Category Archives: Corporate Office

LifeSpire advances its relationship with the National Institute of Fitness and Sport

07/18/16

By staff

RICHMOND, Virginia—LifeSpire of Virginia, formerly Virginia Baptist Homes, is advancing its relationship with the National Institute of Fitness and Sport (NIFS) as NIFS assumes management of the fitness program at The Chesapeake, a LifeSpire continuing care retirement community in Newport News. NIFS currently manages the fitness program at Lakewood, a LifeSpire community in Richmond’s West End.

“We are pleased that NIFS is now managing fitness in two of our communities,” said Mick Feauto, LifeSpire’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. “They will be very instrumental in developing a comprehensive wellness program that will be implemented in all of our communities.”

NIFS is an industry leader in designing and executing holistic wellness programs for seniors. In January, NIFS signed an agreement with LifeSpire to provide the following services:

  • Personal training, personalized exercise programs, fitness testing, and equipment orientation
  • Group fitness classes
  • Data analysis
  • Health-Related educational sessions, life-long learning opportunities, nutritional coaching, and weight-loss programs
  • Cross-department collaboration
  • Implementation of Incentive and Wellness programs

Research shows that an active lifestyle can lessen the challenges and increase the opportunities associated with aging. LifeSpire seeks to provide an environment within its four communities that offers aging adults programs, guidance, and support for healthy aging. The partnership with NIFS helps LifeSpire residents take charge of their health and wellness and improve their overall quality of life.

For more information on NIFS, visit wellness.NIFS.org.

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Ann Lovell is corporate director of communications for LifeSpire of Virginia, formerly Virginia Baptist Homes. For more information, email alovell@lifespireliving.org or call (804) 521-9192.

LifeSpire of Virginia operates four continuing care retirement communities in Virginia: The Chesapeake in Newport News, The Culpeper in Culpeper, The Glebe in Daleville and Lakewood in Richmond.

 

Faith matters

07/18/16

By Ann Lovell

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Helen Wood enjoys the fresh air and exercise at Lakewood, a LifeSpire of Virginia community in Richmond’s West End.

RICHMOND, Virginia—Helen Wood wears a Fitbit. She doesn’t always reach 10,000 steps a day, she says, but she tries to go over 5,000. Wood, a resident of Lakewood in Richmond’s West End, recently attended her 60th college reunion at the University of Richmond. She is a member of Virginia Baptist Women in Ministry and also serves on numerous boards, including  the Virginia Baptist Historical Society.

“The key to successful attitudes about aging is to find hobbies and interests beyond your work,” Wood says. “I have many outside interests, but all are within my faith sphere.”

Faith matters to Wood, and for many senior adults like her, the interplay of faith, community and wellness — LifeSpire’s core values — often yields positive results. In fact, a 2010 study on spirituality and aging concludes that faith and religious participation are as important as diet, exercise and social connectedness to successful aging, leading not only to longevity but also to higher satisfaction and a better quality of life.

Tom Crittenden, a resident of The Chesapeake in Newport News, agrees.

“My faith is nourished through my church activities and service on (The Chesapeake’s) worship and spiritual life committee,” Crittenden says. “We are one big family here. … By staying busy in church, overall, I have a better life.”

FAITH DOESN’T CHANGE

But faith is nothing new to Crittenden and Wood. Both say that faith has been an important part of their lives since they were children.

Crittenden grew up Methodist. His mother died a day after Crittenden was born, and his uncle and aunt, whom he describes as “good Christian folks,” adopted him.

“Church was a part of life,” Crittenden says. “My mother taught Sunday school, and I was baptized in the Methodist church.”

Likewise, Wood’s faith has been vital to her throughout her life. “I grew up in faith,” Wood says. “I had Christian parents and grandparents. As a pre-teen, I felt that there was something special I should be doing, and God opened doors for me.”

After college, seminary and marriage, Wood and her husband, Rudy who died in 2008, served 15 years in Europe as international missionaries through the then-Foreign Mission Board (FMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention (now IMB). Later Wood served on staff at the FMB mobilizing college students for a variety of international mission opportunities. She also worked with the Virginia Woman’s Missionary Union.

“My faith hasn’t changed over the years,” Wood explains. “It’s who I am. I try to live my life not out of obligation but out of gratitude.”

Julie Walton, who along with Louise Mason serves as chaplain at Lakewood, agrees that faith is life-long. “Faith is important to us for all of our lives,” Walton says. “Faith doesn’t change. It gives meaning and hope in difficult circumstances.”

“Faith takes over when there are no more answers,” says Gerald Carter, chaplain at The Glebe in Daleville. “It’s a belief that the triune God is active in our lives every day.”

“Faith equips us to deal with life’s difficulties such as loss, fear and illness,” says Nancy Hayes, chaplain at The Chesapeake. “Some of the things happening to (our residents) are a slippery slope. Walking through these issues together helps us support, comfort, and encourage one another.”

