Hamilton hosts dietetic interns for food service rotation

Two students enrolled in dietetics programs are completing necessary internship rotations with Virginia Health Services. Their goal is to graduate this spring and be Registered Dietitians.

Ella Bowen, a student with Virginia Tech, and Sarah Cuffee, a student with Virginia State University, are doing their food service management rotations at The Hamilton Assistant Living with dining services manager Nicole Freeman. They had to complete a special project, with a catering focus, during the rotation.

Both cook and do other work in the kitchen during their rotation, serving Hamilton and York Nursing and Rehabilitation Center Residents. They work with Nicole on their competencies, which they’ll need to complete as part of their program.

The program

Ella cooks eggs during a Friday special breakfast at The Hamilton.
Ella cooks eggs during a Friday special breakfast at The Hamilton.

Nicole had several ideas for dining programs at The Hamilton that Ella and Sarah could plan and execute.

“Nicole is the mastermind,” Sarah said.

They catered lunch for a meeting of the VHS leadership team and Board members. They hosted a reception – a “Captain’s Feast” – at the Residents’ request for Assistant Administrator Joel Batista, who recently joined The Hamilton team.

And on Friday, they had a Fried Egg Competition and cooked eggs to order during a special breakfast for the Residents. Activity Director Kirstie Saunders said the event even drew out Residents who don’t usually come to the dining room for the meal.

Ella and Sarah collaborated with Nicole on menus, ideas and presentation.

“This has been a good experience here,” Ella said. “Nicole has been very supportive and helpful.”

Ella

Ella serves a Resident at The Hamilton breakfast.
Ella serves a Resident at The Hamilton breakfast.

In addition to frying up eggs and serving them Friday, Ella made a berry breakfast cobbler from scratch for the special breakfast. She is a diet tech with Virginia Health Services, joining the team in September.

Her next rotation will be her elective, clinical care, which she will complete with VHS Director of Dining and Nutrition Viki Reynolds. Ella will learn to do care plans, interview patients, perform weight checks and do assessments.

She is interested in continuing in long-term care once she graduates and passes the certification to be a Registered Dietitian.

“Several members of my family have had diabetes,” she said. “I eventually want to be a diabetes educator and work with those with cardiovascular disease and obesity.”

Hamilton Activity Director Kirstie Saunders introduces Sarah and Ella during the Captain's Feast on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2022.
Hamilton Activity Director Kirstie Saunders introduces Sarah and Ella during the Captain’s Feast on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2022.

Sarah

The Norfolk native felt drawn to being a Registered Dietitian because of her family’s history with diabetes and other illnesses.

“I don’t feel like the public knows the how your health is affected by your diet. I want to work in education, likely diabetes education in an outpatient setting,” she said.

Join our Team

We have openings on our dietary team for aides, cooks, a dietary manager and a registered dietitian. To apply, visit vahs.com/careers. VHS helps its team members live their best life, offering competitive wages and benefits in a supportive community that focuses on continuing education of its workforce.

Arbors resident an original Port Warwick homeowner

Faye Satterthwaite knows Port Warwick, maybe better than any Resident at The Arbors Independent Living. She and her husband were some of the first to own a home in the residential Newport News neighborhood when it broke ground in the early 2000s.

The Arbors was still under construction when the Satterthwaites moved into their home, which they designed to Faye’s specifications with a library, beautiful kitchen and large sunroom.

“We were able to design the house we wanted, within certain constraints,” she says.

It was going to be their home until they could no longer keep it up.

“We had always talked about The Arbors one day; we lived behind it,” she says.

She sold the Edith Wharton Square home after her husband passed away in February 2019. After living with a son and her family in northern Virginia during the pandemic, she moved back to where she considers home: The Peninsula. She has been at The Arbors for about a year.

“The house wasn’t the same after my husband died. It no longer felt like a home. It’s very appropriate I’m here now. I know he’d be happy I’m here,” she says.

Life in Port Warwick

She feels at home again living at The Arbors with her sister.

“I love it here. It’s a little different. I feel at home here. I know the neighborhood, I know it’s safe. I know the roads,” she says.

Some of her old friends are still in the area and her church is five minutes away from The Arbors. Her doctors are nearby.

“Kathy and I are very happy here,” she says. “My husband would be happy I am here.”

While not every social activity is her cup of tea, she enjoys the dining and events offered at The Arbors. The staff is very accommodating, she says.

Port Warwick itself is different from the neighborhood she and her husband called home 20 years ago.

They were tight-knit community in the early days of Port Warwick. Families would get together for dinner, take walks on the square and support the local businesses that were springing up. In those early days, there was a bookshop, pharmacy and wine shop. They picnicked on the square, bonded as a ladies’ group and enjoyed the pottery at Starving Artist.

Faye and Kathy eating lunch at The Arbors.
Faye and her sister Kathy enjoy lunch at The Arbors dining room.

Faye says she really enjoyed that European/English village vibe Port Warwick set out to achieve in developer Bobby Freeman’s vision. She and her husband moved into their townhome before construction of The Arbors was complete.

“We made friends with the people moving in,” she says. “It was a fun place to live. This was home to me.”

She has a daughter in Norge, but in moving back to the area chose to live again in Newport News.

Her sister was also living alone at the time, and Faye asked if she would like to share an apartment at The Arbors. The answer was yes. (They debated moving to Northern Virginia, but chose the Peninsula instead.)

“My sister called and said, ‘I found the perfect place. The Arbors.’ That was it for me,” she says. “My kids all said I should spend my money how I want to.”

Family life

Faye has lived on the Peninsula (off and on) since she was 8 years old. She grew up in Hampton and attended Hampton High School.

She was divorced with two young sons in Hampton when she met who would eventually be her second husband.

“I wasn’t planning to marry again,” she says with a shrug and a smile.

