Tag Archives: LifeSpire of Virginia

LifeSpire releases 2016 Annual Report; CFO has reasons to smile

06/12/17

By Ann Lovell

RICHMOND, Virginia—Joe Kelley is a stereotypical accountant. A quiet guy with a dry sense of humor, you’ll most often find Kelley sitting quietly at his desk in his corner office surrounded by mounds of paperwork.

As LifeSpire of Virginia’s Chief Financial Officer, Kelley spends his work days analyzing the financial situation of LifeSpire’s four continuing care retirement communities. For financial reporting purposes, Kelley explains, LifeSpire’s Lakewood in Richmond, The Chesapeake in Newport News and The Culpeper in Culpeper make up what’s known as “the obligated group.” The Glebe in Daleville is a separate financial entity.

Although he’s always up for a good laugh, co-workers say Kelley rarely gets excited. When he’s happy, those closest to him notice a slight smile and a twinkle in his eye. Based on the consolidated financial statements released in LifeSpire’s 2016 Annual Report, Kelley’s smile is broader than usual — for very good reasons.

“For the first time in nearly 20 years, LifeSpire posted a net operating gain in 2016,” Kelley reports.

UNDERSTANDING THE NUMBERS

Joe Kelley is LifeSpire of Virginia’s Chief Financial Officer.

Kelley gets particularly excited about debt service coverage ratios. The debt service coverage ratio compares debt payments to adjusted net operating income, Kelley explains. Anything over 1 means a company has enough cash to cover its debts. Generally, banks require a debt service coverage ratio of at least 1.2. The higher the ratio, the stronger the organization is financially.

“Our debt service ratio for the obligated group is 2.09 and for The Glebe it’s 2.11. That’s amazing considering where we were just a few years ago,” Kelley says.

Jonathan Cook, LifeSpire’s president and CEO, also appreciates the significance of these numbers.

“A few years ago, it was very common for the financial benchmarks in each of our communities to hover around debt compliance levels,” Cook says. “Thanks to the hard work of staff in each of our communities, we now have the opportunity to build some reserves to sustain us in the event of future economic downturns.”

Kelley has a number of charts that accompany his presentations on LifeSpire’s financial position. One of them highlights the downward slide of operating income that began with a $1 million loss in 2000 and bottomed out with a $9 million loss in 2007 at the start of the global financial crisis.

“If I had looked at the financials when I came to work here, I might not have come,” Kelley jokes. “The auditors thought we were going out of business; we received ‘going concern’ audit opinions from 2008 through 2011.”

A number of factors contributed to the financial difficulties of VBH:  the development and startup losses at The Glebe, the recession and capital market collapse in 2008 and 2009 and The Glebe’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2010, Kelley says. These factors impacted all VBH communities.

“Because of the organizational distraction and the costs associated with the bankruptcy, VBH was unable to adequately reinvest in our communities the way we wanted to,” Kelley says.

But the problems actually began two decades before the economic downturn of the 2000s, says Cook, who recently discovered a 1980s-era letter from then-VBH board chair, Hunter Riggins. Titled “Facing the 80s: Problems and Solutions,” the letter begins, “Virginia Baptist Homes, Inc., faces the greatest challenge it has ever faced in the decade of the 80s. This challenge is at or nearing crisis proportions. The challenge facing the Homes is how to put the overall operation on a firm financial foundation and at the same time maintain current operations and continue the substantial work done in the past and the present for elderly Virginia Baptists.”

“In reality, the organization had been struggling for years before 1999 because we focused more on the spiritual and mission components of our business and less on fiscal stewardship,” Cook says.

LifeSpire board chair Susan Rucker defines it as a “downward spiral.”

As a result of the flagging economy, “losses had begun and were accelerating,” says Rucker, who joined the LifeSpire board in 2014. “One or two years of losses are not a disaster, but you don’t want to get in a position where you can’t recover.”

Fortunately, both the board and senior leadership realized the organization’s dire predicament and took steps to reverse the trends. “Sustainability became the board’s goal,” Rucker says.

REVERSING THE TRENDS

The reversal began in early 2008 when, in response to The Glebe’s escalating difficulties, an external management firm came in to oversee operations.

“The management company provided the chief operating officer, the chief financial officer and other operational expertise,” Kelley says. “They brought a level of proficiency VBH didn’t have in-house at the time.”

Specifically, this management expertise helped VBH communities receive Medicare certification, adding “$4 to $5 million in annual reimbursements for services we were already providing,” Kelley says.  “This coupled with economic recovery was the turning point.”

VBH utilized the company’s services for about three years and then moved to hire the talent they needed, Kelley says. In 2014 the board hired Cook, and the steepest recovery began then.

“We understood the next CEO had to have financial acumen,” Rucker says. “Part of the job was getting the communities on track to be profitable and sustainable.”

But, financial stability is more than just “good business,” Rucker stresses.

“Being financially stable positions us to live up to our commitment to our seniors. When we are financially stable, we are able to try new things and invest in new ventures and new technology. We want to help seniors age where they want to age and continue to look at ways to serve seniors outside the walls of our CCRCs,” Rucker says.