GOD’S LOVE LIVED OUT

From its beginnings, LifeSpire of Virginia (formerly Virginia Baptist Homes) has been an organization rooted in the Christian faith and centered in Jesus Christ. “Love God and love people,” Jesus told his disciples. “These are the greatest commandments” (Matthew 22:36-40, paraphrased). LifeSpire seeks to promote an organizational culture where God’s love is lived-out among residents, families and staff.

This faith-based distinction is a difference you can feel, says Mason. “The atmosphere here is genuine. People live it,” Mason says. “Nobody here needs to be reminded, and the staff embodies it as much as the residents.”

Carter agrees, “God lives in this place in a special way.”

For Hayes, the faith-based distinction also means welcoming those from a variety of different backgrounds. “We work hard to accept people who have different faith perspectives,” Hayes says. “We focus on what binds us together, rather than what separates us.”

Hayes, who encourages residents to stay active in their local churches, also offers an ecumenical worship service Sunday afternoons. Crittenden, for example, attends his Methodist church Sunday mornings, where he has served as a trustee and is active in the Methodist men’s group. Then, on Sunday afternoons, he helps set up the sound system for the 3 p.m. ecumenical service at The Chesapeake.

“Some of our residents can’t get out Sundays, so they meet with us at 3 p.m.,” Crittenden explains. “We usually have between 65 and 100 people for  Sunday afternoon worship.”

WHEN MEMORY FAILS

While participation in faith-based activities helps provide active seniors with a sense of purpose and well-being, faith is also important to seniors suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, Mason explains. She recalls an instance when she worked on a psychiatric ward early in her career.

“One of the patients had written his own gospel hymns,” Mason says. “He had difficulty communicating, but he sat down at a piano in a commons area and began to play and sing those old hymns. People came out of their rooms to listen. It was a holy moment.”

While dementia and Alzheimer’s disease rob a person of short-term memory, a deeply rooted faith can continue to thrive even as memories fade, Mason says.

“Memory care residents who may not know what day it is can recall a particular church experience from their childhood,” Mason says.

Walton agrees, “Faith taps into a really deep part of you. It transcends day-to-day living.”

Faith also removes anxiety about the future, says Wood, who believes in an afterlife.

“I couldn’t begin to list all the miracles in my life, but they are proof to me that God cares about us individually,” Wood says.

“Today is a gift, and there’s no promise for tomorrow,” she continues. “I’m in God’s hands, and I feel very confident about that.”

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Ann Lovell is corporate director of communications at LifeSpire of Virginia, formerly Virginia Baptist Homes. She can be reached at (804) 521-9192 or by email at alovell@lifespireliving.org.

The Chesapeake wins Gold Award from Coastal Virginia Magazine

05/27/16

By Ann Lovell

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The Chesapeake’s Executive Director Mark Woodard receives The Coastal Virginia Gold Award for best retirement community from Brenda Whitlow.

NEWPORT NEWS, Virginia—The Chesapeake, a LifeSpire of Virginia continuing care retirement community in Newport News, won the Gold Award from Coastal Virginia magazine for the best retirement community on the Virginia Peninsula.

“This is a significant award and a reason to celebrate,” said Liz Gee, The Chesapeake’s Director of Sales and Marketing. “More than 200,000 votes were cast in all categories, including the Southside and Peninsula, and we rose to the top.”

2016 Best of Readers' Choice LogoThe Coastal Virginia Magazine’s Best of Readers’ Choice Awards allow readers to recognize individuals and businesses that “continually give us their best,” according to the magazine’s website. In addition to retirement living, other categories include food and dining, shopping, health and beauty, home and garden, professional services, arts and entertainment and many others.

“We congratulate The Chesapeake for this award and for their outstanding service,” said Jonathan Cook, LifeSpire president and CEO. “At the same time, this award is really no surprise. Superb customer service and commitment to quality care are hallmarks of the LifeSpire brand.”


Ann Lovell is Corporate Director of Communications for LifeSpire of Virginia, formerly Virginia Baptist Homes. For more information, email alovell@lifespireliving.org or call (804) 521-9192.

LifeSpire of Virginia operates four continuing care retirement communities in Virginia: The Chesapeake in Newport News, The Culpeper in Culpeper, The Glebe in Daleville and Lakewood in Richmond.

LifeSpire partners with Virginia Baptist Foundation to award scholarship

05/25/16

By Ann Lovell

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Jonathan Carter of Graceland Baptist Church in Powhatan is the 2016-17 recipient of a Virginia Baptist Foundation scholarship sponsored by LifeSpire of Virginia.

RICHMOND, Virginia—In partnership with the Virginia Baptist Foundation (VBF), LifeSpire of Virginia, formerly Virginia Baptist Homes, awarded a scholarship for the 2016-17 academic year to Jonathan Carter in a ceremony May 22 at Gayton Baptist Church. Carter, a certified nurse aide and member of Graceland Baptist Church in Powhatan, is pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from Virginia Commonwealth University.