Bob worked at NASA Langley in Hampton. They went to lunch on their first date at the end of July that year. They were engaged by November and married Feb. 4. He also had two children from a previous marriage, and they took in both full time after his former wife passed away.

Faye and Bob also had a son together. They were living in a two-bedroom townhome when their family suddenly went from four to six, with another on the way. They scrambled to find a larger home.

“He took care of me and my boys,” she says. “He raised them just as they were his.”

Bob was an aeronautical engineer for 40-plus years with various divisions of NASA. He worked with wind tunnels and aviation work, and supported the space program. He was at Langley as they were building out the space program with the Mercury 7 astronauts. He also worked at NASA headquarters in DC for a time, and worked on the initial plans in Houston for the International Space Station.

They eventually lived in Williamsburg for many years before moving to the Kiln Creek neighborhood when they were empty nesters. They were there briefly before putting down a deposit to build their Port Warwick home.

Their career paths brought them both to work at NASA Langley before retiring. They were able to retire around the same time and travel.

“He was such a good man and a wonderful father. We had a wonderful life with these children,” she said.

He passed away near their 47th wedding anniversary.

“We had a wonderful life here; it’s appropriate I’m at The Arbors,” she says.

Faye sits and writes at a table, with another resident beside her.
Faye, front, works on a prompt during a memoir-writing class at The Arbors. She and other Residents are working with an instructor to create a memoir of their lives for publication.

After Bob passed away, Faye moved into her youngest’s son’s home with his family in northern Virginia. It was right before the pandemic – she sold her home in Port Warwick in 2 weeks. Her son had a 5-year-old and a newborn when she moved in.

“It was a wonderful experience to have my 5-year-old grandson want to spend every day with me,” she says.

Faye moved with her son’s family to another area of northern Virginia during the pandemic and found it difficult to make friends.

As pandemic-related restrictions loosened, her grandson was back in school and the baby was in daycare.

“I was home by myself all day, and it got lonely,” she says. “I need friendship; I need to see people.”

It was then she called her sister about changing her living situation – and what brought her home to The Arbors.

Career

She has had career stints (as a civilian) with nearly every branch of the military.

Faye was in the Army recruiting command when she met her husband. She also spent 10 years at the Newport News shipyard with the Navy in administrative roles, TRADOC at Fort Monroe and the Army civilian personnel office in northern Virginia.

She also was working for Eagle Engineering, which supported NASA’s work in Houston, during one of the most tragic moments in NASA’s history.

“I had to tell my coworkers the Challenger exploded,” she says. “Seeing those guys, the tears in their eyes … They worked on that shuttle.”

She was a secretary at Langley Air Force Base when the family moved back to Williamsburg. She was a secretary in the superintendent’s office for Williamsburg-James City County Schools, and also worked in real estate for a stint.

In 1989, Faye joined NASA Langley as a temporary secretary of a branch head, then was made permanent.

“My boss there was really good and he really helped me get ahead,” she says. “I had a great career and even though I’ve been all around, I’ve worked at all of these neat places.”

She was a secretary of the office of the director at NASA Langley and an administrative officer for personnel. She then handled the training branch budgets and was program analyst. She took a buyout at NASA before turning 60.

“I never regretted any of it – the job at NASA was the best,” she says.

She’s 78 now. In retirement she also opened a photography studio, served on the Board of Directors for the Yorktown Arts Festival and the Newport News Friends of the Library and managed a gallery.

Be our neighbor

The Arbors has a move-in special running through the holiday season. Join us for a tour and experience our community! Visit vahs.com/thearbors for details and to schedule a tour.

Assisted Living dining managers ready to pull out all the stops for the holidays

Residents and their families have the opportunity to share the holidays together thanks to the dining services teams at The Huntington and The Hamilton Assisted Living communities.

Hamilton’s Dining Services Manager Nicole Freeman and Huntington’s Dining Services Manager Annette Stringfield have listened to the Residents’ requests and are prepared to host traditional Thanksgiving dinners.

“We’re going to create a feast for them,” Nicole says. Family members were asked to RSVP if they were attending Thanksgiving lunch with their loved ones.

The Hamilton’s menu includes sliced turkey with gravy, collard greens, stuffing, candied yams, mac and cheese and glazed baked ham. The Huntington has a similar menu, adding turkey wings.

“They want traditional for Thanksgiving,” Nicole says. For Christmas, the Residents change up their wants. “Sometimes it’s lasagna, sometimes ham.”

And on New Year’s Day, the spread is consistent Nicole and Annette say: Pork (ham), collard greens, black-eyed peas and cornbread. At the Hamilton, you might be served fried chicken too.

The assisted living Residents always have their sweet tooth satisfied. At Hamilton, there will be pecan and pumpkin pies with whipped topping, and the Huntington will serve sweet potato pie.

“I love desserts. I love food, but especially the sweets,” Annette says.

“We try to create a home-like atmosphere,” she says, “especially for the holidays and incorporate items we don’t usually have on the regular menu throughout the year.”

The dietary and nursing teams ensures Residents on specific diets have something similar and don’t accidentally wind up with something they are unable to eat on their plate.

“We watch,” Nicole says. “We’re very careful.”

Party on

There also are holiday parties that will have special buffet-style spreads for families and Residents at both assisted living communities.

The Huntington, and Residents at adjoining The Newport Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, will have a dinner buffet that’s open to families and enjoy a performance from Scoundscapes on Dec. 14.

On Dec. 16, The Hamilton and adjoining York Nursing and Rehabilitation Center will have a party with heavy hors d’oeuvres with invited family.

Be our neighbor

Our assisted living communities provide a safe environment when you start to need extra assistance with your healthcare needs.

