Category Archives: The Glebe

LifeSpire of Virginia appoints new leadership at The Glebe

By Ann Lovell

Ellen D’Ardenne is the new executive director of The Glebe.

RICHMOND, Virginia—LifeSpire of Virginia is pleased to announce the selection of Ellen D’Ardenne as executive director of The Glebe, a LifeSpire continuing care retirement community in Daleville.

Most recently, D’Ardenne served as administrator of health services at The Glebe. She joined The Glebe in 2005 as the director of dining services. After 25 years of food service management in the hotel, restaurant, and senior living industries, D’Ardenne was looking for a new challenge. In May 2006, she began a health care administration degree program, which led her to become a licensed nursing home administrator in June 2010. With experience in assisted living administration and skilled nursing management, she further expanded her role in April 2011 by assuming leadership of The Glebe’s health and wellness programs.

“We are pleased to promote Ms. D’Ardenne to lead The Glebe,” said Jonathan Cook, LifeSpire president and CEO. “She has been a part of The Glebe from its beginnings and has played a major role in The Glebe’s success. We have every confidence she will lead The Glebe with excellence and a focus on resident-centered care.”

D’Ardenne and her husband, Dwayne, have three children. She enjoys cooking, kayaking, cycling, and running.

Brandon Evans is the new administrator of health services at The Glebe.

In a related move, The Glebe’s director of nursing, Brandon Evans, has been promoted to administrator of health services, the position vacated by D’Ardenne’s promotion. Evans joined The Glebe in 2011. He is a registered nurse who began his health services career as a nursing assistant, progressed to a licensed practical nurse and then obtained his registered nurse license. Evans’ nursing background includes supervisory responsibilities over a large skilled nursing program with more than 180-skilled beds, infection control, quality improvement and staff development.

Brandon received his associate’s degree in science, registered nursing, cum laude from Virginia Western Community College, and he is a member of Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society. He received a bachelor of science in nursing from the Jefferson College of Health Science. He and his wife, Amy, have two children. He enjoys hunting and fishing.


Ann Lovell is Corporate Director of Communications for LifeSpire of Virginia, formerly Virginia Baptist Homes. For more information, email 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 seniors to ‘bike for benevolence’ Sept. 28

Bob Hill, 80, a resident of The Culpeper, regularly runs and bikes to keep in shape. Hill will participate in “Biking for Benevolence” Sept. 28, a wellness event hosted by LifeSpire’s Virginia Baptist Homes Foundation.

By Ann Lovell

RICHMOND, Virginia—Never underestimate the strength of a senior. Five LifeSpire of Virginia residents — ranging in age from 70 to 80 — will bike the Virginia Capital trail Sept. 28. The event for LifeSpire residents, staff, trustees and families will highlight Active Aging Week and raise awareness of the mission of Virginia Baptist Homes Foundation, said Patricia Morris, a LifeSpire vice president and head of the VBH Foundation.  The ride offers starting points at mile posts 42, 27 or 20, and the group of 17 riders will finish in Jamestown at mile post 0.

The International Council on Aging designated the last full week in September as Active Aging Week beginning in 2003.  Held this year from Sept. 24-30, Active Aging Week celebrates aging and showcases the capability of older adults. Through the bike event, LifeSpire of Virginia is linking senior wellness with the opportunity to support those who outlive their financial resources, Morris said.

“Last year, VBH Foundation gave more than $1.1 million to 59 life care residents across all four LifeSpire communities. Thanks to the support of our donors, no life care resident has ever been asked to leave a community because they ran out of money,” Morris said. “The support of our foundation provides LifeSpire’s residents the peace of mind that allows them to flourish.”

Riders may start from mile post 42 or 27 at 11 a.m. or at mile post 20 at 12:30 p.m. Riders are expected to finish around 3 p.m. at mile post 0 in Jamestown. The Cap Trail shuttle is providing free shuttle service to event participants.

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


Ann Lovell is Corporate Director of Communications for LifeSpire of Virginia. Contact her at or (804) 521-9192.

NOW HIRING: Executive Director of The Glebe


RICHMOND, Virginia—LifeSpire of Virginia is seeking to hire an executive director for The Glebe, a not-for-profit life plan community in Daleville, Virginia. The Glebe is one of four communities owned and operated by LifeSpire of Virginia, based in Richmond, Virginia.

