Monday, June 27, 2016

WC People: Meet Betty and Dick Binford

WC People is an ongoing series of profiles of residents, staff, volunteers and others associated with Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay. Our community brings together men and women from all walks of life with amazing stories to tell. We are proud to share them with you.

When asked what they do in their spare time, Betty and Dick Binford glance at each other and smiles spread across their faces.

They never stop moving.

Their energy and ambition were apparent from an early age. Betty graduated high school at age 15 and went directly to nursing school, graduating at 19. She joined the Air Force, where she met Dick in Peru, Indiana on her way to her first active duty tour at Offutt AFB, Omaha, NE.

While both Betty and Dick remain humble, their accomplishments are outstanding.

“While stationed at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, the Cuban missile crisis occurred,” Dick says. “Betty was the only flight-qualified nurse anesthetist in the entire Air Force. While she was never deployed, she was given a surgical team and remained on call for months.”

Betty and Dick’s wedding invitation and photos from their time in the service. 
After four and a half years, Betty left the service and worked at different hospitals around the country. Dick’s military career lasted for 30 years, taking them and their three children all over the world, until he retired as a colonel in 1988. His time in the Air Force included 10 years in the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) and 20 in manpower management.

However, “retirement” did not have the same meaning to Dick as it does to most people because he immediately took a job with a human resource management and consulting firm, The Hay Group, where he stayed for twelve years.

He hasn’t stopped yet.

Dick now volunteers 30 hours per week for the AARP Tax Aide program, which provides free tax preparation services at the Virginia Beach Central Library.

“There are more than 8,500 sites in the nation that provide this free service,” Dick says. “I’m proud that we’re number two in production. We’re able to complete 75 to 100 returns per day.”

At WC, Dick is chairman of the Golf Croquet Club, which has over 100 members, plays ping pong, sings in three choirs and often plays golf that many days per week.

In addition to being a docent at the Virginia Aquarium for 12 years, Betty has joined the WC Wellness Committee, enjoys sorting and pricing clothing for WC’s Flotsam & Jetsam (F&J), and goes to Zumba, yoga and the fitness center four days a week.

Together, they love to play golf croquet and the Dutch game of Sjoelbak and to travel (their latest trip was a riverboat cruise in France).

Betty and Dick in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris as part of the riverboat cruise of France in 2016.
“We’ve never been more active than we are now,” says Betty. “We’re a short elevator ride from the fitness center, events, games, educational programs and more. Imagine being only five floors away from everything you want to do. It’s really more than one human is able to take advantage of.”

To the Binfords though, the best part about WC is the people.

“Everyone, especially the residents, has a great attitude.” Betty says, “Each person truly treats you like you’re a guest in their home. It’s wonderful to be a part of it all.”

Thursday, May 5, 2016

WC People: Meet Jean, Penny & Chris

WC People is an ongoing series of profiles of residents, staff, volunteers and others associated with Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay. Our community brings together men and women from all walks of life with amazing stories to tell. We are proud to share them with you.

After Jean Corletto moved to Hampton Roads from England in 1964, she started a career in nursing. Jean first worked at Norfolk General Hospital, and then discovered life on the water as a nursing supervisor at The Hoy Health Care Center at Westminster-Canterbury.

Fast-forward to today, and she cannot believe the influence WC has had on her life. Her daughter Penny runs Westminster’s Country Store; her grandson, Chris, is the dining room supervisor; and, after 23 years working at WC, Jean now lives here.

Jean and her daughter, Penny, picking out scarves in the Country Store.
“Westminster has been a huge part of our lives,” says Penny. “Between the three of us, we’ve been in almost every department, from the kitchen to reception to security.”

Their family and Westminster-Canterbury are seemingly joined at the hip.

“I’ve really been involved with Westminster my entire life,” Chris says. “I remember spending snow days here when I was little and volunteering during high school. I worked here on breaks from college and even received the WC Scholarship each year.”

Penny began at WC in 1991 when Chris was just four months old.

“Between the career and volunteer opportunities, the living arrangements for my mom and the financial assistance for school, Westminster has touched so many aspects of our lives,” Penny says. “We’ve formed lifelong memories and friendships here.”

Jean and Chris enjoying a game of ping pong at WC
Jean continues to create those friendships as a resident. She’s head of the WC Pongers club, which has more than 30 members. She joined because she always loved tennis.

“Ping pong is something most people haven’t thought of playing but once they start, they really like it,” Jean says. “We can get very competitive, but we always fun.”

“I can’t beat her!” Penny says. “At ping pong or tennis!” But it’s sure nice to have mom so close by for a friendly game, whoever comes out on top.  

Penny, Jean and Chris enjoying time together.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

WC People: Meet Marigrace Thomas

WC People is an ongoing series of profiles of residents, staff, volunteers and others associated with Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay. Our community brings together men and women from all walks of life with amazing stories to tell. We are proud to share them with you.

Swimming with sharks.
Coming face-to-face with a sea lion.
Trekking through Antarctica.
Few people have had experiences like these but this is just a few of the adventures Marigrace Thomas has embarked upon.