You and your loved ones will have peace of mind knowing our nursing team is available 24/7 and that your apartment is equipped with bathrooms designed for safety and ease, and a wander-guard system.

Visit us at vahs.com/seniorliving to learn more about our communities and schedule a tour.

Q&A with Arbors Chef: Holiday Edition

The holidays evoke food-specific memories for everyone. We talked with Chef Akira Johnston at The Arbors Independent Living about how to create those memories for Residents.

Q: How do you conceive menus that consider resident traditions? Some Residents before moving in likely hosted holiday gatherings before and now are dependent on your team.

Chef: I just listen. That’s it. I always come to work every day with that concept. These residents are opening their homes for us to essentially work. So when I do my holiday menus, I ask, “What would you want to see on a traditional Thanksgiving menu?”

[There was a meeting with Residents to discuss, among topics, holiday menus.]

Then I try to introduce my creativity to their suggestions.

They said, “we want traditional Thanksgiving food,” which meant unsmoked turkey, mashed potatoes, yams and homemade mac and cheese. They also asked if they could take a meal to go.

I try to just listen to what it is that they want or what they want to see, because sometimes, you know, they could be spending the holidays alone. Their families could be on the side of the country. Some even on the other side of the world. So, it’s like what can we do to make this feel homier for our Residents?

Chef Akira Johnston in chef whites holds a plate of food.
Chef Akira Johnston is ready to serve up tasty holiday fare at The Arbors.
Q: What do holiday menus mean to you?

Chef: I think of good comfort food, something that you’re going to eat a plate of and go for a nap. If they aren’t sleepy by the time they leave the dining room, my job is not done.

I think of good comfort food when I think of the holidays because (the Residents) look forward to this; sharing a meal with your family and your loved ones. Some people, they’ll watch what they eat up until the holidays. It’s time for them to splurge in family time and splurge when it comes down to food.

Q: What types of dishes offer that holiday comfort?
Roasted duck breast, sliced and plated with sweet mashed potatoes and broccolini.
One of Chef Akira’s favorite menu items for the holidays is duck.

Chef: Oh my goodness. They, they want stuffing. They want homemade mac and cheese. They want candied yams. But I also have Residents who love other things, like fish. I don’t want them to be excluded from the holiday fun. I am adding a salmon dish on Thanksgiving and short ribs.

[Chef also gets to know the Residents by working on the line, understanding the orders and knowing the frequency of requests.]

Q: How do you decide what is holiday comfort for Thanksgiving vs. Hanukkah and Christmas?

Chef: Thanksgiving is, again, a little bit more traditional.

I feel like these dishes are already decided, but Christmas and Hanukkah gives us a little bit more of a range to be creative.

[The Arbors will host a Holiday Cheers open house each Wednesday afternoon in December and offer unique dinner specials the week leading up to Christmas Day.]

I’m thinking special menu, Christmas. This is a time to bring in all these great, fun ingredients. This is a time to show off what my team can do in the kitchen. For the Christmas week specials, we’ll have specials like filet mignon, jumbo shrimp, bring in saffron.

Lobster tail cooked and glazed with butter
Lobster will be on the Christmas menu at The Arbors.
Q: What are some “luxury” ingredients you like to pull out for special occasions?

Chef: Definitely saffron. I love saffron. I want to bring in scallops, like those big boy scallops, to run as a special. Lobster, filet mignon, prime rib, lamb chops, duck. Mm, I can keep going. Swordfish, halibut, grouper, Chilean sea bass.

Then, we can put all of our effort into executing this flawless, spectacular dish.

Oh. Yeah. We’re about to get real fancy.

Q:  Are there other ways the team makes the holidays special for Residents?

Chef: The thing that stood out to me the most is I was doing a schedule, trying to be fair, making sure we are all able to enjoy some of the holidays with our family, my team doesn’t want to hear any of that. They are willing to surrender to their time, and are like, listen, we’re ready to. So that, for one, meant a lot to me.

We know these Residents. This is a time to make meals feel less transactional and more personable.

And we try to consider their requests. They are ready for this homemade fried chicken. They’re definitely ready for the prime rib. I’ve had a Resident ask me for lamb chops since I was hired (in January). They’re also definitely looking forward to specials like lobster. Nothing says elegance to me than offering some type of lobster option, like thermidor. I want to add just a little razzle dazzle to elevate the dish.

Join us for Holiday Cheer

The Arbors Independent Living community loves to celebrate the holidays with special chef-prepared meals, events and outings. Our gift to you is a great move-in special!

See our community’s decked halls and share a cup of cheer with us! Join us for a tour during our Holiday Cheer events 2 p.m. Wednesdays in December by calling 757-844-6659 or visit vahs.com/thearbors to schedule and learn about our move-in offer.

Arbors a healthy transition for NASA Langley retiree

Maynard Sandford and his wife Nancy became residents of The Arbors Independent Living in June 2020. He was having heart trouble and the dirt he loved to play “to keep me out of trouble” was too much to maintain.

(The “dirt” was a giant yard with fish ponds and landscaping.)

“I’ve improved so much since moving,” he says.

Nancy says they both are surprised at how well he started doing after the move. He went from barely being able to walk around the block to taking 2.5-mile walks regularly.

He now manages a smaller space, taking on the landscaping for The Arbors with flower beds and hanging baskets. He also maintains a vegetable garden and supplies residents with fresh food.

“I call it the country club,” he says of The Arbors. “I’m regaining my health and keeping my wife happy.”

NASA wind tunnel

Sandford was an aerospace engineer at NASA Langley in Hampton for 35 years. He and Nancy moved to the area in 1959.

“I was there from the beginning,” he says of his placement at the TDT wind tunnel. He tested models for aerodynamics.

“There was no service for NASA employees,” he says, “even though at that time you’d expect I had been drafted. I tried to enlist and was told I was flat-footed. I couldn’t be a pilot.”