A PROMISING FUTURE

Rucker says LifeSpire’s current situation is “night and day” different, and the future is very promising, thanks in large part to the commitment of staff at each community. Sustainability can’t be achieved “by senior management alone.”

Cook agrees, “Our goal is to provide lifestyle-based services with hospitality, dining and wellness as the focal points,” noting this vision relies on the full buy-in of staff at every level.

“We want to build on being a place where people want to come,” Rucker says. “Over the next five years, we envision significantly refreshing our physical plant, offering new programs and finding other ways to serve the market that are relevant to seniors.”

Kelley and Cook share Rucker’s vision and enthusiasm for the future.

“LifeSpire has been transformed,” Kelley says. “We are actively engaged in becoming one of the premier mid-sized senior living companies in the mid-Atlantic region, financially and operationally. The groundwork we have been laying recently will enable LifeSpire to meet its commitments to current and future residents for many years to come.”

Cook agrees, adding, “If these trends hold, and I have every reason to believe they will, we may even hear Joe start to whistle.”

 

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 breaks ground

05/23/17

By Ann Lovell

Residents and guests recite “The Pledge of Allegiance” at The Culpeper’s groundbreaking May 10.

More than 225 residents, staff and guests of The Culpeper, a LifeSpire of Virginia continuing care retirement community, gathered May 10 to break ground on their new home — an estimated $23 million, 125,000 square-foot facility that will include space for independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing and memory care. The new Culpeper will also offer residents larger living space, modern dining facilities, and a state-of-the-art fitness center.

Randall Robinson (right), former president and CEO, and Mick Feauto, Executive Vice President and COO of LifeSpire, talk with LifeSpire of Virginia staff .

Utilizing the theme, “Building for Tomorrow,” the afternoon was a celebration of The Culpeper’s past, present and future. Randall Robinson, former president and CEO of Virginia Baptist Homes, the predecessor to LifeSpire of Virginia, recalled The Culpeper’s history and the courage and vision it took for Dr. J.T. Edwards, then pastor of Culpeper Baptist Church, to build the very first Virginia Baptist Home just following World War II.

“(Edwards) took it upon himself to travel down to Richmond to meet with the executive committee of the Baptist Board,” Robinson said. “You have to remember this was during World War II, during a time when people knew nothing but cutbacks. This was a time not to spend but to save.”

However, Robinson noted, when The Culpeper was dedicated in October 1950, the new building was paid for as the result of an intensive state-wide capital campaign by Edwards and his team. “That’s an essential part of our past,” Robinson said.

Susan Rucker, chair of LifeSpire’s board of trustees, talks with a guest during The Culpeper’s groundbreaking celebration.

While Robinson shared about the past, residents Mary Miller and Kathy Davis shared their enthusiasm for living at The Culpeper today, describing it a “wonderful experience.”

“I’ve felt safe and secure, Miller said. “And the residents have been like a second family.”

Davis agreed. “We were tired of raking leaves. Facing reality, we knew we’d face life changes, and we would need to move into a retired assisted living community,” Davis said. “We have found exactly what we were looking for.”

Residents and guests enjoy breaking ground on the new building.

Looking toward the future, Jonathan Cook, current president and CEO of Lifespire of Virginia, began by reading a 1980s-era letter from former board chair, Hunter Riggins. The letter detailed the need for a new building at The Culpeper and the lack of resources available at that time to provide one.

“This letter was written in 1980, meaning we’ve been talking about a new building for quite a long time within Virginia Baptist Homes,” Cook said. “Today we are excited to say that we are making that a reality. While we honor our past, it is now time to look toward the future.”

The original Culpeper building stands behind the site of the new community, which will face the Blue Ridge mountains.

“This building has been our ancestral home for almost 70 years,” Cook continued. “This building has provided care for tens of thousands of Virginia Baptists; this building has provided a living for thousands of staff in the area, and this building has been closely tied to the identity of Virginia Baptist Homes.”

“Today we are starting a new beginning for the Culpeper,” Cook concluded. “I just want to thank you all for being a part of it and challenge us all to make sure we carry that long and rich history and tradition of care into our new building.”

Ann Lovell is Corporate Director of Communications for LifeSpire of Virginia. 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.

Rucker elected to chair LifeSpire’s board of trustees

03/17/17

By Ann Lovell

Susan Rucker

Richmond, Virginia—LifeSpire of Virginia is pleased to announce the election of Susan Rucker as chair of its board of trustees. Rucker, who was elected to a 3-year term,  assumed her duties January 1 and presided over the board’s first meeting of 2017 in early March at Lakewood, a LifeSpire community in Richmond’s west end.

Rucker is currently the chief financial officer at the Mason School of Business at The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. She is also president of Prospective Insights, a consulting service that helps businesses define and execute business strategy and leadership development.

“I have worked with Mrs. Rucker as a LifeSpire board member for the past two years. Her business and financial leadership have helped propel us to the strong financial position we have today, ” said Jonathan Cook, LifeSpire president and CEO. “I look forward to working with her in this expanded leadership role.”