The Glebe currently consists of 154 independent living apartments/cottages, 32 assisted living beds, and 32 skilled nursing beds.  Master Planning is underway to consider growth opportunities for additional independent living apartments and/or a memory care neighborhood.

The community has an outstanding reputation in the Roanoke market and currently provides service to 256 residents and currently employs 192 staff members. The health center provides excellent care and has a 5-star rating with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Reporting to the Chief Operating Officer, the Executive Director is responsible for continuing and enhancing the reputation of the community by providing strategic leadership consistent with the LifeSpire mission, vision, and values. The Executive Director shall provide leadership in the development of policies, procedures and plans which result in the accomplishment of both the organization’s long- and short-range goals. The Executive Director is responsible for ensuring the development and delivery of appropriate services to residents, clients, and their families.

Key qualifications, duties, and personal characteristics for this position are:


  • Minimum 5 years’ experience as an Executive Director of a life plan community
  • Bachelor’s degree in a relevant field
  • NHA license is a plus, but not required
  • Thorough understanding of the senior housing industry
  • Financial management skills; ability to develop and manage the budget for the entire community; identify areas for expense savings or revenue generating opportunities
  • Ability to maintain and strengthen positive working relationships with staff, residents, and leadership across communities
  • With support of the leadership team, develop and implement a strategic plan that aligns with the LifeSpire mission, vision, and values
  • Provide quality programming and services that meet the needs of today’s and tomorrow’s consumer
  • Develop and sustain a community culture of teamwork, professionalism, mutual respect, continuous quality improvement, and accountability
  • Develop a strong team of competent and committed professionals who are committed to service excellence
  • Articulate a vision, create consensus, and motivate people to build a sense of community


  • Support the strategic plan and direction of LifeSpire of Virginia.
  • Direct the overall operations of the facility while complying with state and federal regulations as well as the company’s policies and procedures
  • Ensure compliance and licensure with all licensing agencies
  • Manage occupancy development.
  • Plan, develop, and manage facility’s operating and capital budgets
  • Develop and monitor all contracted provider services.
  • Foster effective communications and teamwork among the facility’s management group
  • Maintain current knowledge about changes in federal, state, and local regulations
  • Focus on achieving and maintaining 5-star status in the community


The ideal candidate will be a competent, compassionate, and committed professional who is willing to enter into a long-term commitment of service to the organization and do so within a team-oriented, collaborative, servant-leadership environment.  He/she will be a person of high integrity and ethical standards and have a personal reputation that will reflect well on the organization.  Of equal importance will be a high standard of care and concern for current and future residents.  He/she will evidence a commitment to establishing community collaborations. As a relationship-oriented person, the Executive Director will be an excellent communicator and will maintain a visible presence among staff, residents, clients, and within the surrounding community.

This job offers a competitive base salary with a bonus incentive structure, as well as an excellent benefits package. The full-time benefits package includes options for health, dental, and life insurance, retirement plan, generous paid time off, and relocation assistance.  EOE.

Qualified applicants may apply by e-mailing a resume to:



Helpful Tips for Downsizing in Retirement

One of the main reasons older adults put off downsizing or moving to a retirement community is the need to deal with all the “stuff” they’ve accumulated over the years. Yet, if done right, the process of downsizing may not be as daunting as you think. It may even be enjoyable — even refreshing. A lot of the physical work can be done by others, so your main role is to categorizeorganize, and direct. Here are six tips to get you started:

Start now

If you are thinking about moving, whether to a retirement community or to a smaller home, now is a good time to start the downsizing process. Don’t wait until you are ready to move. At that point, the process and emotions may be overwhelming, and you will have other things that require your attention. Even if you ultimately choose not to move, your family members will thank you! There will be less stuff for them to deal with one day.

Recognize you can’t keep it all

To know what items you can and should purge, you first need to know which items you absolutely cannot part with. But here’s the key: After you have created the initial list, pare it down even further. This can be a tough exercise, but the reality is that some of the things you think you need to save may not be necessary to keep after all. For example, that sport coat in the closet you’ve held onto for 15 years because you are sure you will wear it again? It’s probably time to part ways. That stack of magazines with holiday recipes dating back 10 years? Those can go, too. Your most cherished recipes will not be hidden in a tall stack of magazines anyway, right?

Prepare yourself: Your kids may not want your stuff

Another popular reason for hanging on to various items is that kids or grandkids will want them. But many people eventually discover that the things they thought would be coveted by their adult children were not so desirable after all. To help sort this out, consider inviting your children over for a day to go through your things and find out what they actually want.

