Time to Connect–Seabury Resources for Aging
By Christy Brudin
Whether you are forging a friendship or building a business, creating strong bonds is hard work. In a world filled with quick solutions and easy fixes, the act of building relationships still requires perseverance. Connecting takes time.
Seabury Resources for Aging has been taking the time to connect with older adults in the greater Washington, D.C. area for nearly 90 years. The private, nonprofit organization focuses on providing personalized, affordable services and housing options to help older adults maintain their independence and dignity.
Started as the Episcopal Church home in 1924, Seabury has grown to include services to meet the needs of a diverse group of seniors and their families (see timeline below). Seabury now offers independent living, assisted living, retirement homes for formerly homeless seniors, care management, senior services for Ward 5 residents, assistance for aging in place, congregational resources and transportation services.
By offering free and affordable services to local seniors, Seabury is providing vital resources that would not otherwise be available. Every year, the organization serves more than 5,000 individuals, connecting them with the services they need to maintain and improve their lifestyles. Learning about these connections first-hand is the best way to understand what Seabury means to its clients.
Connecting with Care
“I think of Carla as my best friend,” said Marjorie Snowden of her care manager Carla Rawlings.
As a Seabury care manager, Carla coordinates Marjorie’s care, working with doctors and other caregivers to help her navigate any health challenges and manage her medications. She began working with Marjorie while she was still living in her home in Bethesda and continues to provide services to her in the assisted living community where she now lives.
“In addition to appreciating all the things she does for me, I just love Carla,” said Marjorie. “We eat together when we have to go to doctor’s appointments, and I always look forward to that. We’ve really built a nice friendship.”
Marjorie retired several years ago following a career in advertising and publishing. Her father, a photographer and author, helped launch her career by requesting her editorial and design feedback while she was still in elementary school. The young Marjorie gave advice and gained confidence. Not surprisingly, her career started out in publishing and, after a brief stint in international relations, ended in advertising.
After her husband passed away, Marjorie was living alone in her family home and began to experience some health problems. Her attorney recommended that she seek help from Seabury’s Care Management. That recommendation led Marjorie to Carla. For the past two years, the two women have formed a real partnership – not to mention a strong friendship.
Connecting with the Community
After her father suddenly passed away, Mary Sharp and her mother moved from Pennsylvania to Washington, D.C. A young woman at the time, Mary enrolled in business school and after completing the program, got a job with the United States Postal Service. She remained with the
agency for 30 years and held various secretarial and assistant positions during her tenure.
Mary and her elderly mother shared a family home in Chevy Chase, Md., for years. However, after her mother passed away, Mary was finding it hard to make ends meet on her own.
“I was volunteering at a local church when I heard about Friendship Terrace,” Mary recalled. Seabury at Friendship Terrace is an affordable independent living community in Northwest Washington near the Tenleytown Metro Station. Mary immediately liked the community and decided that it was time to make the move. That was 26 years ago.
“This is just a wonderful neighborhood,” Mary said. “There are lots of professionals, and we have schools nearby. It’s so nice to see the kids walking to and from school with their parents.”
In addition to the amenities of the surrounding community, residents also benefit from Friendship Terrace’s robust schedule of activities. “There is an awful lot to do here: dancing, movies, social hours, dinner, sports. We really have everything you can think of wanting, and we have a wonderful staff too,” concluded Mary.
Connecting with Compassion
When Dr. Andrew (Andy) Gaskins retired from the U.S. Department of Education, he was the director of 10 regional offices across the country. With a doctorate in Psychology, he spent his career counseling and consulting students, educators and administrators. Now, in retirement, he focuses his immense skills on his friends and neighbors at Seabury at Springvale Terrace.
Located in Silver Spring, Md., Springvale Terrace offers affordable independent living and varying levels of assisted living.
Andy moved to the community after falling and injuring his back. “I was living in D.C. at the time, but after the fall, I wasn’t very mobile, and I knew I needed help,” he said. After moving to Springvale Terrace, Andy got the help he needed to recover, so he could focus on helping others.