Formerly a partner with KPMG, a global professional firm that provides audit, tax and advisory services, Rucker holds a bachelor’s in business administration from William & Mary. She and her husband, Michael, live in Midlothian, Virginia.

 

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 of Virginia elects new trustee

03/07/17

By Ann Lovell

Matthew Scott

Richmond, Virginia—LifeSpire of Virginia is pleased to announce the election of J. Matthew Scott as the newest member of LifeSpire’s Board of Trustees. Scott was elected at the trustee’s quarterly meeting, March 7, at Lakewood, a LifeSpire continuing care retirement community in Richmond’s west end.

Scott is currently the executive director for business development and strategy for MCV Physicians (MCVP) in Richmond. MCVP is a tax-exempt faculty practice plan organized to support the teaching and medical education missions of Virginia Commonwealth University’s (VCU) School of Medicine. As executive director of business development and strategy, Scott coordinates strategies, business development and outreach plans, physician recruitment, and marketing functions.

“We are pleased to welcome Mr. Scott to the board of LifeSpire,” said Jonathan Cook, president and CEO. “His background in business development and health strategies is a welcome asset as we seek to expand LifeSpire’s mission and focus on wellness, hospitality and dining.”

Scott holds a master’s in health administration from VCU and a bachelor’s in economics from Brigham Young University. He and his wife, Allyson, reside in the Richmond area. They have four children.

 

Ann Lovell is Corporate Director of Communications for LifeSpire of Virginia. 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.

20160426-AML-0342
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.

International Women’s Day: Remembering Catherine Walker

Catherine Walker IMB Photo

March 8, 2016

By Ann Lovell

RICHMOND, Va.— Anyone who knew her will tell you Catherine Walker was a legend. A longtime Lakewood resident, Walker died Jan. 7 at age 100. She was honored in a memorial service at Lakewood Feb. 13.

“Small in stature but big in influence and heart,” Walker influenced generations as a mentor and teacher, “but her accolades pale in comparison to her humble faith — the way she went about loving God and loving people,” said her pastor, Jeff Raymond of Derbyshire Baptist Church in Richmond.

Walker, a Georgia native, first went to China as a Southern Baptist missionary in 1946, before communist rule forced Western missionaries out, reported Erich Bridges in a Jan. 11 Baptist Press article.

“She stayed as long as she could — and longer than many dared — before moving on to Indonesia,” Bridges wrote. “She became one of the first faculty members of the infant Indonesian Baptist Theological Seminary in Semarang, which she helped start in 1954.”

In late 1980, Walker retired from IMB, and three months later, she joined the mission board’s home office staff to focus on mobilizing Southern Baptists to pray more strategically for missions, Bridges reported. Until her second retirement in 1985, she led the new office of IMB prayer strategy as special assistant to the president for intercessory prayer.

Retirement didn’t slow Walker down, however, and her impact during her years at Lakewood was remarkable, Raymond said.

“Hers was a ministry of presence,” Raymond said. “Even though she didn’t always lead — it was intimidating to teach someone of her (spiritual) stature — she was always humble, always an encourager.”

Carolyn Briggs, a Lakewood resident who is also Walker’s cousin, remembered Walker as playful and marked by trust and gratitude. Although Walker could barely see or hear in her last couple of years, “she could love you without the details,” Briggs said. “She would turn smiling into her encounters with people.”

As Walker aged, her frailty distressed her, Briggs said, but she “discovered abundance, even in her frailty.”

“She knew she was loved by the Lord, and she remained concerned that people hear the gospel,” Briggs said.

Trust and concern for others, Bridges reported, were lessons Walker learned early.

“When a much younger Walker arrived in China after World War II, the missionary era there was drawing to a close as the communist era was just beginning,” Bridges wrote. “The day came when the American government warned all Americans in the Shanghai area that the last evacuation ship would leave soon. Walker packed her bag and headed for the port, but something stopped her.”

“It occurred to me that I had never really prayed about whether it was God’s will for me to go,” Walker later reflected. “So I stopped and prayed, asking Him if I was supposed to get on that ship. To my surprise, I felt a very strong impression that I was not supposed to go. So I turned around and went back to the campus.”

Marge Worten, who served with Walker in Indonesia, later recalled that the following year was “one of the most blessed in (Walker’s) life. During that time the [Chinese] seminary experienced a deep revival among the staff and students. … Catherine later saw it as a preparation for what was to come in China. The presence of God was palpable; the unity of heart, spirit and love was incredible. … When a ‘post-final’ opportunity to leave China came, the Lord clearly told Catherine to go. She followed His voice. But she left with the blessings of that year as a part of who she was.”

Walker’s trust in and obedience to God were hallmarks of her life, which was also characterized by a deep commitment to prayer.

“I never would hold up my prayer life as a model,” she said at one time. “But I’m not concerned about my capabilities. I’ve found God uses a person as he is.”

For these reasons and many others, on this International Women’s Day we remember Catherine Walker, missionary, teacher, prayer warrior and friend.

Ann Lovell is Corporate Director of Communications for LifeSpire of Virginia.