Sort by large and small

Once you know what you want to keep, make a list of big and small items. The big items are anything that will not fit in a regular size moving box, such as a sofa or table. As you consider these items, be sure to think about the dimensions and style of your new home so you will know if they will fit. Many CCRCs have move-in coordinators who can help you with this.

Obviously, it could be tough to list out every single smaller item, but you want to think about your most utilized items first. Consider things like silverware, pictures, kitchenware, books, etc.

Sell, donate, or discard?

Once you’ve decided what items are no longer needed, it is time to decide what to do with them. Create a separate list with three columns: Sell, Donate, and Trash. As you consider what you want to sell, remember that items rarely bring in the amount of cash the owner thinks they will. In some cases it may simply be easier to donate or discard an item than to go to the trouble of trying to sell it.

However, if you feel sure it would be worth the time to try to sell some of your belongings, then you have a number of options. You could try to sell them online with sites like Ebay or Craig’s List. (Please take caution if you use Craigslist or a similar website. If possible, meet the buyer in a public place and take someone with you.) Sometimes a good old-fashioned yard sale could do the job, but you will want to get someone to help you with the set up and break down. Alternately, if you have more than a few valuable items, any number of local companies will be willing to administer an estate sale for you.

Hauling the junk

Finally, after you have gone through the above-mentioned steps, you may be surprised by the amount of left over junk. This would include things that have piled up in a garage or crawlspace over the years, such as old paint cans. Many national companies will come by and haul these things away for you. All you have to do is point to the items you want removed, and they will recycle or trash the items accordingly.

If you are considering moving to a LifeSpire community, our move-in coordinators are happy to help you think through what you might or might not need in your new home. Give our marketing departments a call and set up an appointment today!

The Chesapeake (Newport News): 757-223-1600
The Culpeper (Culpeper): 540-825-2411
The Glebe (Daleville): 540-591-2100
Lakewood (Richmond): 804-740-2900



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LifeSpire communities recognized for excellence


By Ann Lovell


RICHMOND, Virginia—LifeSpire leadership recognized each of its four continuing care retirement communities for operational and customer service excellence at an awards ceremony Sept. 27. LifeSpire owns and operates four retirement communities serving approximately 1,200 residents throughout Virginia: The Culpeper in Culpeper, The Glebe in Daleville, The Chesapeake in Newport News, and Lakewood in Richmond.

The awards included:

  • Perfect survey: Presented to the communities that achieved a perfect survey or no deficiencies on annual state health inspections for skilled nursing.
    • Perfect survey 2015: The Glebe
    • Perfect survey 2015: Lakewood
    • Perfect survey 2016: The Chesapeake
  • Spirit of Giving 2016 for highest percentage of employees participating in the employee crisis fund: The Culpeper
  • First Impression 2016 for best appearance of the community: The Culpeper
  • Overall resident satisfaction 2015 for highest resident satisfaction on the 2015 Independent Living resident satisfaction survey: The Glebe
  • Overall resident satisfaction participation 2015 for the highest percentage participation in the 2015 resident satisfaction process: The Glebe
  • Overall employee satisfaction participation 2016 for the highest percentage of employee participation in the 2016 employee satisfaction survey: The Glebe
  • Overall employee satisfaction 2016 for the highest cumulative score on the 2016 employee satisfaction survey: Lakewood
  • Safety First Award for the least amount of dollars spent per claim year: The Glebe
  • Fiscal Management 2015 for the community that performed best compared to budget in relation to campus financial results: Lakewood
  • Fiscal Management 2016 for the community that performed best compared to budget in relation to campus financial results: The Culpeper
  • Graves-Morris Award for largest net gain in independent living occupancy: The Culpeper
  • The Appalachian Trail Award for most independent living move-ins: Lakewood
  • Mount Everest Award for highest sustained occupancy: Lakewood
  • Peak Performance Award for highest closing ratio:
    • Rose Wallace of The Culpeper
    • Dreama Slone of the The Glebe
    • Liz Gee of The Chesapeake
  • The Innovator’s Award for marketing innovation: The Chesapeake

Each LifeSpire community provides a full continuum of care to address the changing health needs of seniors. Readily accessible assisted living, 24-hour nursing care, physical therapy and memory support services combined with a focus on exceptional dining, wellness and hospitality are hallmarks of each LifeSpire community. For more information, contact one of our marketing professionals at the community nearest you:

Rose Wallace, The Culpeper in Culpeper, 540-825-2411 or email
Helen Burnett, The Glebe in Daleville, 540-591-2100 or email
Liz Gee, The Chesapeake in Newport News, 757-223-1600 or email
Donna Buhrman, Lakewood in Richmond, 804-740-1900 or email

Ann Lovell is corporate director of communications for LifeSpire of Virginia, formerly Virginia Baptist Homes. For more information, email 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 residents participate in Active Aging Week … and stay fit year-round

By Ann Lovell

Since 2003, the International Council on Active Aging has promoted Active Aging Week during the last week of September. LifeSpire residents in each of its four communities participated in a variety of activities, Sept. 25 – Oct. 1, including walking tours, aquatic exercise, glow-in-the-dark games, Segway outings, drum circles, and mystery walks.

nustep-marathonNuStep Marathon: Forty-three residents participated in The Glebe’s NuStep marathon. Each signed up for a 30-minute time slot on a NuStep machine, keeping two NuSteps occupied continuously for about 11 hours! A few residents who had never tried the NuStep joined a team, prompting Rachel Carson, The Glebe’s wellness coordinator, to proclaim the NuStep marathon the “biggest success” of this year’s Active Aging Week.

lakewood-active-aging-allen-brownLakewood’s drum circle: This interactive event allowed Lakewood residents to enjoy making music while reaping the health benefits of ensemble drumming. While research suggests learning any new skill diminishes and even prevents senile dementia, the physical act of drumming has additional advantages, including improved circulation and loosening stiff joints in the shoulders, arms, and hands.

Research shows that an active lifestyle lessens the challenges and increases the opportunities associated with aging. In addition to celebrating Active Aging Week, LifeSpire seeks to provide an environment within its four communities that offers aging adults programs, guidance, and support for healthy aging — all year long.

the-culpeper-mr-bob-hill Bob Hill, a resident at The Culpeper, is one example of a LifeSpire resident committed to wellness. Hill stays fit by running three times a week, and his fitness goals give him the strength, energy and stamina to volunteer with a number of humanitarian organizations. In the past, Hill’s volunteerism led him to North Africa where he helped build dams, repair schools, and mentor the children of female prisoners who lived in the prison with their mothers. He has also served the needs of low-income people through World Changers in Norfolk by inspecting homes and offering needed repairs to make the homes safer, warmer and drier.

jesse-hughesJesse Hughes, a resident of The Chesapeake, is another example of LifeSpire wellness. Hughes participated in the Virginia Senior Games May 17 – 21 with more than 2,100 participants. Hughes won a gold medal in basketball and three silver medals in the 50-yard run, 25-meter backstroke, and the broad jump. Since moving to The Chesapeake, Hughes has made sure to keep his body in top shape by participating in the many wellness programs the community offers.

LifeSpire owns and operates four continuing care retirement communities serving approximately 1,200 residents throughout Virginia: The Culpeper in Culpeper, The Glebe in Daleville, The Chesapeake in Newport News, and Lakewood in Richmond.

Each LifeSpire community provides a full continuum of care to address the changing health needs of seniors. Readily accessible assisted living, 24-hour nursing care, physical therapy and memory support services combined with a focus on exceptional dining, wellness and hospitality are hallmarks of each LifeSpire community. For more information, contact one of our marketing professionals at the community nearest you:

Rose Wallace, The Culpeper in Culpeper, 540-825-2411
Helen Burnett, The Glebe in Daleville, 540-591-2100
Liz Gee, The Chesapeake in Newport News, 757-223-1600
Donna Buhrman, Lakewood in Richmond, 804-740-2900

Ann Lovell is corporate director of communications for LifeSpire of Virginia. For more information, contact her at or (804) 521-9192.

A financial success story: The Glebe rebounds from 2010 bankruptcy


By Ann Lovell

glebe_aerial_retouch_ADALEVILLE, Virginia—Chapter 11 bankruptcy is typically the death knell for an organization, particularly a faith-based nonprofit like The Glebe, a continuing care retirement community — or CCRC — outside Roanoke. That’s why The Glebe’s recovery from its Chapter 11 filing in 2010 and its strong financial health today are worth celebrating, says Joe Kelley, chief financial officer of LifeSpire of Virginia, formerly Virginia Baptist Homes (VBH), The Glebe’s parent company.

