. Then they were in awe of what they accomplished!”

Doris loves being at Westminster Canterbury. “I can’t think of one instance where I’ve been dissatisfied. I never could have anticipated how much I would enjoy it.” Now the teacher has become the student! Doris has taken several memoir writing classes and is writing her own memoir for her children and grandchildren.

Could childhood Doris have imagined how much talent for creating art, teaching and writing she would have in adulthood? Westminster Canterbury is a place where you can enjoy using your existing talents and discover new ones!

Click here to learn how you can enjoy your hobbies and culture at Westminster Canterbury.


As we have delved into the successes, challenges and barriers of healthy aging in the Greater Richmond Region, it has been our joy and privilege to work with a number of community partners.  From each, we have learned more about what it takes to make our community better for people of all ages.  We’ve discovered tremendous infrastructure, programs, collaboration and resources for seniors throughout our area.  Westminster Canterbury Foundation is proud to be actively working with each of these partners to add our voice, our expertise, our volunteerism and even our investment – and most importantly continuing to learn from them.

WCR        vcusenior connect       leading age      henricorichmondHolleran        project homes_2

agewave        better housing        henrico library


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Community Study

Community Needs Assessment –  Westminster Canterbury Foundation partnered with Holleran Consulting to conduct a multi-phase Community Needs Assessment resulting in the thorough report available here. How was the study conducted?

Phase One: Holleran studied secondary data comprised of data obtained from existing reputable resources, including the U.S. Census Bureau and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For all demographic and health indicator statistics, data from Richmond City, VA, and Henrico County, VA, were incorporated.

Phase Two: Key informants – professionals working in senior services throughout greater Richmond – responded to a targeted survey to identify barriers and challenges to healthy aging in our region.

Phase Three: Seniors from greater Richmond responded to a targeted survey gathering their perspectives from a consumer point of view.

This data-rich report is full of testimony and identifies the key findings of this assessment. Feel free to use this information however you set fit.

Key Findings of Needs Assesment (Executive Summary)

Community Needs Assessment (Full Report)

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