“These people are like my family,” said Andy of his fellow residents. “I visit the assisted living residents; they are in their 80s, 90s and 100s. I comfort them, and they appreciate me.”
Andy has used his long-time love of photography to connect with his fellow residents. “I take lots of pictures of people here. I love to see their smiles,” he said. In addition to acting as the community’s unofficial photographer, he also works closely with the activity staff to plan new events and make sure the residents who are immobile can attend and participate.
In the 14 years he has been living at Springvale Terrace, Andy has certainly touched a lot of lives – and has been moved by many of his peers. “It’s such a great pleasure for me to be there for the other residents and to give back to those who are less able,” he said. “It’s such a good feeling inside.”
Connecting with Peers
When George Logan Broadus found out he was going to have to stop driving because of his worsening glaucoma, it was a shock. “It was like someone took a hammer and hit me or something,” he said.
Gloria Duckett knows that feeling. She has struggled with vision problems her whole life. Born blind in her right eye, she developed glaucoma that eventually took the sight in her left eye. She turned her disability into an opportunity by becoming a Braille teacher. She is now the Director of Seabury’s Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Northeast Washington, D.C.
The Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired serves all of Washington, D.C. The program offers seniors with visual impairments a safe, enriching environment five days a week. In addition to lunch, the center provides independent living skills training, Braille instruction, music therapy, arts and crafts, and transportation.
For Raleigh Turner, Jr., who lost his sight due to glaucoma over the course of 20 years, the Center is a place where he feels comfortable. “You don’t realize how encouraging it is to come and be among other blind people,” he said. “I can hardly put it into words, but it’s different than being around all sighted people. They just can’t understand you the way another blind person can.”
George also enjoys the camaraderie the Center provides, as well as the array of activities. “This program is marvelous,” he said. “There are so many activities that I can’t even name them all. I’m quite sure that anyone who came for a day would come back and join us.”
For George and Raleigh and many of the Center’s participants, the program is a lifeline – helping them to envision a happy, healthy life with a visual impairment. “So many people come here down and out because they are wondering how they are going to make it,” said Gloria. “Once they are enrolled, they realize they don’t have to sit home because they are visually impaired; they can come here and have fun just like a sighted person.”
Connecting at Home
A native Washingtonian, Vivian Adams met her husband while working in the housekeeping department at George Washington University when she was a teenager. She later attended the University of D.C., taught in the local school system and held a variety of government positions.
When her husband developed pancreatic cancer in his 50s, Vivian served as his caregiver. After he passed away, she continued to live in their home in the District’s Ward 5, a neighborhood where she has deep roots.
Several years ago, Vivian’s doctor diagnosed her with chronic arthritis. She joined a support group at Providence Hospital, which connected her with Seabury’s Age-In-Place (AIP) program.
AIP offers free year-round yard work and house cleaning services to persons 60 years or older, of low-to-moderate income, who are living in their homes in D.C.’s Wards 4 or 5. For many of these elderly individuals, the program means the difference between remaining in their beloved homes and being forced to move.
Given her arthritis, there are many home and yard tasks that are impossible for Vivian to complete. Enlisting the help of AIP has helped her maintain her independence. “I am very pleased with their services,” she said. “They always do an excellent job, and they do things that are really important for me to continue to live at home.”
Vivian echoed the sentiments of so many Seabury clients when she concluded, “I can’t imagine growing old without Seabury.”
Taking the Time to Connect
Whether they are bonding with a care manager or getting help with home maintenance, all of Seabury’s clients are benefiting from the organization’s commitment to service and focus on helping seniors live their best life – independently and with dignity. For low-to-moderate income seniors in the Washington, D.C. area, Seabury is the organization that keeps them connected and takes the time to connect with them. After all, making strong connections can take a considerable amount of time, and Seabury has been building relationships with local seniors for 90 years.
For more information about Seabury’s services, leadership and history, please visit the website: www.seaburyresources.org.