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‘How Do We Rely On Our Faith?’ Community Chaplains Help Residents Find Spiritually Grounding Amid A Pandemic

June 22, 2020

Spiritual WellnessWith senior living communities sheltering in place amid a pandemic, residents of Westminster Communities of Florida found a need for spiritual wellbeing more than ever. As a faith-based, not-for-profit organization, we emphasize wellness of spirit as well as body and mind – all part of our My W Life program for whole-person wellbeing.

For the chaplains who serve our more than 7,000 residents, that has meant getting creative in using technology to tend to their flocks.

Rev. Jeff Parkkila, chaplain at Westminster Winter Park, heard from many residents who couldn’t get to their pastors or their churches. “Many of our colleagues in churches had moved online. So we adapted technology to help us – preach, record and post,” Parkkila said.

Parkkila has been recording sermons three times a week, offering encouragement to residents. On Sunday mornings, he has also scheduled a block of worship services provided by Central Florida churches to re-broadcast on the community’s in-house TV system, with Catholic, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Baptist and Methodist churches’ services for residents to choose.

With the support of the Resident Lifestyle team, Rev. Steven Bell, chaplain at Westminster Palms in St. Petersburg, has been using YouTube and Facebook as well as the in-house TV system to distribute his message to residents. Bell records a weekly service and posts it on the community’s YouTube channel.

In Jacksonville, Rev. Leslie McCarrick from Westminster Woods on Julington Creek found that she had to make the abrupt shift away from in-person activity – especially to support Assisted Living and Health Center residents at the community. “Rather than do group activities, I offer these on a one to one basis in our Health Center as well as Assisted Living and Memory Care,” McCarrick said. She joins the residents in singing hymns, and if she doesn’t know the words, she finds the hymn on YouTube.

At other communities, the inspiration is to draw on the support of the Resident Lifestyle teams’ focus for each week. Rev. Jan Banker, chaplain at Westminster Shores in St. Petersburg, gives a daily prayer which she writes and videotapes somewhere outside on the beautiful waterfront campus. She often matches what the Resident Lifestyle team is doing. Banker also videotapes weekly worship in the chapel with a resident volunteer accompanist.

Westminster Communities of Florida is pleased to have a chaplain serving to our residents’ spiritual wellbeing at every community. It’s all part of our MyWLife program for wellbeing of body, mind and soul. To learn more, contact us now or call us today to find out more at (800) 948-1881.


Good News This Week

June 19, 2020

Good News This Week
This week started off with celebrating the adoption of the stars and stripes on the United States flag on Flag Day, we also thanked our outstanding team members with an Ice Cream surprise that was enjoyed by all! Our new CEO, Terry Rogers, gave a message to both our residents and team members introducing himself and sharing his goals for Westminster in the future. We finished off the week with the start of National Nursing Assistants week celebrating our Certified Nursing Assistants! Read more about Westminster Communities of Florida's good news this week below.


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Joel Kuriakose Joins Westminster Winter Park as Health Services Administrator

June 17, 2020

Joel Kuriakose Joing Westminster Winter Park

Westminster Winter Park announced that Joel Kuriakose is joining the Westminster Winter Park team as its Health Services Administrator. In this capacity, Kuriakose will direct the healthcare services at the active senior living community’s Health Center and Assisted Living.

Previously, Kuriakose was Assistant Administrator at Westminster Towers in Orlando. His career at Westminster Communities of Florida began as an Administrator-in-Training in 2017.

Westminster Winter Park, an active senior living community in the heart of Central Florida, is a Continuing Care Retirement Community with more than 750 residents at its Winter Park and Baldwin Park neighborhoods.

As Health Services Administrator, Kuriakose will report to Executive Director Tom Rockenbach. “I congratulate Joel as he joins our team,” said Rockenbach. “Joel, thank you for being part of the Westminster Team and for living our Mission of service.”

A graduate of the University of South Florida and the University of Florida, Kuriakose is a licensed Nursing Home Administrator. His first day as Health Services Administrator was on June 11.


Join Us In A Shared Prayer Today at 2 p.m.

June 16, 2020

Join Us For a Shared Day of Prayer

We are continuing to pray for the health of all of Westminster, and the world. As we move forward in this journey together, we are reminded that in the face of uncertainty, we must join together in our efforts and put our faith in God. We must look to the power of faith, hope, and love through all of this. Join us today, June 16, at 2 p.m., in this week's shared prayer, which was written by the Rev. Jeff Parkkila, M.Div., BCC Chaplain at Westminster Winter Park.

Download the prayer now


Westminster Communities of Florida Promotes Jim Polaski to Senior Vice President of Operations

June 12, 2020

Jim Polaski

Westminster Communities of Florida announced today that it has promoted Jim Polaski to the newly created position of Senior Vice President of Operations. In this capacity, Polaski will direct overall operations of the organization and its communities, as well as support community leadership.

Polaski is currently the Regional Vice President of Operations, overseeing six Continuing Care Retirement Communities in Bradenton, St. Petersburg and Tallahassee.

Westminster Communities of Florida, the nation’s 12th-largest not-for-profit senior living organization, serves more than 7,000 residents in 22 communities throughout Florida.

Since joining Westminster in 2014, Polaski has contributed greatly to the operations of the communities in the West Coast region. He was also named the Westminster Services Employee of the Year in 2017 in recognition of his exceptional dedication, especially during and following Hurricane Irma.

As Senior Vice President of Operations, Polaski will report to Chief Operating Officer Garry Hennis. “I’m delighted that our organization is recognizing Jim’s leadership today,” said Hennis. “As Regional Vice President of Operations for the West Coast for nearly six years, Jim’s leadership has contributed to our operational success and to Westminster’s reputation as a leader in service to older adults.”

Previously, Polaski served in a variety of leadership roles in several not-for-profit organizations in Pennsylvania, including as Executive Vice President, Executive Director, Vice President of Affordable Housing and Community Services, and Vice President of Project Development and Affordable Housing for Pennsylvania. He holds a bachelor's degree from DeSales University and is a licensed Nursing Home Administrator.

Polaski’s first day as Senior Vice President of Operations will be on June 15, 2020.


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