Since he was there from the transition from NACA to NASA at the Hampton campus, he did encounter the seven astronauts of the Mercury space program at the gym. While Sandford played handball, the astronauts typically gathered for racquetball.

 “I talked to them a lot,” he says.

“My job was ‘flutter,’” he says, spreading his arms out and flapping them to represent airplane wings. He gave a lot of talks to Air Force and other military officials about the results of the wind tunnel tests. They were making sure jets were safe for flight as well.

It would sometimes take months to build, test and analyze data per wind tunnel model, which often ran to be $2 million to $3 million.

He played a documentary at The Arbors on Veterans Day from his time at Langley, specifically what happened at the wind tunnel. He and the TDT team tested for all types of aircraft, including commercial, spacecraft and parachutes of the space flight modules.

Proud Papa

He retired in 1993. But his legacy at the campus continued with his son, Stephen Sandford, who spent 28 years with NASA, including as Director for Space Technology and Exploration at Langley and senior assignments at Johnson Space Center in Houston. He later published “Gravity Well” and founded a business, Psionic.

“He was a real boss,” Sandford says.

His voice bursts with pride when talking about all of he and Nancy’s three sons and six grandchildren.

They have a son who lives in Maryland and their youngest son is a Navy captain and chaplain who earned a bronze star as a Marine Corps volunteer. He has been to Iraq and Afghanistan, was at the Pentagon and is now in Okinawa, Japan.

One of his grandchildren has published a young adult book, which sits on the shelf of their living room bookcase next to “Gravity Well.”

Early years

Portrait of Nancy Sandford
Nancy Sandford

Nancy and Maynard met in high school. He attended Randolph-Macon to play football.

“I have quite a legacy there,” he says of Randolph-Macon. Two sons, their wives and one of his grandchildren all have attended (or are currently attending) the school.

Sandford says he enjoys playing tennis and regular walks. He used to hike with a friend in the Dismal Swamp regularly for 16 to 20 miles on Thursdays (until 2017). He and friends also would hike portions of the Appalachian Trail, mostly in Virginia, for about 30 years.

Now he enjoys walks around Port Warwick and nearby areas.

Be our neighbor

Does a maintenance-free lifestyle with chef-prepared meals sound enticing? We are offering a holiday move-in special and tours during our Holiday Cheer events 2 p.m. Wednesday in December. Call 757-933-2621 to reserve your space or visit us at vahs.com/thearbors to learn about the community and schedule a tour.

Navy veteran and wife learning to downsize at The Arbors

We love having veterans call The Arbors Independent Living home.

Jack Jeffords and his wife Anne looked at several places in Newport News and York County before settling in a two-bedroom apartment at The Arbors.

“We preferred this so we came here,” he says, saying that being so close to shopping and doctors were determining factors.

He knew residents at The Arbors well before he and his wife moved in. A big bridge fan, Jeffords would come to play once or twice a week.

“We like the people here – we’ve met a lot of residents over the years and enjoy the people we meet,” he says. But they are fairly “self-contained” and enjoy reading and writing in their sunny apartment.

In the Navy

Jeffords served in the Navy for 25 years. The veteran was in a fighter squadron in Vietnam and entered the Navy as an aviation electronics tech. He retired as a Lt. Commander in 1978, and left the Navy to avoid moving his family to the Washington, D.C., area to work at the Pentagon. He was a Naval officer for 15 years.

“I enjoyed the Navy, but would have missed out on everything else (if I hadn’t retired), he says.

He obtained a master’s in engineering from Old Dominion University and a law degree from William and Mary. While he and a friend opened a practice, Jeffords primarily worked for a software company and began teaching full time at ODU in 1989.

He retired from being a full-time professor at Old Dominion in 2005 and published a textbook a few years later. He continued to teach at ODU part time until 2020.

“A lot of my work involved computers,” he says, including at aviation officer school in the Navy. “My wife won’t touch a computer.”

Learning to downsize

He and Anne have six children – three each from previous marriages – and nine grandchildren. They returned to Hampton Roads about five years ago because they wanted to downsize and one of their sons lives nearby.

“Grandchildren are scattered all over,” he says.

It’s been a challenge going from a four-bedroom home to a two-bedroom apartment.

“We’re still trying to figure that out,” he says with a chuckle.

Growing up, his family lived in Texas, Chicago, upstate New York and New York City before Jeffords enrolled at the University of Virginia, about 70 years ago.

He met Anne there while she was attending Longwood, but it was 16 years before they married. It was 1966 that “really brought us together,” he says. They had previously kept in touch via Christmas cards. They’ve been married for 53 years.

“Anne never left Virginia” – she is originally from South Boston – and taught elementary and high school, and at Tidewater Community College.

Before the pandemic, Jack and Anne enjoyed traveling and would spend a lot of time visiting their children on the West Coast and weeks at a time in Florida.

Mr. Jeffords is a graduate of the University of Virginia and proudly displays the Cavaliers’ colors throughout the home.

Jeffords also enjoys going to U.Va. games – best during the George Welch era.

“It certainly has been an interesting life,” he says.

One of Jeffords current projects is genealogy. He wrote a biography of his brother for his grandchildren so they could get to know him since he passed. An Army vet, Bob Jeffords was a unit production manager on shows including “Murphy Brown” and “Spenser for Hire.”

Dietary at ‘heart’ of VHS independent, assisted living communities and nursing centers

Nutrition is fundamental to living and meals in senior living settings are a source of healthy socialization. Providing both requires a safe environment and an enthusiastic, well-trained team.

In honor of Healthcare Food Service Worker Week (Oct. 2-8, 2022), we are highlighting all our team does.