“We appreciate the opportunity to give back to Virginia Baptists by sponsoring this scholarship,” said Jonathan Cook, LifeSpire president and CEO. “We are grateful for the support Virginia Baptists have given to us throughout our 70-year history, and we look forward to future partnership opportunities.”

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Ron Hall, Virginia Baptist Foundation president and CEO, introduces the 2016-17 VBF scholarship recipients in a May 22 ceremony at Gayton Baptist Church.

In applying for the scholarship, Carter credited his mother as the inspiration for his decision to pursue a career in health care. Herself a nurse, she also suffered a workplace injury that caused her to undergo two major spinal surgeries. Carter’s experience as the child of a caregiver and the family member of a patient motivates him to become the best care provider he can be.

In 20 years Carter hopes to have completed medical school along with the internships, residencies and fellowships necessary for a career in neurosurgery, he said. He also plans to attend seminary.

“I believe that healing takes part on both the physical and spiritual (level),” Carter wrote. “I want to be able to have a fuller understanding of the Word, to be more comfortable and knowledgeable to share it, and (to) promote a more complete healing for people.”

The Virginia Baptist Foundation awarded $156,000 in total scholarships to 90 recipients from a pool of 131 applicants, said Ron Hall, VBF president and CEO.

“This is both a record number of recipients as well as dollar amount for this ministry,” Hall said.


Ann Lovell is Corporate Director of Communications for LifeSpire of Virginia, formerly Virginia Baptist Homes. For more information, email alovell@lifespireliving.org or call (804) 521-9192.

LifeSpire of Virginia operates four continuing care retirement communities in Virginia: The Chesapeake in Newport News, The Culpeper in Culpeper, The Glebe in Daleville and Lakewood in Richmond.

The Culpeper’s bridge club provides social connections, mental fitness for residents

05/23/16

Editor’s note: In celebration of Older Americans Month, LifeSpire of Virginia is featuring one or two residents a week from its four continuing care retirement communities who most embody the characteristics of a “trailblazer” in wellness, community and hospitality.

By Ann Lovell

CULPEPER, Virginia—Jean Isaacson, 72, was disappointed there wasn’t a bridge club at The Culpeper, the LifeSpire of Virginia continuing care retirement community where she’s lived since 2013. An accountant who had started her own business in 1980, Isaacson learned to play bridge as a teen and taught the game when she lived in Chicago from 1972-1975.

Then she met Lila Bunt, 89, another avid bridge player who has lived at The Culpeper since 2011.

“Lila and I were walking from ‘the big house’ (the building that houses the dining room and community center) to our cottages,” Isaacson recalls. “I told her how I wished we had a bridge club. ‘Let’s start one!’ Lila said. So we did.”

Bunt laughs. “Two heads plus a need equals a bridge club,” she says.

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Jean Isaacson (left) and Lila Bunt (right) discuss how bridge club began at The Culpeper, the LifeSpire of Virginia continuing care retirement community where they live.

The two women started the club with one table in 2013. Then, they asked Pat Ballard, The Culpeper’s Director of Resident Services, to add it to the The Culpeper’s activities’ calendar each month. Soon Bunt and Isaacson were offering weekly classes to those interested in learning the game. Eight players joined a cruise the group took in early 2015, and today the group has grown to 14.

“We need two more players to have four tables,” Isaacson says.

Isaacson and Bunt are two of LifeSpire’s featured trailblazers during Older Americans Month in May. The U.S. Administration for Community Living sets aside May each year to recognize the contributions of older Americans. The 2016 theme is “Blaze a Trail.” Ballard recommended the two women for their initiative in starting the bridge club.

“LifeSpire trailblazers model wellness, community, and hospitality,” agrees Jonathan Cook, LifeSpire President and CEO. “By starting the bridge club, Mrs. Isaacson and Mrs. Bunt showed the kind of community spirit we appreciate from all our residents.”

‘MENTAL GYMNASTICS’

Bridge evolved from the British card game whist and dates back to the 1700s. In 1925 railroad heir Harold Stirling Vanderbilt created the modern version of contract bridge, the version The Culpeper club plays. According to David Owen of The New Yorker, Vanderbilt “had been annoyed by what he felt were deficiencies in the previous version, auction bridge.” Contract bridge caught on quickly, especially as the Great Depression set in, and by the 1940s, 44 percent of American families played the game.

Today, an estimated 25 million Americans enjoy bridge, including such notables as Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, who often play as a team. The majority of bridge players are over age 50, says Jon Saraceno in an article for AARP.

“Bridge’s intricacies make it particularly appealing for those who want to sharpen acuity with mental gymnastics,” Saraceno writes. “A study in 2000 at the University of California Berkeley, found strong evidence that an area in the brain used in playing bridge stimulates the immune system. Researchers suggest that is because players must use memory, visualization and sequencing.”

