Posted by Guide to Retirement Living SourceBook on 07/18/2017

Breaking New Ground

Breaking New Ground

Every successful construction project begins with a strong foundation. The same could be said for every healthy relationship and flourishing community. You have to start from the ground up to build something that will stand the test of time—and the many tests of daily life.

Frank Simmonds sees this every day at the local retirement community he calls home, Springwell Senior Living Community. Springwell is located in the historic Mount Washington neighborhood in Baltimore, Md. The community offers independent living, assisted living, and memory care on a 15-acre, resort-like campus.

A native of Baltimore, Frank left the city as a young man and joined the U.S. Army. During World War II, he was stationed in England, where he worked as a typist at a supply depot. After the war, Frank returned to Baltimore and his previous job as a data processor at the B&O Railroad. Later, he received training from the railroad to become a computer programmer, joining a profession that was in its infancy.

While working at the railroad, Frank met his first wife, Boots, and the couple had two children, Stan and Frank. After they divorced, both Frank and Boots married other people. However, they were reunited when their spouses passed away, and they both became residents at Springwell. “After we both moved here, Boots and I were together again, so the family was together again,” Frank said of this unique situation.

Even before Boots joined him at Springwell, Frank had several other strong connections to the community. The first connection dates back to 1971, when Frank’s grandmother, Edith, moved to The Wesley Home, the community located in the building that now houses Springwell. During the eleven years that his grandmother lived in the community, Frank visited often and knew the staff and the building well.

Frank was also connected to the community through a friend, Helen Glasgow. After his second wife passed away, Frank became very active in the Reisterstown United Methodist Church, where he met Helen. The couple spent a lot of time together before Frank started to notice some puzzling behaviors and increasing forgetfulness.

“Helen got worse and worse,” Frank recalled. “Before I knew it, I was having to make her dinner and manage her bank account. I was doing everything. When she got sick and ended up in the hospital, her sons realized she needed more support and decided to move her to Springwell.”

Frank visited Helen often at the community and became more interested in the lifestyle. “I had been living alone for fifteen years, and I couldn’t handle it anymore,” he said. “I chose to live here, and I moved here by myself. I was very excited to join this community.”

On his first day as a resident of Springwell, Frank recalled receiving a security pendant, a resident handbook and a copy of the community newsletter. “The next morning, I entered the main hall, stopped, looked around and thought, ‘This is my home,’” he said. “I knew it was exactly where I wanted to be!”

For Frank, the transition to his new community was easier due to his willingness to get involved. He uses the community newsletter to peruse all the activities offered on a daily basis. He participates in a wide variety of activities, including religious services, professional entertainment, classes, games and trips.

One of Frank’s favorite events is the monthly “Fireside Chats” with the Executive Director of Springwell, Phil Golden. “During these chats, Phil gives us updates on everything that is happening in the community, and we have the chance to ask questions,” Frank explained. “The management involvement doesn’t end there. I can always stop Phil and talk to him anytime I see him, and all the staff is easily accessible.”

Between the caring staff and the world-class accommodations, Frank could not be happier with Springwell. “I always say that the staff must have attended charm school, because they are all so helpful and so nice,” Frank said. “As for the building, it is just beautiful. It is really very special.”

In fact, the beauty of the building is something that Frank remembers from his long-ago visits with his grandmother. “I was here when the Wesley was operating at its peak,” he said. “I often imagine that I’m sitting in the same dining room and chapel that she sat in. When I could no longer live alone, I was happy to come back to the building that I knew and loved.”

Of course, the community has changed quite a bit since the 70s, and the changes that are underway now promise to be the most impressive yet. Construction has already started on The Homestead, a new independent living community on the Springwell campus that will feature 99 modern residences.

“I have been here for six and a half years, and I have enjoyed superb care, security and a pleasant lifestyle,” said Frank. “I know that Springwell will provide that same quality of life for the 99 new residents.”

During the official groundbreaking ceremony for The Homestead on May 16, Frank and several other residents were asked to share a word of wisdom with the audience. “Be grateful for anything that comes your way,” Frank said. He certainly has been.

Frank has always been appreciative of the people and the opportunities that life has presented. Most recently, he was enormously thankful for the chance to move to Springwell, and he has made the most of every day in his new community. He is active and involved, and he encourages others to follow suit. For this reason, he is known as the “unofficial mayor” of the community—a title he relishes and deserves.

Springwell’s foundation is strong, and its community connections are deep. While the community may be 86 years old, its commitment to serving people is timeless. It is this commitment that ensures that the community will be around and be breaking new ground—for generations to come.

By Christy Brudin


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