Live with Purpose - August 25, 2022
By Amanda Ranowsky
This month, Goodwin Living™ celebrated a very special milestone: our 55th anniversary.
We mark the anniversary of Goodwin Living by the opening of our first Life Plan Community, Goodwin House Alexandria (GHA), on August 25, 1967. Since that day, we have been supporting, honoring and uplifting older adults and the people who care for them in ever-expanding places and ways.
Several current residents of our Life Plan Communities have special connections to the earliest days of Goodwin Living. Margaret and Dan Sullivan were close friends of the first Executive Director of Goodwin House Alexandria, Gardner Van Scoyoc. Hilary Shostal considered early GHA resident Nancy Copley one of her dearest friends and a second mother. As an Episcopalian and longtime resident of Alexandria, Va., Meredith Wade considers Goodwin Living part of the fabric of her life.
Through these stories, we see the legacy of service and excellence that defines Goodwin Living today.
Goodwin Living has its roots in the Episcopal Church, which was responsible for the development of GHA. The name we carry comes from the Right Reverend Frederick Deane Goodwin, Bishop of the Diocese of Virginia from 1944 to 1960.
In 1962, Benjamin M. Smith generously donated a parcel of land to the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Virginia, under the condition that a “life care” home be constructed on the land. Mr. Smith was a well-respected developer in Northern Virginia and also donated land at the same time for The View Alexandria by Goodwin Living, previously Hermitage Northern Virginia.
Gardner Van Scoyoc, an Episcopal priest, was the director of Christian Social Relations for the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. In 1966, he resigned this position so that he could contribute to the development of Goodwin House Alexandria. The project interested him because GHA had something quite unique to offer. When it opened, GHA was only the third Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC), now known as Life Plan Community, in the United States. With this type of retirement community, a resident would be guaranteed the healthcare services they might need as they age.
“First, Goodwin House is not a nursing home,” Rev. Van Scoyoc wrote in the report of the 173rd Annual Council of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Virginia (1968). “It is community for lifetime residence for persons 65 years and older who are ambulatory, in reasonably good health and able to care for their own needs at the outset. On the other hand, Goodwin House does not ask people to leave when they become sick or infirm. Medical and nursing care are provided when needed as part of the basic arrangements.”
“I think that what we’re celebrating is 55 years of not only a particular place but a way of approaching the combination of independent living and caregiving,” said Margaret Sullivan. When it came time for her to plan for her later years, Margaret knew that a Life Plan Community would be the right fit for her and her husband.
Margaret’s husband Dan was childhood friends with Rev. Gardner Van Scoyoc. “The cats in the alley,” as the two called themselves, bonded at Episcopalian summer camps. In later years, Gardner was an usher at Margaret and Dan’s wedding, and they were godparents to one another’s children.
Margaret’s first impression of Goodwin Living came one morning in 1966, when Gardner called them with a proposition. Construction would soon begin on the site for GHA, and he wanted to preserve some of the lovely plant life that was about to be torn down.
“Gardner said the hill on the site was covered with mountain laurel in the undergrowth,” said Margaret. “He asked if Dan wanted to meet him at the site the next day to dig it up and transplant it. We took 14 of those plants to our house in McLean and planted them in the woods. It was our first introduction to Goodwin House Alexandria, before it even opened.”
Gardner served as Executive Director of GHA from 1967 to 1972. Sadly, he passed away earlier this month on August 9, 2022. “I believe the mountain laurel we planted in McLean still have to be there,” said Margaret. “In that way, his spirit lives.”
Around 1990, Margaret’s mother Louise Winfield moved to GHA, where she lived the last six years of her life. “It was as much as anything else because of the care that my mother got, that we decided to move to a Goodwin House campus ourselves,” said Margaret. “There was also the advice that Gardner gave me when we were beginning to think about this: that we should only consider a CCRC that was not for profit.”
Margaret and Dan heeded this advice. In 2015, they became residents of Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads, choosing to branch out to the other Goodwin Living Life Plan Community. “We chose GHBC, assured of ongoing support and care and of an interesting community,” said Margaret.
Mothers are a common thread between Margaret Sullivan’s and Hilary Shostal’s decisions to move to a Goodwin Living Life Plan Community. Hilary Shostal’s introduction to Goodwin Living came from a woman who was like a second mother to her.
Nancy Copley moved to Goodwin House Alexandria within a few years of its opening, living in an efficiency apartment on the fifth floor of what is now the Original Building. She and Hilary were already good friends by this time—Nancy was even godmother to Hilary’s son.
In her 30 years as a resident at GHA, Nancy was an active and beloved member of the community. “She loved that there were so many ways that she could give,” said Hilary, “and being a teacher, that she could help so many people.”