Additional research by Dr. Claudia Kawas of the University of California Irvine, seems to indicate bridge, with its added social element, may have a slight edge over other mental games in staving off dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

“We think, for example, that it’s very important to use your brain, to keep challenging your mind, but all mental activities may not be equal,” Kawas says. “We’re seeing some evidence that a social component may be crucial.”

A REWARDING PURSUIT

Isaacson and Bunt carve out lots of time each week for bridge. The two women teach bridge on Wednesdays, developing lessons based on the book, “The Fun Way to Advanced Bridge” by Harry Lampert.

“Many of those who come last played in college,” Bunt says. “It’s a great way to welcome new residents to the community.”

The group plays together at The Culpeper on Fridays. Isaacson plays with a group at her home on Saturdays, and Bunt and her husband, John, play Tuesday evenings at the local country club with people from the greater Culpeper community.

When they aren’t playing bridge, the two women are also involved in other activities in their community. Bunt and her husband regularly work in the food pantry at their local church, St. Stephens Episcopal in downtown Culpeper. Isaacson reads to an older friend, plays rummy with older residents, and enjoys caring for her granddaughter one day a week.

Still, bridge has provided a strong bond between the two women and allowed them to forge friendships with other residents as well.

“It’s very rewarding,” Bunt says. “It keeps us busy and provides a lot of good laughs.”


Ann Lovell is Corporate Director of Communications for LifeSpire of Virginia, formerly Virginia Baptist Homes. For more information, email alovell@lifespireliving.org or call (804) 521-9192.

LifeSpire of Virginia operates four continuing care retirement communities in Virginia: The Chesapeake in Newport News, The Culpeper in Culpeper, The Glebe in Daleville and Lakewood in Richmond.

Paula Levine inspires generations of dancers

05/16/16

Editor’s note: In celebration of Older Americans Month, LifeSpire of Virginia is featuring one resident a week from its four continuing care retirement communities who most embodies the characteristics of a “trailblazer” in wellness, community and hospitality.

By Ann Lovell

DALEVILLE, Virginia—Imagine rural Roanoke, Virginia, in 1955. The cost of a gallon of gas was 23 cents. The minimum hourly wage was $1.00, and the average cost of a new home was just over $10,000. It was a prosperous and peaceful time for many Americans, blissfully unaware that the turbulent 60s were just a few years away. For Paula Levine, 1955 marks the year she arrived at Hollins College — now Hollins University, an all-women’s liberal arts school outside Roanoke — to teach modern dance.

“Paula Levine pioneered the modern dance program at Hollins,” says Jeffrey Bullock, director and associate professor of M.F.A. Dance. “She brought modern dance to the Roanoke Valley.”

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AN INSPIRATION—Paula Levine, 88, pioneered modern dance at Hollins University outside Roanoke and continues to inspire younger generations of dancers.

Levine, now 88, is a resident of The Glebe, a LifeSpire of Virginia continuing care retirement community in Daleville, Virginia, near Hollins. As a result of her contributions to modern dance, Levine is one of LifeSpire’s featured trailblazers during this year’s Older Americans Month. The U.S. Administration for Community Living sets aside May each year to recognize the contributions of older Americans. The 2016 theme is “Blaze a Trail.”

“Ms. Levine’s legacy as a modern dancer and dance professor reminds us of the importance of the arts to health, wellness and longevity,” says Jonathan Cook, LifeSpire President and CEO. “Her continued commitment to dance and to a younger generation of dancers is an inspiration.”

Ben Burks, executive director of The Glebe, agrees, “Ms. Levine demonstrates the ‘life in abundance’ we strive to provide for each of our residents at The Glebe. She swims, she travels, and she is an active member of our community. Her energy inspires us all.”

FINDING THEIR VOICE

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Paula Levine dances in New York. (Photo courtesy of Paula Levine).

Modern dance began in the early 1900s in part as a rebellion against ballet, which in comparison is rigid and codified, and in part as a reflection of changing social mores at the turn of the 20th century. Modern dance pioneers like Doris Humphrey and Martha Graham, whose work significantly influenced Levine, “made up the rules as they went,” Bullock says. The form, which includes dancing barefoot with a focus on natural movement, ushered in an era of individual expression through dance.

“Women found their voice in modern dance outside the confines of ballet,” Bullock says.

Although Levine majored in English Literature at Brooklyn College, she began dancing at age 13 under the tutelage of Katya Delakova.

“Katya Delakova sparked my love for modern dance,” Levine says.

Later, the young woman also studied under Sophie Maslow, another modern dance pioneer who helped set the course of Levine’s life work. After a brief stint at Julliard, Levine received a teaching fellowship at Bennington College in Vermont where she received a Master of Arts.

“I wanted to follow my passion and do something I loved,” Levine says. “It wasn’t always easy.”

The young woman’s father didn’t want her to be “a parasite,” Levine explains. He didn’t think she could earn a living in the arts.

“Later, though, when I became a professor at Hollins, he was proud of me,” Levine says with a smile.

