By Emma Young
Westminster Ingleside Foundation Executive Director Robert Lancelotta has seen the personal difference the organization makes. It provides financial assistance for residents of Westminster senior living communities, who have outlived their own income and assets at any Westminster site: Lake Ridge, Virginia; King Farm, Maryland; or Rock Creek, Washington, DC. At one site, a resident told Lancelotta she hadn’t been to the dentist in years, fearing she wouldn’t have enough money to pay for ongoing care. “‘Make an appointment right away and go,’” Lancelotta recalled telling her. “‘I don’t want you to worry anymore. This fund is here for you. We’ll figure it out, and you’ll be fine,’” he reassured her.
“People work their whole lives and thought they had prepared well to retire,” Lancelotta explained. “Yet people are living longer. That particular resident is healthy, and I’m sure will be with us for a long time. As is the case for many, there is no ability to get income elsewhere. We’re pleased to offer this help to our residents.”
Diverse Range of Opportunities Await
Founded in 1993, Westminster at Lake Ridge has 140 independent living apartments and 95 cottages, housing collectively about 300 independent living residents, and there is a waiting list. That may be in part due to its popular activities, programs and amenities. “We love where we are, and the family knows we’re happy,” noted two “happy Westminster at Lake Ridge residents” (neither of whom receives direct foundation assistance), Joseph Fleig and Mary Ellen Saville, who responded together in an e-mail interview. “It provides such a diverse range of opportunities for enhanced quality of life for almost anyone,” they wrote. Lancelotta expounded: “Each month the community has a calendar full of life enrichment opportunities…including Pickleball, Italian lessons, Tai Chi, Zumba, spiritual services, art groups, singing groups, support groups, and much more. There are also many amenities on the campus that residents can use: a woodworking shop, the large garden to grow vegetables or flowers, the library to enjoy a book, or the pool to take a swim.”
The help the Westminster Ingleside Foundation provides to ensure the community maintains these high standards and offerings, in addition to the support it provides residents, is substantial. “In the past five years, the foundation has provided $620,000 in total program support to Westminster at Lake Ridge: $406,000 in benevolent care and $214,000 in other program support and capital improvements,” Lancelotta said. This provides for the total living expenses for residents in need and assisting residents in other ways. For example, recent enterprises include “capital projects that improve handicap accessibility within our main building, the purchase of a specialized van to transport individuals in wheelchairs and monies in support of music and art programs,” Lancelotta explained.
Residents Still Active and Give Back to Local Community
This atmosphere of generous support is reflected in the Westminster at Lake Ridge residents, who give back to the community both within and outside Westminster itself. Westminster at Lake Ridge resident Fran Stockdale described one innovative way residents give to the community through a tutoring program she leads in partnership with nearby Rockledge Elementary School. A group of Westminster residents goes twice per month throughout the school year to K-3 classrooms and works one-on-one with students to assist them in improving reading, math, and language arts skills. The residents develop strong relationships with the students over the school year. “We love the program and wouldn’t miss it. We really enjoy seeing the children progress throughout the school year, and the teachers are extremely gracious. The students often ask, “‘When are you coming back?’” Stockdale said.
In addition, many residents seek to support the foundation itself. The annual fundraising gala on New Year’s Eve is run with the assistance of residents and attended by many. Last year the gala raised over $34,000 to include both cash and gifts-in-kind. Cash gifts, bequests, and gifts of property are given as well. “Many residents generously opt to leave a gift to the community as part of their estate plans. For example, we just received an estate gift from a recent resident of Westminster at Lake Ridge for $137,000,” Lancelotta said.
Residents Larry and Glea Kreider started their own charity to give back to the Westminster community. The Kreider Professional Development Endowment Fund provides select Westminster at Lake Ridge employees with monies to further their education.
“Looking into the future, we know that Westminster at Lake Ridge and its sister communities (Ingleside at Rock Creek and Ingleside at King Farm) will depend on the resources of the foundation more than ever,” said Lancelotta. This includes the organization’s efforts to enhance and expand a memory support program at all three communities to provide innovative dementia care, and its goal of implementing a training program at Westminster at Lake Ridge that assists high school seniors in becoming certified nursing assistants and home health aides.
“Westminster has benefitted us by removing many of the strains that weigh on seniors (home maintenance, access to health care, good nutrition, to name a few) and providing a comfortable, supportive and enriching community,” Fleig and Saville wrote. Those are goals we can all support.
Emma Young (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a freelance writer and Montclair resident.