One of Nancy’s gifts was bringing people in for activities. She invited Hilary’s husband, an officer in the U.S. Foreign Service, to give talks at GHA. She also invited Hilary, who had an extensive background in theater, to start a play reading group for the residents. “She was a person who could draw people in and make them do things, happily!” said Hilary.
On their many visits, Nancy would encourage Hilary and her husband to consider GHA as their future home. “She loved this place,” said Hilary. “She was always saying, you’ve got to move in here one day!”
Nancy’s encouragement was seconded by friends from their church. Like many GHA residents, Hilary and her husband belong to Emmanuel Church on the Hill. “Don’t leave it too late!” was the advice they would often hear from others in their church community.
That advice sunk in one winter during a particularly heavy snow. Hilary’s husband fell in the snow while shoveling their long driveway. While not seriously hurt, the experience made them consider the struggle of maintaining a home on their own as they aged. “We thought, maybe we should move sooner rather than later!” Hilary said.
GHA quickly became their top choice for places to move. “We did check out other places,” said Hilary. “I think the fact that we knew GHA so well and that it was so close our church, so close to our house, close to our doctors, that we knew the area—that was attractive.” Hilary and her husband moved into GHA in 2011, approximately 15 years after her second mother Nancy’s time there.
They are pleased by their choice. “One time, my husband was very sick, and the care he got immediately was excellent,” Hilary shared. “That would have been awful if we’d been in the house on our own. The fact that you’ve got that support network is very good.”
Having a support network available to them turned out to be very important for Meredith Wade and her husband, who moved to GHA right at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meredith and her husband made the transition to GHA slightly earlier than they expected. Her husband had had the idea that he wanted to wait to move until he turned 80, but they found themselves reconsidering at an earlier age.
“We lived in a fairly large house,” said Meredith, “and it was becoming more and more of a wearisome and worrisome part of our life. It was an older home, so even when our kids came over it wasn’t like it comfortably accommodated a large group. It was time for better housing for our stage of life.”
The stars aligned when they got an unexpected offer on their home from a young family.
Meredith and her husband had long known about GHA, having lived just two miles away from the campus for more than 50 years. “The Original Building had just opened when we moved here,” said Meredith. “I didn’t know anybody here for a number of years, but it’s just been part of the fabric of our life.”
Meredith’s mother, Florence Jebe, moved to GHA in 2003. “She was a social butterfly,” said Meredith. “She brought her hobbies with her.”
An artist and pianist, Florence found much to engage her at GHA. “She was so impressed because at that time the director of the art studio had a Master’s in Fine Arts degree,” said Meredith. Florence loved taking art classes and using the art studio.
She also found a way to combine her love of piano and love of socializing. “She had little ‘salons’ in her apartment,” Meredith said. “She would invite usually three or four people over to her apartment, and she’d play from memory five or six tunes and then serve tea.”
When it came time for Meredith and her husband to move, they knew from Florence’s experience that they would enjoy their new home. “It’s a lively and engaged place,” said Meredith. “My mother was a big fan.”
Meredith and her husband moved into GHA in late March 2020. They spent their first two weeks on campus in quarantine, using the time to unpack and get settled. Even with the restrictions, they appreciated moving when they did.
“Because our outside worlds shut down, we got engaged in things here,” said Meredith. “We are doers; we are active. That was another thing – we knew Goodwin was an active community. That there’s a large predominance of people, even people who may use assistive devices to get around, who are still very active. That appealed to us a lot.”
“We’ve just built on that over the last two and a half years,” she continued. “We felt we were safer here during the pandemic than we would have been if we’d been at home.”
The development of Goodwin Living did not end with Goodwin House Alexandria. GHA is the foundation from which other campuses and services have sprung. Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads opened in 1987. The Goodwin Living Foundation formed in 1989, and we began a Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) program in 1998. We added service lines for hospice and private-duty home care in 1998, an age-at-home program in 2013, home health in 2020, and rehabilitation in 2021. And in August 2022, we acquired our third campus: The View Alexandria by Goodwin Living (formerly Hermitage Northern Virginia). Today, we serve more than 2,500 older adults with our senior living and healthcare services, and many of them live beyond our campuses.
Margaret, Hilary and Meredith are among those we serve today because of the parents and dear friends who came before them. For them, Goodwin Living is a legacy passed down through the generations. As we continue to expand the places and ways we serve older adults, we provide more opportunities for the next generation to make Goodwin Living their partner in aging.
As Marketing & Communications Specialist, Amanda Ranowsky partners with colleagues throughout Goodwin Living to tell our stories and raise brand awareness. From printed collateral to digital marketing, Amanda covers many bases. Before joining GHI, Amanda worked for a small, family-owned business where she gained experience in content marketing. Amanda’s creative expression extends beyond the office. She is an active member of community theater and chorus groups.