Virginia Health Services’ dietary department is instrumental in making sure recipes are executed according to Residents’ diets, they are prepared safely and served at proper temperature, and that the Residents have their needs met to the best of the team’s ability.

“So much of what dietary does is behind the scenes, but our buildings cannot function without dietary,” says Viki Reynolds, Director of Dining and Nutrition for VHS.

“It may not be seen, but it’s part of the heart of the building and it takes a lot of skill. Our staff members have to have a large span of skills to make sure we’re compliant and meeting Residents preference. It’s important for them to get nutrition, to serve healthy meals and provide a dining experience. For them, it’s socialization and comfort.”

In other words, from James River Nursing and Rehabilitation Center Dining Services Manager Linda Jones, “Dietary rocks!”

Teresa Bowen is the dietary manager at Coliseum.

Jones, who has worked for VHS for 27 years, says it’s a privilege to be a part of the team.

“I’ve learned a lot, and had a lot of good people to teach me,” she says. “It’s challenging but it’s rewarding. Your heart has to be with the Residents.”

The Dietary Manager at Coliseum Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Teresa Bowen, says, “I like the Residents. Working in a place like this, unlike a restaurant, they appreciate what you do for them.”

Unlike in fast food job where you might just flip a hamburger, “we do way more than that!”

Meal preparation

The dietary departments of our senior living communities and nursing centers wear many hats to get nutrition to Residents, serve healthy meals and encourage Residents to socialize.

Each Resident’s needs vary. Residents in skilled nursing units are trying to gain strength to rehab and get home. Some Residents may need to take food with certain medications, and their tray timing has to work in synch with the nursing team.

Some Residents need a therapeutic diet (such as low-concentrated salt or sugar) or a textural diet if they have trouble chewing or swallowing (such as meat already cut, softened vegetables or a pureed meal).

The dietary side has to match up with the care plan from the nursing side, Reynolds says.

Residents and families don’t see the actual work that’s being put in, Jones says, but they see the result.

“It takes a certain type of person to do the work and it’s serious,” Jones says. “It gets deep, when it comes to diets, and knowing what is right by the Residents. “It’s serious work and it isn’t easy.”

In addition to abiding by diets and allergies, there are codes and regulations to follow, including when and how frequently trays are loaded onto carts, the temperature of the meal and more.

“That can be overwhelming sometimes,” Jones says.

Venzel Snead is a cook at Coliseum Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

The upside is knowing you are working hard for the Residents.

“I love seeing the Residents’ happy faces when they eat the food that I make. It brings me joy,” says Coliseum cook Venzel Snead. He spent years in restaurants before coming to long-term care.

“Here you are a bit more intimate with the Residents and can improve what you’re doing so they see it (the consistency), unlike in a restaurant, you change customers daily. They really appreciate what we do.”

Healthcare food service

Our dietary team really gets to know the Residents’ preferences and makes note of them. They will fulfill special requests when they can. They get to know the Residents and their families.

“It takes a team. Everybody that’s working in that dietary department is important,” Jones says. “You do the best you can do.

“You have to be all in and have a humble spirit. You need to be able to receive feedback and want to do things the right way; learn from a mistake and be willing to learn. Be enthusiastic, be hyped up, be on fire!”

The James River team, led by Linda Jones (left), recently rolled out a continental breakfast for Residents that they enjoyed.

Bowen says, “You cook like you cook at home, but a different amount. And less fat and salt. I encourage my team to do different things. We will tweak recipes if we have to.”

And everyone gets geared up to serve holiday meals, such as Cornish hens, ribeye steaks and turkey dinners.

The dietary team becomes part of the Resident’s family. Jones says you often meet with Residents and families who understand you are doing a service.

“At the end of the day, I can visit a Resident’s room and hear, ‘thank you for all you do,’” she says. That appreciation helps build morale.

So does encouragement from the leadership team.

“I like that I see the administration and they’re not afraid to get down and dirty (if we need help),” Bowen says.

Teamwork and being able to come together to “be ready to do the impossible,” Jones says, means “we can do so much more and be so much better if we’re all on the same page.”

Chef Akira Johnston prepares meals on the line at The Arbors Independent Living.

Senior living

At The Arbors Independent Living, and The Hamilton and The Huntington Assisted Living, there are a few more choices in dining. Chef Akira Johnston and her team change the menu monthly to keep dishes and choices fresh for the Residents of The Arbors.

The assisted living communities also are introducing more options, Reynolds says, with more to come.

“We’re figuring out how to best serve our population,” she says.

The Huntington and The Hamilton offer pre-meal bread service, and will introduce a soup or salad course before the meal, “to encourage the Residents to come down and socialize.”

A third dessert offering is also to come, and the dietary staff is figuring out how to interact more with Residents at their room, such as offering fresh, hot items with the help of hot plates and toasters on each floor.

The dining and dietary team at The Hamilton Assisted Living helped pull off a fun “Cheeseburger in Paradise” party for AL Week in September.

To encourage Residents to eat in the dining room more often (which during the height of COVID went underutilized), the dining managers are ordering fresh linens and chinaware to improve aesthetics, Reynolds said. They also are in the process of setting up a breakfast bar that will feature items like fresh fruit, pastries, muffins, cereal and coffee.

Johnston and the teams at The Huntington and The Hamilton also are excited to introduce fun fare in time for the holidays.

Join our team

Our dietary department is hiring cooks and aides for all of our locations. Job descriptions and how to apply can be found at vahs.com/careers.

“The road is bumpy right now, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” Jones says of knowing quality, skilled team members are being hired.

Residents of The Arbors share why they love calling it home

What happens when the rigors of homeownership become too much? For three women residents of The Arbors Independent Living, the answer was moving in.

Without having to worry about home and lawn maintenance, cooking and cleaning, or keeping up with too much space after children had moved out, residents at The Arbors are able to enjoy themselves.

