The folks who call Village On The Isle home come from many walks of life and faith traditions. Yet, they all have one thing in common: a spirit of gratefulness and giving for the people who live and work at Venice’s only not-for-profit Life Plan Community. Here are just a few of the many ways that residents are spreading holiday joy to their neighbors and the caring employees who carry out our community’s mission every day.
Saying “thank you” through the Employee Gratuity Fund
From nurses and cooks to cleaners and van drivers, Village On The Isle employs over 200 dedicated people. Most residents never get to meet many of them, but they still show their appreciation each year by contributing to the Employee Gratuity Fund.
Ed Boudreaux, who’s been a Village On The Isle resident for six years, explains how the program works. “Our six-member committee does active fundraising from October through December,” he says. “We do a little praying, and it usually works out quite well.”
Boudreaux notes that the committee never actually sees the money, which goes directly to the finance group at Village On The Isle. They take care of the banking and allocate the funds based on the number of hours worked.
Checks are given out at the Holiday Party in December, and it’s a heart-warming experience for residents and recipients alike. “Those checks actually amount to Christmas for a number of employees,” Boudreaux says, his voice overflowing with emotion. “And everybody goes home with big smiles on their faces. It breaks me up. It really does.”
One year the committee will never forget is 2022, when Hurricane Ian blew through Florida and disrupted countless lives. “The contributions last year were well beyond my expectations, and when I announced this at our meeting, I thanked Mother Nature for her help,” Boudreaux explains. “But I also asked her to help a little more gently next time.”
Paying it forward with the Employee Scholarship Fund
Many of our residents received scholarships when they were in school, and remember fondly how much it meant to them. The Employee Scholarship Fund is one way they can share that experience with a new generation of young learners.
“I remember starting out (not so plush) and how a scholarship made such a difference to me,” says Kathie Winemiller, a nine-year resident and Scholarship Fund committee member. “Now, we can help the employees here have the career they hope for in the field they want to be in.”
The Scholarship Fund committee has about 10 members, many of whom were involved in education before retiring. Scholarships are awarded on an “as-asked-for basis,” and up to $5,000 per year may be sent directly to the school, college or certification program (for fields like EMT and cosmetology).
One of Winemiller’s favorite stories involves a young man training to be an underwater welder (yes, you read that right!). “I had never heard of that before, but we were glad to help him gain this unusual certification,” she says. “Later, he told us that he was able to find a job almost immediately. So, we felt that we had really made a difference in his life.”
Spreading sunshine to friends and neighbors
One day in 2022, resident Jan Haynes was approached by some of the entertainers who run our Haines. They were hoping to put together a singing group to go around the community and lift the spirits of people who may not be having such a great day. That’s how the Sunshine Girls came to be.
Mary Helen Maddigan, who’s been part of the Village On The Isle community since 2019, is an active member of the Sunshine Girls and takes great pride in the group’s mission.
“We consider what we’re doing to be a form of music therapy, helping to uplift people and give them a better feeling about where they are in their lives,” she says. “We sing familiar songs like ‘Happy Days Are Here Again’ or ‘Side by Side,’ and sometimes, we tell short stories that are related to the song.”
Performing at the Health Center is especially meaningful for Maddigan and the other Sunshine Girls. “When we finish our program, all of our members go out into the group to ask how their day is going and chat for a while,” she explains. “It really kind of makes their day.”
Of course, no spotlight on the Sunshine Girls would be complete without a shout-out to accompanist Laura Noschese. “We’re very fortunate to have Laura, because she adds so many embellishments to our singing,” Maddigan says. “She’s really a vital part of our group.”
Living generously yields priceless rewards
Residents here at Village On The Isle understand that they didn’t get to experience living this well on their own, which is why they want to help others enjoy success too. And casting their bread upon the waters gives them bountiful feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction.
Kathie Winemiller sums it up: “Well, when we help others, we know that we’re bringing help or pleasure to others who need it. The smiles keep getting bigger, and we get beautiful notes saying ‘thank you, thank you, thank you.’”
If you’re ready for a fun, secure and maintenance-free life overflowing with opportunities to make meaningful contributions, we invite you to experience a day at Village On The Isle.
Schedule your visit or learn more today by calling 941-202-4451.