OUR FLAG: Celebrations at Pickersgill Retirement Community

For many Baltimoreans the American Flag holds a special meaning because of the historic connections between our city and The Stars and Stripes: connections such as the War of 1812, Fort McHenry, the “Star-Spangled Banner” and of course because of the famous local seamstress who made the great garrison flag that inspired the national anthem, Mary Pickersgill. Since Mary Pickersgill is not just the namesake of Pickersgill Retirement Community but also a founding board member of our organization, we’ve come to think of the American Flag as our icon, and because of this, here at Pickersgill, we take every opportunity to celebrate our flag and its symbolism.


Flag Day, June 14, commemorates the adoption of the Flag of the United States (aka the American Flag) which happened on June 14, 1777, by resolution of the 2nd Continental Congress during the Revolutionary War.  June 14 is an important day at Pickersgill Retirement Community.  On Flag Day we invite family, friends, neighbors and elected officials to honor our resident veterans and to celebrate with us. This year we honored over 40 men and women living at Pickersgill who served in the United States Armed Forces. At our celebration residents and guests heard remarks from Councilman David Marks, recited the Pledge of Allegiance, sang the “Star-Spangled Banner,” enjoyed refreshments and were treated to patriotic songs and classic American harmonies performed by both the Pickersgill Singers and Pianist/Vocalist Dick Smith.

Independence Day, July 4   As celebrations took place in cities and towns across the country to mark our nation’s birthday, residents were doing the same at Pickersgill.  On a day known for picnics and barbeques Pickersgill residents and their guests dined cookout style.  The traditional menu for the fourth: hamburgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob, baked beans, potato salad, cole slaw, watermelon, apple pie and ice cream was served as a buffet in the Independent Living Dining Room. A lively concert in the Willard Auditorium performed by Two for the Show featured numerous patriotic standards.  One resident remarked that it was her “favorite concert of the year.”  Some residents ventured out to attend fireworks displays with their families at local venues while residents in who preferred to stay in the air conditioning enjoyed watching the Inner Harbor Fireworks live on widescreen TVs.

Flags on display!  Pickersgill Retirement Community is lucky to have a friend named Bob Knowles.  Twelve years ago, to help Pickersgill Retirement Community, Mr. Knowles set up a special display– flags from his private collection. Knowles’ flag display quickly became a much-loved annual event.  Each year, Mr. Knowles goes through his flag collection – which consists of more than 600 flags – and carefully chooses pieces to display at Pickersgill.

The display, which features flags from all over the world, is so massive that it covers the entire auditorium at Pickersgill as well as the main hallway, creating a walkthrough exhibit for residents and their families.  “I’m very thankful to Pickersgill and glad that my flag display has become a tradition,” Knowles said.

Knowles, an avid flag collector since the age of 14, became interested in Pickersgill when looking for a retirement community for his mother in the summer of 2004. After looking at several different communities; Knowles found that Pickersgill was “the nicest one.” During a meeting between Knowles, his mother, and Pickersgill staff, Knowles mentioned that if his mother decided to live at Pickersgill, he would do a flag show for the community. Continue reading

Royal Residents!

In anticipation of Great Britain’s royal wedding, the ladies residing in Pickersgill’s Decker Center were treated to a special afternoon – High Tea and a Fashion Show – hosted by the 4th floor nursing staff.  The event was the inspiration of veteran nurse Kelly Drayton, who planned the entire party. Kelly was supported by not only her caring team of co-workers, the spring class of Red Cross students but also our intrepid volunteer corps .  Residents gathered in the sunny Decker dining room dressed in their finest frocks and fanciest facinators. Everyone enjoyed a pleasant afternoon featuring cakes and tea, music, gracious socialization, a distinctive array of fashion – and a lot of smiles.

Feeling Good – Pickersgill Celebrates it’s Volunteers


Exercise, we know, is beneficial to your health and endorphins released through physical activity make you feel good.

Volunteering also makes you feel good. But do you know that are health benefits that result from volunteering ? Its true. Studies have shown that people who donate their time feel more socially connected, thus warding off loneliness and depression which is a plus for your mental health.  And a growing body of evidence suggests that people who give their time to others might also be rewarded with better physical health—including lower blood pressure and a longer lifespan.

For these reasons Pickersgill combined two universally feel-good activities – exercise and service to others – into a theme for the annual volunteer luncheon.

Celebrating Service

Every spring, in the middle of National Volunteer Week, Pickersgill spotlights volunteers at a luncheon to give thanks for their service and to recognize the tremendous impact their effort has on our community. The spirit of giving to others is central to the ideals that established Pickersgill Retirement Community over two hundred years ago, the honored volunteers carry that spirit forward and inspire others to serve.