“The Glebe is the first CCRC we know of to go through bankruptcy and come out with the same ownership and the same management,” Kelley says. “It could have changed hands, changed managers or they could have closed it up and turned it into an apartment building.”

Instead, Kelley says, The Glebe came out of the bankruptcy not only financially healthy but also stronger relationally. “We retained all the residents. In fact, the adversity of the Chapter 11 process brought the residents together,” he says.

Ben Burks, executive director of The Glebe since 2013 agrees. Burks also credits the support of then-VBH and the commitment of The Glebe’s staff as key factors in The Glebe’s survival.

“The staff remained through the bankruptcy,” Burks said. “Many did a phenomenal job and worked well with the residents. The leadership of VBH also served the residents well.”

The Glebe’s cohesiveness among residents, staff and corporate leadership is borne from a high level of trust and the commitment to work together, says Joy McNabb, a resident of The Glebe since 2006. During the bankruptcy, the U.S. bankruptcy court appointed McNabb as chair of the unsecured creditors’ group, which was largely comprised of The Glebe’s residents.

“There was a strong trust factor among residents that VBH would take care of us, and they did,” McNabb says. Even in the worst of days, “we didn’t feel like we would lose our homes.”


The Glebe is one of four LifeSpire of Virginia continuing care retirement communities. LifeSpire, formerly known as Virginia Baptist Homes, is a faith-based nonprofit organization serving Virginia’s senior adults for more than 70 years. In 1945, Dr. J.T. Edwards, pastor of Culpeper Baptist Church, recognized the need to assist Virginia’s seniors in their retirement years. Edwards collaborated with the Baptist General Association of Virginia to build the first VBH retirement community in Culpeper, which opened in 1948. Over the years the organization expanded, opening The Chesapeake in Newport News in 1969, and Lakewood in Richmond in 1978.


Recognizing the potential need among seniors in the Roanoke Valley, VBH began making plans to build a similar retirement community in Daleville in the 1990s. The Glebe incorporated in October 1998. Unfortunately, Kelley explains, the project was fraught with problems nearly from the beginning.

“The Daleville you see when you go out there today isn’t the Daleville it was 10 years ago,” Kelley says. A then-remote location, a 100-year flood and construction delays contributed to a slower occupancy rate than financial projections originally assumed.

“Construction delays added a significant burden,” explains Peter Robinson, LifeSpire’s vice president of marketing and public relations. “The Glebe was supposed to open in 2003. The flood and the construction delays added 18 months to the opening. In this market, potential residents can’t wait 18 months. They have to move in somewhere, so we lost residents.”

The Glebe began admitting residents in 2005, and by 2008, the community was 70 percent full, Kelley says. Then in 2008, the U.S. capital and housing markets crashed. To complicate matters further, Botetourt County officials sued VBH for property taxes associated with The Glebe.

“They questioned if The Glebe was truly a nonprofit,” Robinson recalls. “They viewed us a country club that didn’t pay taxes.”

The case went to Virginia’s Supreme Court who in 2008 ruled 5-2 in favor of The Glebe, but the time and expense involved in adjudicating the case was extensive, Robinson says.

Later, in a 2009 interview with “The Roanoke Times,” Botetourt County district supervisor Terry Austin identified suing The Glebe as “the worst decision Botetourt county made” during his term.

“Our worst decision was to challenge The Glebe on their tax status,” Austin said. “The Glebe is truly a great asset to Botetourt County. I regret we created a bump in the road for both them and us along the way, and I wish them all of the success they deserve.”

At the time, however, this combination of factors proved disastrous.


Like other Life Care CCRCs, The Glebe relies on a one-time entrance fee along with a monthly service fee from residents to meet its financial obligations. Monthly service fees cover operating expenses. Entrance fees are largely allocated to fund future liabilities associated with resident support, and a major portion of these fees are held in escrow, McNabb explains. In exchange, residents receive housing, use and privileges within the community for life, including Assisted Living and health care services. Often, prospective residents pay the entrance fee from proceeds received from the sale of their homes.

When the housing market crashed, homes didn’t sell, residents could not pay their fees and The Glebe did not have the funds available to service its debt, Kelley explains. As a result, in January 2008, the U.S. Bank National Association declared an “event of default” — an action or circumstance that causes a lender to demand full repayment of an outstanding balance sooner than it was originally due.