In most colleges and universities at the time, dance came in through the “back door” of physical education, Levine says. At Hollins, dance was part of the theater program. This focus on modern dance as a performing art gave Levine opportunity to pursue new forms of artistic expression that took her around the world and allowed her to develop life-long friendships in the process.

“The late 60s were heavily influenced by Asian ideas,” Levine recalls. “In 1969, I took a sabbatical to study Asian dance forms.”

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Paula Levine (front, center) with her students at Hollins. (Photo courtesy of Paula Levine).

She traveled to Hawaii, Japan, and Bali before making her way to Bangkok, Thailand. A Thai student at Hollins whose father was a diplomat arranged for her to study with a dance instructor in Bangkok named Lawan. The two women became good friends and developed a professional dance collaboration that lasted many years.

“We combined modern dance and Thai dance,” Levine recalls. Together the two women produced Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” in Thai style.

As their friendship and collaboration grew, Lawan visited Levine many times and offered master classes and performances throughout Virginia. Levine has traveled to Thailand 21 times since that initial visit in 1969. Lawan’s son, Top, attended North Cross School in Roanoke and lived with Levine from 1990-95. Top and his children are like family to Levine, and though she thought she had made her last trip to visit them in 2013, she visited again in 2015. Though traveling around the world is sometimes difficult, she enjoys spending time with her friends and watching the children grow.

INSPRING FUTURE GENERATIONS

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The Paula Levine Choreographers Contest held each year at Hollins University honors Paula Levine’s legacy and is open to sophomore and juniors girls in high school or preparatory school. (Photo courtesy of Hollins University).

Levine no longer dances, but as professor emerita of Hollins, she continues to help young women express themselves through modern dance. Bullock established The Paula Levine Choreographers Contest at Hollins to honor Levine’s continuing legacy. The contest awards prizes for the most developed solo dance composition submitted by sophomore or junior girls in high school or preparatory school.

“My students who come back tell me that dance enriched their lives,” Levine says.

Although Levine no longer dances, she swims almost every day, enjoying the saltwater pool at The Glebe where she lives.

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Paula Levine enjoys swimming in The Glebe’s saltwater pool. At 88, she still swims almost every day.

“People comment on what a beautiful swimmer I am,” Levine says. “I think it is because I was a dancer. People seem to think I have a lot of grace in the water.”

“I find that amusing,” she adds, “because I’ve never had formal swimming lessons.”


Ann Lovell is Corporate Director of Communications for LifeSpire of Virginia, formerly Virginia Baptist Homes. For more information, email alovell@lifespireliving.org or call (804) 521-9192.

LifeSpire of Virginia operates four continuing care retirement communities in Virginia: The Chesapeake in Newport News, The Culpeper in Culpeper, The Glebe in Daleville and Lakewood in Richmond.


 

NBC 12 and The Coming “Age Wave”

On Monday, May 9, NBC 12 reporter Allison Norlian interviewed 100-year-old Lakewood resident Buddy Hamilton and LifeSpire Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations Peter Robinson for a story on Richmond’s coming “age wave.” To prepare for the vast numbers of adults entering retirement, Lakewood is expanding its community to include 65 new independent living residences, redesigned commons and amenity spaces, and multiple new dining venues.

If you missed the video, watch it here. To learn more about Lakewood’s expansion and how you can  get in on the “ground level,” contact Donna Buhrman, dbuhrman@vbh.org or (804) 521-9100.

Ted and Baerbel Schaller model life and love worth living

05/09/16

Editor’s note: In celebration of OLDER AMERICANS MONTH and the theme “Blaze a Trail,” LifeSpire of Virginia is featuring one resident a week from its four continuing care retirement communities who most embodies the characteristics of a “trailblazer” in wellness, community and hospitality.

By Ann Lovell

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LAUGHING TOGETHER—Ted and Bell Schaller laugh together as they share the story of how they met and fell in love in Germany in the 1970s.

NEWPORT NEWS, Virginia—She calls him, “My Ted.” He says he always gets the last word: “Yes, dear.”

Ted and Baerbel Schaller obviously love each other. The couple, both 76, will celebrate their 42nd wedding anniversary in June. The couple’s devotion to one another is well-known among residents and staff of The Chesapeake in Newport News, a LifeSpire of Virginia continuing care retirement community, where they’ve lived since 2010.

“They still hold hands walking from their cottage to the dining room. They are an inspiration,” says Patricia Morris, LifeSpire vice president and head of the VBH Foundation, LifeSpire’s benevolence arm.

The Schallers also model wellness, community and hospitality, which is why they are two of LifeSpire’s featured trailblazers during Older Americans Month in May, says Jonathan Cook, LifeSpire President and CEO. The U.S. Administration for Community Living sets aside May each year to recognize the contributions of older Americans. The 2016 theme is “Blaze a Trail.”

“The Schallers are true ambassadors for The Chesapeake,” Cook says. “They represent all that it means to be part of a LifeSpire community.”