Zumba – Exercise in Disguise!

Luncheon keynote speaker, Deb Shavitz, is well known around Pickersgill, her high energy Zumba workouts are standing-room-only in the 3rd floor meeting room every Tuesday.  Ms. Shavitz, 64, is a retired Director of Sales for Quest Diagnostics. During her recovery from a life-altering car accident she found herself in a position to care for her elderly mother in the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease.  Deb and her mother found common ground through dance.  For Deb the physical activity aided her healing and for her mother the music and movement helped her recall happy memories. Through this journey Deb found her life’s true calling – Zumba for the senior community.

“Everyone at Pickersgill knows when Zumba class is in session,” says Pickersgill Admissions Director Janice Harris. Deb’s encouraging, effervescent voice and tempo-timed clapping combine with the rhythm of classic oldies, big band sounds and the beat of top 40, all of which can be  heard – and felt – through out the building.  “When that infectious energy pumps out of the workout room its a happy hour not only for residents but also for care givers and staff as well,” said says volunteer coordinator Trish Selko. “Zumba class a highlight for everyone at Pickersgill.”

The 17th Annual Volunteer Luncheon

The volunteer luncheon is an event anticipated by residents, board members and community volunteers for weeks in advance. Honorees arrive through the main lobby where they are serenaded by the sweet sounds of the Pickersgill Singers who set the tone for a delightful afternoon. Each guest is given a flower pin wear on their lapel. The pins, beautiful creations by needlepoint artist Mae Strom, are made expressly for the occasion.

At this years event, after guests were seated, Board President, Faye Tulley, gave sincere thanks to the volunteers and quoted British Olympian, Steven Beckley,  “There are three types of people in this world: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened – at Pickersgill our volunteers make things happen.”  The Reverend Ernest Smart gave a witty, heartfelt blessing, and everyone enjoyed a delicious lunch prepared by Chef Richard Blake and the Pickersgill kitchen team. Ms. Tully and Ms. Selko presented door prizes and thanked each volunteer for their service and support.

As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands — one for helping yourself and the other for helping others. –Audrey Hepburn





Game Night at Pickersgill – A Winning Strategy

There’s nothing quite as universally fun as a good game.


Residents at Pickersgill Retirement Community and a group of University or Maryland Pharmacy students delight in getting together for game night.  For quite some time it’s been widely believed that children get a developmental boost by engaging in play. Today, more and more, experts are telling us – no matter your age – social, cognitive and even physical perks are available to us all by simply playing a game.

Of course play, in general, is a source of enjoyment, but specifically playing board games or card games offer unique life improving benefits which can enhance a person’s health and well-being.  And for best results, a dose of game playing should not just be taken once in a while but should be regularly prescribed.  At Pickersgill residents partake in established bridge parties, challenge themselves by flexing their strategic muscles on a chess or checkers board and look forward to evenings spent playing Monopoly, Rummikub, Uno, Scrabble and Jenga with our dynamic student volunteers.

Here are a few great excuses to play a little-


Games are good for motor skills

Every time you roll the dice, shuffle the cards or move game-piece around the board, you are strengthening your hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills – which can help you maintain coordination to complete simple tasks like buttoning a shirt, writing a check or holding a tea cup.

Game playing increases brain function

Games are wonderful exercise for your brain. Because playing stimulates areas in your brain that are responsible for complex thought and memory formation, a  game can assist you in practicing essential cognitive skills, such as recall, problem solving and decision making.

Games can boost happiness

Laughter is a positive side effect of game playing. We all know that a good dose of glee triggers the release of dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins your body’s natural feel-good chemicals which have the power to make you happy and improve your conscious and unconscious brain functions. No wonder a game of Battleship can make you feel cheerful and less stressed!

Game playing might lower blood pressure

Along with reducing stress it is believed that the release of endorphins makes your muscles relax which leads to improved blood circulation – perhaps resulting in lowering your blood pressure.

Games promote socialization

The foundation of playing board games and most card games is collaboration. Games are the perfect way for you to spend time in nice company and strengthen bonds with other human-beings. Create a memorable occasion by inviting a group friends to play a game of Hearts.



Rehab Reboot

Our dynamic therapy team, including beloved canine Walt, welcomed residents and board members at the unveiling of Pickersgill’s brand new Rehab Center.  Residents were invited to move through the space to learn about and experience all aspects of the services offered in the new facility which include speech, occupational and physical therapy.  These services are not new to Pickersgill but the freshly designed, larger space with updated amenities offers enhanced resources to the users.  The grand opening provided a great excuse to throw a party! Beer, wine, iced tea plus cheese, crackers and fruit were served to guests as the celebration kicked into high gear.