As she sat in her tidy living room Wednesday morning, Isabel Van Warner said she was surprised at how content and happy she is to be living at Water’s Edge of Bradenton.
She has friends she eats with during meal time and loves to play bingo. By her feet lay a green knitted creation she’s been working on.
“I have refused my children and said, ‘No way will I ever live in Florida,’ ” she said. “And here I am. ... I’m satisfied.”
Van Warner, 91, moved into the retirement community at 2015 32nd Ave. W., Bradenton., a little more than a month ago and is one of 12 residents currently living in the community’s new three-story building.
Water’s Edge of Bradenton officials on Wednesday celebrated the grand opening of the new 77,589-square-foot Phase II building. The event featured speakers from the retirement community and leaders from National Church Residences of Columbus, Ohio, which took ownership of Water’s Edge of Bradenton in 2014. The $15.9 million second phase of the retirement community broke ground in December 2014 and offers 80 units of independent and assisted living.
“We have 60 of those here in the building, and 20 are for memory care on the third floor,” said Suzanne Fonow, the marketing coordinator at Water’s Edge of Bradenton.
Through trials and tribulations, you stood through a storm. When some say you couldn’t do it, you done. When the vision came, you grabbed that vision and you walked through. And when finance came and the door opened, you walked through that door.
Manatee County Commissioner Charles Smith
Water’s Edge of Bradenton residents, staff and officials listened as Jeff Wolf, senior vice president of philanthropy and mission outreach for National Church Residences, kicked off the event as the master of ceremonies. Speakers included Water’s Edge of Bradenton executive director Penny Smith, Florida Christian Homes chairman Don Westerhoff, and Al Rupiper, the chairman of the National Church Residences Board of Directors.
“We’re driven by a deep sense that our work should serve God and always produce good for others,” Wolf said.
Mark Ricketts, the CEO and president of National Church Residences, said he was amazed by the beauty of the new campus.
“I’m honored to come and have this happen just before Christmas,” he said. “It just seems perfect that this would occur this way.”
Manatee County Commissioner Charles Smith applauded those behind the multimillion dollar project.
“This is truly God’s message that you have done, that this national organization continues to do what God has bestowed upon you to do. Through love and grace, you’re here. Through trials and tribulations, you stood through a storm,” he said to the crowd.
“When some say you couldn’t do it, you done it. When the vision came, you grabbed that vision and you walked through. And when finance came and the door opened, you walked through that door.”