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ENJOYING LIFE—Ted and Bell Schaller relax in the pool at The Chesapeake, a LifeSpire of Virginia continuing care retirement community in Newport News. The couple regularly uses the community’s pool, hot tub and fitness center to meet a variety of fitness goals.

The Schallers look for every opportunity to be involved in The Chesapeake’s myriad activities. Ted bikes 20 miles three times a week, and Baerbel claims he is “addicted to exercise.” She serves on the activities committee and the chorus committee, and both serve on the worship and spiritual life committee and as music librarians. From “aqua ease” in the community’s indoor pool to exercise class to creative arts to chorus, the Schallers’ involvement and energy seem boundless.

“We moved in six years ago at age 70. It was the best time to do it because there is so much to do,” says Baerbel, who goes by her nickname, Bell, she says, because many people can’t pronounce her German name.

“THIS MUST BE THE PLACE”

The couple first learned about the community when they attended an AARP refresher driving class hosted at The Chesapeake in 2009.

“We can’t afford this,” Ted and Bell said to each other at the time, admiring the many amenities of the community. Ted is a retired U.S. Army sergeant who worked for the U.S. Postal Service in Newport News. Bell is a homemaker who manages the couple’s finances.

“He makes the money, and I spend the money,” Bell quips.

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ARTWORK—Bell Schaller displays Ukrainian eggs she made in a creative art class at The Chesapeake. She has decorated her home with ceramics and other artwork she created in classes there.

But working with Liz Gee, The Chesapeake’s marketing director, the couple realized affordable options were available to them. The couple also paid a refundable deposit to add their names to a waiting list. This program, now called The Chesapeake Club, allowed them to use the community’s amenities at no additional charge. They also put their house of 34 years on the market — in the middle of the U.S. housing crash.

“Our house was on the market a year,” Bell says. “We moved in anyway.”

“There’s no place like this place so this must be the place!” Ted exclaims.

He continues, “The Chesapeake had the right feel, but two things sold me on it. One … being able to use all the amenities before we moved in. Two: If we run out of funds through no fault of our own, they won’t put us out on the street.”

“This is why we make contributions to the benevolence fund,” Bell says. “We know the benevolence fund helps keep people in their homes.”

The couple also appreciates the faith-based nature of The Chesapeake. Neither Ted nor Bell was “raised in church,” Bell says. Ted’s father immigrated to the U.S. from Austria, and he describes himself as Catholic. Bell grew up in East Germany where worship was forbidden and describes herself as Lutheran. Both say religion plays a part in their lives now, and both serve as ushers in the nondenominational worship service that meets weekly at The Chesapeake.

“The Schallers are ‘utility players,’” says Nancy Hayes, chaplain at The Chesapeake. “I know I can count on them.”

But it isn’t so much “religion” or religious activities that inspire the Schallers as the way that faith-based attitudes play out in their everyday interactions with The Chesapeake’s staff and other residents. “Respect” is one word Ted uses, incidentally the same word he uses to describe the success of their marriage. “Honesty” and “trust” are others.

“People treat each other differently in a faith-based community,” Bell says. “They talk differently to one another. Nobody talks nasty here.”

“Everyone is honest,” Ted says. “It has a calming effect.”

A LIFETIME TOGETHER

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AN EXPRESSION OF LOVE—This Scrabble curio is displayed in the Schaller’s cottage at The Chesapeake where they have lived since 2010. It is just one tangible example of the love the Schallers express for one another.

Respect, honesty and trust are not only hallmarks of the couple’s relationships with other people; those characteristics have been the foundation of the couple’s relationship with one another since their first meeting in a small West German village in 1974. Bell, whose family lived in East Germany, left the communist state in 1955 when she was 15 years old.

“When I finished my schooling in East Germany, I had the choice of becoming a blacksmith or a mason,” Bell says. “My parents said, ‘No.’” So, the young woman moved to West Germany to live with her aunt and uncle.

Ted, who was stationed with the U.S. Army in West Germany, first spotted Bell at a party in an adjoining village. She didn’t notice him. A few months later, a young American military couple who rented their home from Bell needed a driver to take them to the airport. Ted showed up with the car. Bell didn’t speak much English — as an East German, she had learned Russian in school. Ted, who understood some German, was studying the language. He asked Bell to help him with his German homework.

“We were married six months later,” Ted says, proudly. “It took me three tours to Germany to find her.”

To this day, the two still speak German in their home.

A LIFESTYLE WORTH IMITATING

The couple’s only regret in a lifetime of happiness is that they have no children.

“I love children,” Bell says. “I always wanted children.”

In 1976, the couple filed paperwork to adopt but were advised that the military lifestyle was too unstable for a child. Still, they recognize that the life and love they share is unique and fulfilling.

“We never fight. We have no kids, so there’s no reason,” Ted quips.

“And, we have nieces and nephews, and we have the big family of The Chesapeake,” Bell says.