Marigrace has been to all seven continents and throughout her travels, she has collected art and photos from around the world. One of her most memorable trips was for her 70th birthday, where she acquired a sculpture called “The Loving Family.”

“For my 70th birthday, I went on a safari with my three children to Zimbabwe,” she says. “It was a magical trip. That’s why the piece holds such special memories for me.”

“The Loving Family” sculpture reminds Marigrace of her trip to Zimbabwe with her three children.
Glancing around her apartment at Westminster-Canterbury, it’s easy to feel transported to different places around the globe.

“I don’t just buy art to buy it,” Marigrace said. “Every piece has a story.”

A seed necklace purchased from an Aboriginal woman in the Outback hangs in the living room, while framed photos from Croatia and New Zealand fill the shelves in her office.

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Marigrace holds a handmade seed necklace from a trip to Australia.

Marigrace holds photos from her travels around the world.
But her apartment is not only filled with photos and art. She shares her home with Hannah, her standard poodle, whom she rescued from a puppy mill.

In fact, a perfect place for Hannah was one of the many points Marigrace considered when she was searching for her new home. As a former elementary school teacher for 28 years and owner of a travel accommodations rental company for 36, Marigrace is a thorough decision-maker.

She investigated more than 50 communities from Tidewater, Virginia and the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. She visited twenty in person and stayed overnight at two.

Marigrace Thomas in her 10th floor apartment at Westminster-Canterbury.
At the conclusion of  her research, she made a life-changing choice for her next home: Westminster-Canterbury.  A little more than a year later, she could not be more pleased with her decision.

“The overwhelming decision maker was the attitude here – of the staff and the residents,” Marigrace says. “It’s so much better than everywhere else that I visited. It’s hardly comparable. Everybody smiles, the staff is polite, friendly and competent.”

WC is definitely where she wants to be.

“From housekeeping, to security, to the administration - the team is very respectful and very responsive to what we want,” she insists. “I have total freedom here. There’s nothing I’ve wanted to do that I haven’t been able to do. I’m completely independent and I don’t have any of the worries I had with a house - when I leave, everything is taken care of.”

Friday, March 25, 2016

WC People: Meet Melody Gregory

WC People is an ongoing series of profiles of residents, staff, volunteers and others associated with Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay. Our community brings together men and women from all walks of life with amazing stories to tell. We are proud to share them with you.

Melody Gregory, 19, dreams of becoming an occupational therapist.

As a sophomore at Virginia Tech, she’s involved in a number of activities to help her reach her goal. She’s not only a member of the pre-health fraternity and the pre-occupational therapy club, but, she’s part of the College Mentors for Kids program. As part of this program she was paired with Michael, a student from a local elementary school who she spends time with every Monday afternoon. The program is intended to help Michael and his peers understand the importance of education, show them the benefits to cultural understanding and teach them ways to give back to their community.

Melody with her “little buddy,” Michael.
The mentorship program is extra special to Melody because she knows she would never have become a Hokie without the help she received along the way.

Melody is part of the first generation in her family to attend college. Both Melody and her father work at Westminster-Canterbury, making her eligible to for the Employee Scholarship Fund through the Westminster-Canterbury Foundation. The fund has been in existence since the inception of the Foundation in 1992 and typically awards between $50,000 and $60,000 each year to those employees and their children that apply.

“I don’t think I would’ve been able to go away to school without this scholarship,” Melody says. “This has allowed me to explore a better future for myself, and I’m so grateful for the experience.”

In between her schoolwork, extracurricular activities and working as a member of the waitstaff at WC on school breaks, Melody has already been researching different options for grad school so she can become an occupational therapist.

“It’s crazy that I thought I wasn’t going away to school and now I’m researching graduate programs,” Melody added.

Melody’s father, Larry, who has worked in maintenance at Westminster-Canterbury for 14  years, couldn’t be more proud of his daughter.

Melody taking a selfie with her dad.
"The Westminster scholarship foundation is an excellent program that offers employees or their family members an opportunity to further their education.  I am extremely proud of Melody for striving to achieve her goals and the accomplishments she has made."

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

WC People: Meet Henry & Eleanor Watts

WC People is an ongoing series of profiles of residents, staff, volunteers and others associated with Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay. Our community brings together men and women from all walks of life with amazing stories to tell. We are proud to share them with you.
Henry and Eleanor Watts like to say they are living life backwards.
While many people attend college, play sports and travel before marrying and having children, Henry and Eleanor did the opposite.
Shortly after meeting, they knew they wanted to marry, and they quickly did so at age 18.
“Of course, I knew before she knew,” says Henry. “She was just so right for me.”