We’re celebrating Joy Week this week and taking advantage of the events the team has planned. Get to know our residents and why they decided to call The Arbors home below.

No more yardwork!

Nancy Sandford knew keeping up with the landscaping in their Hampton home had become too much for her husband. She was ready to find a place to call home that didn’t require so much work. Nancy convinced him after he retired that it was time to downsize to something with less maintenance.

She and her husband moved into The Arbors the end of June 2020.

Her husband still gets to work with his hands outside, but to a manageable degree. He does the landscaping at The Arbors, planting flowers and caring for the hanging baskets and beds.

Bridge is Nancy Sandford’s favorite game and she has found several outlets to play it as an Arbors resident.
Moving to The Arbors

“When we came here, we stopped looking,” Nancy said.

It was small, attractive and the staff was warm and sincere.

“We found a home,” she said. “We love it and wouldn’t change a thing.”

The Sanfords feel safe and enjoy taking walks around Port Warwick. The location is ideal, Nancy said.

The staff is patient and caring, particularly when it comes to helping the aging population, she said.

Living in an apartment “can be isolating,” she said. “You can make it be as homey as you want by never leaving your apartment, but if you did that, you miss the wonderful people and activities here.”

Nancy praised activity director Ora Williams and Chef Akira Johnston on adding life and fun to The Arbors. The food is tasty and the activities keep Nancy going.

She plays in several bridge groups – it’s her favorite game – and while she doesn’t care for Bingo, she does enjoy the company and camaraderie of the people.

“The people are the best part. I can have as much privacy as I want,” she said.

Out of the house
Nancy Sandford retired from being a nurse before moving into The Arbors. She loved being a middle school nurse.

Nancy and her husband were married after college and moved to Hampton in 1959. They met in high school. She attended nursing school in Richmond and he was a student at Randolph-Macon before they married.

Her husband was an aerospace engineer for NASA Langley. While his role involved testing airplane aerodynamics in the wind tunnel, when he went to the gym in those early days on Langley’s campus, he would run into the Mercury 7 astronauts.

Nancy retired from being an RN. She ended her career as a nurse at a middle school, though she said her favorite job as a nurse was the newborn nursery. She worked part-time while raising her children.

Nancy and her husband have three sons and six grandchildren.

Joyce Belote knew she wanted to call The Arbors home once her 10-room home in Newport News became too much.

Ready to make the move

Joyce Belote became an Arbors resident in May 2018, a short while after her husband of 64 years passed away.

Two years before her husband passed away, Joyce already had the notion she was ready to move into something smaller with less maintenance. The 10-room home on the cul-de-sac was too big for the two of them with her children moved out (but still living nearby).

Her husband’s dementia and reluctance to move from where he was comfortable prevented her from taking the next step, but she had on the original visit scoped out the apartment view she wanted to have.

The week of her husband’s passing, that view became available and the Arbors team worked with her to reserve it as she went through the steps of handling the estate.

“I couldn’t be happier here. I have no complaints at all,” she says.

Her sons are within “five minutes of me” and her sister recently purchased a condo across Styron Square where when the leaves fall, they’ll be able to wave at one another from their windows.

Her sister is 17 years younger, “so I’ll have a driver should I stop being able to do that,” she says with a chuckle.

And she is so happy with the location. She didn’t want to look anywhere else when she decided to move into an independent living community because the Arbors is close to everything she wants, including her doctors, shopping and restaurants, and her family.

“The location is fantastic,” she says.

Nesting

Joyce has a lot of interests and collectibles. She was a bridal consultant and keeps many dolls in wedding dresses, including one of Princess Diana, in a curio cabinet in her living room. Each of the dolls has a story and she has presented them to her peers at The Arbors during a “show and tell” in the past year.

Her kitchen is bright and cheery with a strong lemon theme.

“I didn’t start doing it until I moved here. My kitchen at my house was yellow. It had yellow cabinets,” she says. Now the color accents the space of her kitchen at The Arbors as a nod to her Maxwell Gardens home of 54 years.

Joyce has an entire bookshelf of scrapbooks. “I’m a picture freak,” she says. There are family photos and portraits all over the walls, and she loves the digital frame her family gave her where photos of the kids can be uploaded from any device.

She has four granddaughters and two great-grandchildren, including a two-month-old girl who Joyce knitted a blanket for. All of the grandchildren are in their 30s. The youngest she calls “a precious doll.”

Joyce is a big fan of Chef Akira’s food. “She is fabulous. We’re offered great meal options here. I eat very healthy here.”

She says she has a lot of dietary restrictions, but can always find something that satisfies them, and her, on the menu.

“Ora keeps us so busy we don’t know which way is up,” Joyce says of the activity director. “I go to everything that’s going on.”

She can be seen at happy hours, events and outings. Where you won’t find her is playing bridge or bingo. She loves the group she plays Mexican train dominoes with, however.

“Growing up strict Baptist, there weren’t any games. No cards unless it was Old Maid or something, so this was a change,” she says.

She also started the knitting group when she moved in. They meet on Wednesday afternoons and the dominoes group plays on Tuesday nights.

From the beginning

Joyce and her husband are from Newport News. She was a dental assistant before and after raising her children, and later worked as a bridal consultant and at the Village Stitchery in Hilton Village for 10 years until it closed. “I was still working there when I came here,” she says.

She still attends Temple Baptist, where she has been a member for 60 years, and participates in their groups. She hosts her Sunday school class occasionally at The Arbors, which caters the gathering.

Joyce grew up in the Wythe section of Hampton, graduating Hampton High School in 1953.

She met Donnie through a friend of a friend after a night out dancing at the Hampton Country Club. He was just out of the Air Force and attending William and Mary. They married in 1956 and “we were on a shoestring! I probably had as much space in that first apartment as I do now!” They were living on her salary while the GI Bill paid for Donnie’s schooling.