In particular, her nephew, Sven, who lives in southern Germany, calls, texts and visits them often. They proudly show photos of Sven and the numerous trips they’ve made together.

“One time Sven told my Ted, ‘Uncle Ted, I never drink or smoke because you don’t do it,’” Bell says proudly.

Modeling good behavior for the next generation is important to the Schallers, not just for Sven’s benefit but for others as well.

Bell sums it up best.

“We want to live a life in front of people that they can look up to,” she says.


Ann Lovell is Corporate Director of Communications for LifeSpire of Virginia, formerly Virginia Baptist Homes. For more information, email alovell@lifespireliving.org or call (804) 521-9192.

LifeSpire of Virginia operates four continuing care retirement communities in Virginia: The Chesapeake in Newport News, The Culpeper in Culpeper, The Glebe in Daleville and Lakewood in Richmond.

‘Pay attention,’ 100-year-old Buddy Hamilton advises

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By Ann Lovell

Want to know the secrets to a long life? Buddy Hamilton has some advice.

Hamilton, who celebrated his 100th birthday May 3, is a resident of LifeSpire of Virginia’s Lakewood community in Richmond. Still very active in his church and community, Hamilton says the secret to his long life is finding balance among nutrition, lifestyle and spiritual vitality.

“A person can commit suicide by their diet,” Hamilton says. “I read a lot about nutrition. I eat a lot of plant food. I don’t eat much white bread or white carbs. I limit sweets, and I have a glass of wine several times a week.”

He has also learned to separate his day into “compartments of time” that allow him the right amounts of sleep, exercise and prayer. Finding the proper balance between the right kinds of foods and the right amounts of sleep allow him the greatest possible benefit. Hamilton says a regular, daily prayer time is also very important to him.

“I have a system of prayer that allows me to pray for many different groups of people and offer petitions on their behalf,” Hamilton says. “I spend about an hour every night in prayer, and I pray for different people on different days of the week. On Mondays, I pray for close friends, and I try to remember as many names as I can. On Wednesdays, I pray for all of the groups at First Baptist Church, Richmond, not always by name but by groups. On Fridays, I pray for each member of my family by name. On Saturdays, I pray for myself, being careful to give my thoughts and words to God.”

Hamilton’s “compartments of time” in his day also extend to seasons of life. Quoting Joel 2:28 from the Old Testament, Hamilton recites, “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.”

“As a young man, I was devoted to vision and planning,” Hamilton explains. “Now, I enjoy dreaming about my wife of 64 years (Edith, who died in 2004), and about those who went before.

It’s good for young people to spend time visualizing and planning the future,” Hamilton says. “They will have plenty of time to dream about the past later.”

But his most important piece of advice ties it all together.

“Listen to what God knows to be best,” Hamilton says, noting following “God’s best” brings the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of life into harmony.

“At least, that’s what I’ve found to be the case for me,” Hamilton says. “But it’s an individual endeavor. Every person must decide for himself.”


Ann Lovell is Corporate Director of Communication for LifeSpire of Virginia, formerly Virginia Baptist Homes. For more information, email alovell@lifespireliving.org or call (804) 521-9192.

LifeSpire of Virginia operates four continuing care retirement communities in Virginia: The Chesapeake in Newport News, The Culpeper in Culpeper, The Glebe in Daleville and Lakewood in Richmond.

At age 100, Lakewood resident Buddy Hamilton works among Richmond’s homeless

May 1, 2016

Editor’s note: In celebration of Older Americans Month and the theme “Blaze a Trail,” LifeSpire of Virginia is featuring one resident a week from its four continuing care retirement communities who most embodies the characteristics of a “trailblazer” in wellness, community and hospitality.

By Ann Lovell

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GOOD FRIEND—Buddy Hamilton, right, poses with Robert Taylor, 60, at First Baptist Church, Richmond. Taylor is a guest of the church’s homeless ministry where Hamilton regularly volunteers.

RICHMOND, Virginia—Many of the homeless in Richmond’s fan district know Buddy Hamilton by name.

“Buddy is a great guy,” says Robert Taylor, 60, a weekly guest of the homeless ministry of First Baptist Church, Richmond. “The way he greets people, his personality, I just love Buddy.”

“Robert and I have known each other a long time,” Hamilton agrees, smiling. The spry centenarian reaches around the taller, younger man to give him a pat on the back.

As a volunteer calls Robert to take his turn in the clothes closet, one of two uniformed police officers patiently answers a young woman’s questions. Other guests enjoy coffee and a pastry, waiting their turn for a shower or a snack bag. A few moments before, senior pastor Jim Somerville offered a short sermon. A few heads nodded as the pastor spoke, and some murmured an “Amen” or two. The atmosphere feels like family. Hamilton smiles as he surveys it all.

“This is a sanctuary for them,” Hamilton says. “There is no anxiety or fear here. They get to know the police, and the police get to know them. Because of that, they know they are safe.”