On paper, The Glebe’s financial picture was bleak. At times, historical financial reports show, The Glebe had as little as seven days cash on hand.

“Fortunately, the occupancy rate was high enough that The Glebe could meet its operating expenses, including payroll,” Kelley explains, “and we were able to sustain that occupancy rate through the bankruptcy.”

The Glebe’s financial difficulties also had no bearing on the day-to-day lives of residents, McNabb says. “As a resident, we didn’t feel any impact from (the shortage of cash).”

However, because the bond trustee could require repayment, the entire outstanding liability — $55,540,000 — was classified as a current liability within The Glebe’s balance sheet. By May 2008, the situation grew even more dire when, based on The Glebe’s financial difficulties, the Virginia Bureau of Insurance ordered that The Glebe could not accept entrance fees until its finances met state standards.

“Essentially, this action assured bankruptcy,” Kelley says.

Although bankruptcy was unavoidable — The Glebe filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy June 28, 2010 — management, staff and residents did not give up hope. Instead, they rallied together to find a workable solution. Management undertook programs to improve operational efficiencies, reduce operating expenses and increase occupancy. Residents provided funds to fight the state commission’s stay on entrance fees and went to court to try to reverse the decision.


Salt Water Pool at the Aquatic Center DeardorffThe bankruptcy took two years to complete, but by the end of 2012, The Glebe was in a much healthier financial position, the state commission lifted the stay on collecting entrance fees, and residents who moved in during the bankruptcy paid their back entrance fees.

“By the end of 2012, the cash crisis was alleviated in part because everybody stayed,” Kelley explains. ”We had assumed that as many as 25 percent of residents might abrogate their contracts. We may have lost one person.

It was an extremely successful outcome,” Kelley continues. “Even the unsecured creditors, who usually get nothing, got 50 cents on the dollar. … In my mind that’s a win.”

McNabb agrees, “The integrity and honesty of VBH held this ship together.”


Today, The Glebe’s future is “as bright as it’s ever been,” McNabb says. “We are comfortable we’ll be taken care of, and the residents here have something very, very special.”

Kelley and Burks agree.

“Today, The Glebe has 305 days cash on hand. We’ve had a clean audit every year since 2012. We are in better shape than ever,” Kelley says.

“Our occupancy is at 94 percent and growing,” Burks says. “We’ve put in place a number of management practices designed to help us listen, watch and improve. We have established and aligned all our goals within departments and among individuals, so every employee is held accountable to goals that align. … We are hard-wiring excellence into our systems with great effect.”

“We know the quality of life of our residents hinges on the culture of our work,” Burks continues. “To us, that is very significant.”

Ann Lovell is corporate director of communications for LifeSpire of Virginia. Contact her at or (804) 521-9192. 

Faith matters


By Ann Lovell

Helen Wood 201606 (1 of 1)
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.”


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.”


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.”


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.”


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

Paula Levine inspires generations of dancers


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.”

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.”


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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.


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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 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 Glebe’s ‘Music in the Mountains’ raises $1,611 for Relay for Life

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Carole Edwards and Friends perform for a near-capacity audience at The Glebe on April 2. Donations to this year’s concert support Relay for Life in Botetourt County.

By Ann Lovell

DALEVILLE, Virginia—Carole Edwards and Friends, a well-known piano ensemble in Botetourt County, raised $1,611 for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for  Life through concerts April 2 and 3 at The Glebe, a LifeSpire of Virginia continuing care retirement community. Attendance at both concerts, held as part of The Glebe’s “Music in the Mountains” series, reached near-capacity as the musicians performed selections by Bizet, Liszt, Joplin, Sousa and others.

Courtney Baker, community manager of the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life in Roanoke, attended both performances. Baker noted that funds donated to Relay for Life support cancer research grants across the nation, including nine in Virginia. The Glebe is currently the largest supporter and top funding organization of Relay for Life in Botetourt County, Baker said.

The piano ensemble includes Edwards, Jackie Werb and Joy McNabb who live at The Glebe, as well as Deanne Vance and Erica Sipes of Roanoke. The group has performed concerts together for 43 years. 2016 marks their 11th year at The Glebe.

Ann Lovell is Corporate Director of Communications for LifeSpire of Virginia, formerly Virginia Baptist Homes. Contact her at or (804) 521-9192.