He became a mortgage banker and then a real estate appraiser. Despite adamantly not wanting to follow in their father’s footsteps, both sons are real estate appraisers as well.

“No one has moved from Virginia. I couldn’t keep them all in Newport News, but we’re all in the same state!”

They used to have a home in Nags Head, and now one of her sons purchased a home in Kitty Hawk, so they still are able to take advantage of going to the Outer Banks when the mood strikes.

Happy at home

“I wish more people would give the Arbors a chance,” she says. It really can have a community feel and it isn’t a place where people go to die, but to live, she says.

“This to me is just like being home,” she says. “I didn’t know anybody when I came here.”

When you move, “it’s a relief to your children.” Her sons were completely on board with her decision, and relieved to not have to worry about her living in a large house alone, concerned with its upkeep in and out.

Joyce has taken advantage of VHS Rehabilitation, which is right next door.

“They’ve got a fantastic crew there,” Joyce says. She was discharged after a knee replacement about two years ago and loved that rehab was “right here in the building.”

She says she will be 88 in January and is glad to still be driving. She knows when she no longer can, the transportation options at The Arbors are useful.

Carol Richardson’s passion for quilting is on display throughout her apartment.

Necessary move

Carol Richardson moved into The Arbors about 10 months ago because she says she knew she couldn’t live in her Newport News home from the 1970s.

“It wasn’t wheelchair accessible,” she says. No longer in a wheelchair, she still knew downsizing was the right move for her about four years after her husband’s passing.

Her children left her little choice. She moved into The Arbors after time in a rehabilitation facility where she got back on her feet following a broken leg.

Her son made the arrangements and moved in pieces of furniture, pictures and quilting supplies from her home of about 30 years.

She moved from a four-bedroom home to a studio.

“I made a move I needed to,” she says, adding that while it’s odd to be thankful for breaking her leg, the injury made her realize how necessary it was to downsize to something maintenance-free and accessible.

She was familiar with Port Warwick, but couldn’t place the location of The Arbors until she moved in. Now she takes advantage of the location and takes long walks, usually after dinner. She likes setting goals and has a goal of about 5,500 steps a day. Sometimes it’s more, sometimes it’s less, but she is happy to be moving.

“It’s a great place to walk,” she says.

“I can cook if I want, but I don’t have to. Noise hasn’t been an issue. Once I figured out the thermostat and adapted to my surroundings, I started to feel good,” she says. “I’m very easy going.”

Moving in

Carol says she has made some friends since moving into The Arbors. She says there is a good balance between maintaining privacy and socializing, being able to do as much or as little as she chooses.

“I like to stay busy,” she says.

She and friend Beverly, who recently moved in, eat together regularly. “She’s 92, and she just says things that make you laugh,” Carol says.

You can always find her enjoying events and outings. She participates in the crafting activities and enjoys starting the day with group exercise class.

“It starts my day off right,” she says.

She says The Arbors is starting to feel like home. She has even started to refer to it as such. She had to make some hard choices about what to bring and what to store or get rid of after selling her home.

Quilting

Carol has a stack of her favorite quilts in a corner, with her most prized piece on the top. She says quilting “always has been my therapy,” but while she was caring for her husband at home the last year of his life, she never even walked into her sewing room. “I don’t know why,” she says.

Following his passing, she and her quilting guild worked on a beautiful piece of bright pinks against a dark backing.

“I’m glad I got my mojo back,” she says. “I’m an artist. I can’t draw worth a lick, but I create art with fabric and thread.”

She also is planning ahead. She’s made a box of eight quilts, one for each grandchild, that resides with her daughter in New Jersey. They are intended for her great-grandchildren when they come along.

Family life

Carol married her high school sweetheart Jimmy in 1967. They were married while she was still in school, and she says her mother let her move out after graduation. They started their family soon after, with a daughter and two sons. Carol has eight grandchildren and shares with pride all they’ve accomplished in their 14 to 26 years.

She was still in a wheelchair when one of her grandsons was playing in his last high school football game. She arranged transportation to Todd Stadium in Newport News.

“Grandma wasn’t going to miss her grandson’s last game,” she says. She’s looking forward to watching him play at Christopher Newport University. “My son already has my ticket.”

Her husband worked for NASA Langley for 36 years.

“He crashed airplanes for a living,” she says, recalling bringing the children to visit the Gantry while their father worked. (You can still see the Gantry on Langley’s campus driving out of Poquoson on Wythe Creek Road. They still crash planes there, too.)

Carol’s passion and interest has been sewing, which she learned how to do at age 9. She spent a good majority of her career after child-rearing in the costume departments of Busch Gardens and the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation.

“That was great fun. I got to make so many interesting costumes!” she says, sharing a few photos of costumes she worked on at Busch Gardens.

Call The Arbors home

With its ideal location and neighbors like Nancy, Joyce and Carol, why wouldn’t you want to call The Arbors home? Visit vahs.com/thearbors to explore our community, view floor plans and schedule a Taste & Tour, where lunch is on us. You also can call 757-933-2621 for information on services, rates and availability.

Hamilton residents love the company

We are celebrating National Assisted Living Week! Our team at The Hamilton Assisted Living will provide plenty of “Joyful Moments” for our Residents. A few residents wanted to share their experiences about what is like to move into and live at The Hamilton, which is located in York County, Virginia.

The Hamilton offers 40 private apartments with kitchenettes. The dining room provides breakfast, lunch and dinner service, and the activity director makes sure the social calendar is always full. A nursing team is available 24/7 to provide peace of mind and assist our Residents.

The Cheerleader

Carolyn Carter just recently started to call The Hamilton home. She has been a Resident since late June.