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ACTIVE VOLUNTEER—Buddy Hamilton signs in a guest of FBC Richmond’s homeless ministry for a shower. The ministry offers Richmond’s homeless showers, food and clothing four times a week at the downtown church.

Hamilton, who will celebrate his 100th birthday May 3, volunteers every week in the homeless ministry of the downtown Richmond church, where he has been a member 82 years. He drives himself and two friends, Al Astle, who will be 100 in August, and Jack Mitchell, 90. Astle and Mitchell also volunteer in the ministry.

“Buddy really takes ownership of the shower ministry,” says Vicky Nicholau, who coordinates the ministry as a volunteer. “He’s here every Wednesday. The guests love him.”

A resident of LifeSpire of Virginia’s Lakewood retirement community since 1999, Hamilton is one of LifeSpire’s featured trailblazers during Older Americans Month in May. The U.S. Administration for Community Living sets aside May each year to recognize the contributions of older Americans. The 2016 theme is “Blaze a Trail.”

“A LifeSpire trailblazer is a resident of one of our communities who models wellness, community and hospitality,” says Jonathan Cook, LifeSpire President and CEO. “We honor and respect Mr. Hamilton for his continuing contributions to our community.”

Hamilton seems to pay little attention to such accolades, but he has a glimmer in his eye when he offers his secret to a long life.

“Pay attention,” Hamilton says. “Listen to what God knows to be best.”

A LIFETIME OF HONOR   

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REMEMBERING—Buddy Hamilton poses in his apartment with a framed photo of himself, drawn by an artist in a café in Paris, France. To his left is a collage of photos compiled by his granddaughter in anticipation of his upcoming 100th birthday. “These days, I enjoy dreaming about the past,” Hamilton says.

Born in 1916 in a house built by his grandfather on Richmond’s Libbie Hill, Hamilton learned to fly when he was 18 years old on a gravel field at Richard E. Byrd flying field (now Richmond International Airport). Later, he was a captain for TWA’s international division in the north and south Atlantic. During World War II, most planes of value to the government were in the hands of commercial airlines, Hamilton explains. As a result, the government conscripted TWA and all other airlines to fly military missions, and TWA’s crews were some of the first to make long-range flights over water during daylight hours.

After the war Hamilton returned to Richmond and rejoined his family’s paper converting business. Eventually, he and his brother, Dick, bought the business from their father and ran it together for nearly 40 years. Hamilton retired in 1998 at age 82.

Throughout his life, Hamilton has also been active in FBC Richmond, where he has taught Sunday School and served as a deacon. He is the last elected “deacon for life,” and the Sunday School class he attends but no longer teaches — called “The Buddy Hamilton class” — is one of the church’s largest.

“It’s the only Sunday School class we have named for a person,” Somerville says.

But balancing his spiritual life and his professional life was often challenging, Hamilton acknowledges.

“For most of my life, I put a lot of effort into my business,” Hamilton says. “I had one foot in the secular world and one foot in the spiritual world.”

Then, when he was about 55 years old, the then-Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention sponsored a lay renewal weekend at FBC Richmond. During that weekend, Hamilton heard the testimony of a man “who had chosen intentionally to focus on the things of God.”

“I decided I would do the same thing,” Hamilton recalls. “It seems like a small step, but it was life-changing for me.”

FOCUSED ON OTHERS

Learning to pay attention to the things of God helped him prioritize and look beyond himself, Hamilton says.

“The real sin of the world is inordinate self-interest,” Hamilton explains. “Every sin can be traced to selfishness that starts at birth. I think this selfishness is wired into us from birth to allow us to survive.

As our parents respond to our cries, we begin to think we are the king,” Hamilton continues. “To overcome this innate selfishness I must be willing to give my thoughts and words to the Lord before they become audible and trigger action.”

Hamilton’s character and spiritual insight are highly respected among those who know him, says Somerville.

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TRUSTED ADVISER—Buddy Hamilton talks with another volunteer during a break in ministry at FBC Richmond. “Buddy not only cares about people; he has great spiritual depth,” said Steve Blanchard, FBC Richmond’s Associate Pastor for Compassion.

“Buddy offers the perspective of years of experience, but he is remarkably open-minded,” Somerville says. “When Buddy speaks, heads swivel to hear what he has to say. People trust him. There is universal recognition that he helped make us who we are.”

In addition to his work in the homeless ministry, Hamilton delivers “Meals on Wheels” monthly to Richmond’s Jackson Ward.

“Some people claim that’s a bad part of town, but I don’t think so,” Hamilton says with a smile. “I have some great friends there.”


Ann Lovell is Corporate Director of Communications for LifeSpire of Virginia, formerly Virginia Baptist Homes. For more information, email alovell@lifespireliving.org or call (804) 521-9192.

LifeSpire of Virginia operates four continuing care retirement communities in Virginia: The Chesapeake in Newport News, The Culpeper in Culpeper, The Glebe in Daleville and Lakewood in Richmond.