Henry and Eleanor holding their wedding photo from when they were both 18 years old.
They had three beautiful daughters, which then led to six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
When their three girls entered school, Henry and Eleanor both decided to further their education. He earned his MBA and Doctorate in Business, Marketing and Behavioral Science from George Washington University, and she attended George Mason University, majoring in sociology.
Both say that while they waited until after they had children to return to school, they are lifelong learners. At Westminster-Canterbury, they are happy to be surrounded by others just like them.
“The greatest joy we’ve found at Westminster is the tremendous number of interesting people,” Eleanor says. “Everyone seems to have had such an unusual life and experiences. We can learn from everyone around us.”
Henry and Eleanor are among those interesting people at WC. Henry began working for Southern Railway in Alabama and later transferred to its headquarters in Washington, D.C. When Norfolk Southern formed in 1982, Henry and Eleanor relocated to Hampton Roads where Henry rose through the company, retiring as vice chairman in 1997.
While raising their children, Eleanor volunteered for 17 years as a docent at the Chrysler Museum of Art.
Their desire to continue learning has never wavered.
When Henry retired, the Watts started traveling all over the world, seizing every chance to learn about history, geopolitics and culture. They’ve visited the British Isles, Italy, London, Nepal and more.
They’ve also toured the United States, including taking their six grandchildren to Alaska, and are now visiting presidential homes and libraries.
Not only do Henry and Eleanor enjoy exercising their minds, they continue to exercise their bodies by trying new physical activities. Both learned to ski at age 65.

A snapshot of Henry and Eleanor's recent travels.
At Westminster-Canterbury, they are both part of the Great Decisions program, run by the Foreign Policy Administration.  It provides background information and policy options for the eight most critical issues facing America each year and serves as the focal text for discussion groups across the country.
“Westminster-Canterbury really is a reflection of the Virginia Beach community,” Henry says. “It’s easy to become a participant and community member because the residents come from all walks of life. Whether it’s lawn croquet, ping-pong, Book Magic book reviews or the Great Decisions program, everyone can be involved. And you can’t beat the view of the Bay!”
On March 31, Henry will lead one of the Great Decisions sessions titled, “The Future of Kurdistan”. If you’re interested in attending this dynamic discussion or another session, please RSVP via the WC website:

“It’s a great learning experience and service to our community,” says Henry. “The people who live here have such outstanding backgrounds that it’s not difficult to find leaders for the sessions. It takes quite a bit of research but the person who presents truly becomes an expert in the subject.”

Monday, January 4, 2016

WC People: Meet Emily Filer

WC People is an ongoing series of profiles featuring people connected to Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay. Our community brings together people from all walks of life with amazing stories to tell. We are proud to share them with you.

1978 was a pivotal, and tragic, year for Emily Filer.

Her daughter, Lee, died at age 16 from Hodgkin’s disease, a cancer of the lymphatic system.

That moment ignited a passion in Emily that would lead her to a life of service to her community.

Before Lee died in the summer of that year, she and nine of her friends began Lee’s Friends, an organization dedicated to offering emotional and practical support to cancer patients and their families facing the fear and uncertainty of diagnosis and treatment.

Emily with some of the most important things in her life: her children (Lee and Monty), her three grandchildren and her toy poodle, Mango.

Thanks to Emily’s drive and determination, Lee’s Friends grew and became recognized throughout Virginia and the nation as an outstanding non-profit. In 1982, Emily traveled to the White House, as Lee’s Friends was one of 16 agencies chosen from 2,300 nominations to receive the President’s Volunteer Action Award.

“Lee inspired the program, and it’s our job to carry it out,” Emily says. “It’s a living memorial to her. We work with all ages and stages of cancer and have been able to help thousands of people. We started with no volunteers and no money, but thanks to the cause and the dedication of our friends, we have won national recognition.”

After 23 years of service, Emily retired from Lee’s Friends in 2001; but her dedication to the region has never stopped.

She was a member of the board of trustees at Virginia Wesleyan College for 20 years; member, past president and now honorary member of the Junior League of Norfolk-Virginia Beach; vice chair of the Mayor’s Commission on Aging in Virginia Beach, just to name a few of her accomplishments.

In 2010, she received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters (L.H.D.) from Providence Bible College and Theological Seminary for her volunteerism.

Her dedication to others has continued at Westminster-Canterbury. During her eight years on the WC Board of Trustees, she learned a great deal about the community and knew she wanted to make it her home.

Emily holding her most recent award, the Hampton Roads VOLUNTEER Achievement Award for Outstanding Community Service, which she received in 2014.

“When I retired from Lee’s Friends, I went back to school and became an associate chaplain for Sentara, working in five different hospitals,” Emily says. “I loved it, and I continue my work here as a pastoral caregiver and chaplain in the Hoy Center.”

Emily has a shadow at Westminster-Canterbury - her toy poodle Mango! When you see Emily, Mango is usually not far behind.  “She’s eight pounds and a complete character,” Emily boasts. “Everyone, from staff to residents, has fallen in love with her.”

Emily and Mango out for a walk at Westminster-Canterbury.

Emily can’t imagine calling anywhere other than Westminster-Canterbury home.

“When I was part of the Virginia Beach Commission on Aging, I saw every potential community in Virginia Beach and Norfolk, and I actually lived in both cities for long periods,” Emily says. “But, once I visited Westminster, there was no question. I’m able to do everything I love and explore new interests too. I love playing Sjoelbak – I’d never heard of it and now it’s one of my favorite pastimes!”