“It’s super. Everything has been so what I needed. To be with all the nice people and always do something, it’s what I like,” she says.

The former high school cheerleading coach can be found at all of The Hamilton’s events and activities.

“I like to busy, and I like to be around people a lot. I’m a nonstop person,” she says with a chuckle. She keeps her fellow Residents laughing as well.

The socialization aspect of an assisted living center was important to her when she moved.

“The Hamilton is wonderful. This is just what I needed. … I don’t like to stay in my room watching TV. I can do that at night,” she says.

The Martinsville native has a son who lives in Williamsburg and a daughter in Alabama. She has four grandchildren.

“My son is super. He’s always been so good to me,” she says. She lived with her daughter before coming to The Hamilton, saying, “I’m a Virginia girl.”

Feeling safe also was a priority. She says she feels that way at The Hamilton. The attentive staff also make her feel comfortable in her new home.

Comfortable in her home

Eva Roithmeyer starting residing at The Hamilton in May.

“I wanted an assisted living near my children (after my husband died),” she said.

She lives closest to her oldest son, who is an engineer at NASA Langley in Hampton. He and his family live in York County after moving to the area from Houston.

Eva enjoys playing Mexican train dominoes and visits from the therapy dogs!

Eva is originally from Mexico. She was working as bilingual secretary for an American company there when she met her husband, who traveled frequently to the country, through a friend of a friend.

He was a marine biologist for NOAA, and they moved from Morehead City, N.C., to Mississippi and Colorado. She has four children and seven grandchildren, who range in age from 7 to 33.

“I’m very happy with the place and people. … I like my apartment,” she says. “I like most of the activities.”

Eva often can be found in the second-floor activity room playing Mexican train dominoes with friends.

“I had a good life and I’m happy to be here: here in the world and here in this room,” she says with a smile.

The Army veteran

Alfred Richeson is still adjusting to living at The Hamilton.

Richeson served in the Army in Vietnam and then worked for IBM.

“I’d prefer to not be sick, like everyone in this room,” he says.

A man of the world, the Army veteran served in Vietnam as a member of the 82nd Airborne. After retiring from the Army in 1980, he spent 20 years working for IBM.

He was first assigned to Germany, and has lived all over the world thanks to his careers, including in Hong Kong, Toyoko, New York and Washington, D.C.

The West Point graduate is originally from Colorado and moved “to get as far away from Colorado as I could.”

He has two sons, one of whom lives in North Carolina, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren with another “on the way.”

Call our home your home

Learn more about our community and schedule a tour by visiting vahs.com/thehamilton or call 757-933-2621 for information on services, rates and availability. Our website has floor plans and details about our community.

Huntington residents feel at ease at home

We are celebrating National Assisted Living Week! Our team at The Huntington Assisted Living will provide plenty of “Joyful Moments” for our Residents. A few residents wanted to share their experiences about what is like to move into and live at The Huntington, which is located in Newport News, Virginia. Its “yard” is the Mariners’ Museum Park.

The Huntington offers 32 private apartments with kitchenettes. The dining room provides breakfast, lunch and dinner service, and the activity director makes sure the social calendar is always full. A nursing team is available 24/7 to provide peace of mind and assist our Residents.

Loving life

Karen Waldfogel moved into The Huntington about two years ago. She recovered from an injury at The Newport Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, which is next door, and it became clear she needed more care than her support team at home could provide.

Karen enjoys our outings!

“I wanted to go home, but I can’t. I like it here,” she says.

She says the Huntington team is excellent, caring and considerate. The food “is coming along” and is usually tasty. She really likes the lasagna and pizza.

“(Activity Director) April is good to us, she always finds something fun for us to do,” she says. “If we didn’t have April, we wouldn’t know what to do.”

Karen enjoys the arts and crafts sessions with volunteers Martha and Jerry Dodson once a month.

She also has had a great experience with the VHS Rehabilitation therapists onsite.

“They’re just super,” she says. “I can get around pretty good now.”

The camaraderie with the fellow Huntington residents is genuine.

“I’ve made a lot of friends here,” she says, including her best friend who resides at The Newport.

Family life

Karen moved here with her family in 1965 when her father was transferred to NASA Langley in Hampton from Houston. He worked on the Galileo program, which explored Jupiter and its moons. He previously worked for Boeing and the family bounced from their native home of Lansing, Michigan, to various places including Seattle, California and Alabama.

“He was an amazing man,” she says. He passed away last year. She has a brother who lives with their 91-year-old mother nearby. Her mother was a nurse and she has two brothers and two sisters.

“My mom picks me up to go to church on Saturdays,” she says, when community rates of COVID-19 are lower. They attend Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

Karen has a daughter and three grandsons. She had a son who has passed away.

A room of one’s own

Marjorie Barnes was admitted after an injury for skilled rehabilitation at The Newport Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in 2018. She moved into the attached Huntington to continue her rehab.

Marjorie loves having her own space.

While she has been debating moving back to her home with her daughter, she loves her privacy and living space at The Huntington.

“Gotta hang on to something that’s mine,” she says of not being ready to sell her house to her daughter yet. She adds, “I just want my kids to live their lives.”

She enjoys her friends at The Huntington and the food. “I love the soup,” she says.

“I’ve been in Newport News for quite a while now,” she says. She and her husband moved to the area when he was transferred by the Army to Fort Eustis. He spent most of his career there, save for about two years the family moved to the base in the Azores.

“It was really nice,” she says. Most of her children – there were five kids – were school age while in the Azores. “The children really enjoyed it.”

She has several grandchildren – “too many to remember.”

“All of my children are so nice to me,” she says.

Call our home your home

Learn more about our community and schedule a tour by visiting vahs.com/thehuntington or call 757-933-2621 for information on services, rates and availability. Our website has floor plans and details about our community.