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Fountaingate Gardens Life Plan Community

Pictured from left, Audrey Goodfriend, Tamara Baker, and Phyllis Stark with blankets to be donated to hospitals. Photo courtesy of Fountaingate Gardens

Audrey Goodfriend and Phyllis Stark, avid crocheters and knitters who are members of the new 62+ Independent Living Community Fountaingate Gardens in Commack, were so pleased to learn of We Care Blankets, a charity that aligns with their talents and interests. Recently, they welcomed Tamara Baker, founder of the charity, to their community to donate more than a dozen blankets for children and young adults who are going through chemotherapy.

Blankets made by Fountaingate residents will be donated to hospitals. Photo courtesy of Fountaingate Gardens

According to Baker, she started We Care Blankets more than two decades ago because she saw how cold children in treatment could be while in the hospital. “We have a network of more than 25 hospitals, and we supply them with 15,000 blankets each year, keeping children warm and comforted while they battle cancer. I’m so thankful for volunteers like Phyllis and Audrey,” Baker said.

“I think this is an amazing cause for those who are going through such difficult and challenging times,” Stark said while packing the blankets for pick up. “It creates a positive impact not only on the recipients, but also on the broader community, inspiring others to get involved!”

Goodfriend, who crochets while attending the weekly Needler’s Group at Fountaingate Gardens as well as while watching her Mets play, said, “Combining passions and interest with a purposeful act is a win-win situation; we enjoy our leisure time, but also make a positive difference in the lives of others.”

Baker noted that a network of volunteers meets regularly to wrap the blankets she has gathered from her volunteers, usually wrapping between one and two thousand blankets for delivery to the many hospitals in the We Care Blankets network. 

For information or to volunteer for We Care Blankets, contact 516-797-2250 or visit their website at www.wecareblankets.org/volunteer.

John P. Mastacciuola. Photo courtesy of Gurwin

Gurwin Healthcare System has announced the appointment of John P. Mastacciuola as Executive Director of Fountaingate Gardens, Gurwin’s new 129-apartment luxury Independent Living Community located on its 36-acre Commack campus. Mr. Mastacciuola will manage all day-to-day operations for the unique senior living Life Plan Community, which is designed for active adults age 62 and older.

Prior to joining Fountaingate Gardens, Mr. Mastacciuola served as Regional Director of Operations at Unidine, part of the Compass Group, where he oversaw dining and hospitality services for Gurwin’s nursing and rehabilitation center, assisted living and independent living communities.  A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Mr. Mastacciuola brings to his new role more than 25 years’ experience in the hospitality sector. 

“John’s extensive background in hospitality and dedication to providing exceptional member-centered services perfectly aligns with Fountaingate Gardens’ mission to provide a rich, vibrant lifestyle for active older adults. We look forward to seeing our community flourish with John at the helm,” said Stuart B. Almer, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Gurwin Healthcare System,

“I am very pleased to be part of such an innovative community, providing Long Islanders with an opportunity for active retirement living,” said Mr. Mastacciuola. “I look forward to leading our team in providing distinctive service that will enrich our Fountaingate Gardens community members’ lives and create memorable moments.”  

Fountaingate Gardens is the final piece of Gurwin’s senior living offering. Within the community are two residential buildings — The Parkview and The Terraces — that consist of one- and two-bedroom elegant apartment homes. Both four-story buildings are connected to the community’s 20,000+ square-foot Clubhouse which features an array of wellness-focused amenities, a heated saltwater pool, state-of-the-art fitness center, salon, library, a variety of dining venue options and more. 

Above, The Parkview at Fountaingate Gardens. Photo from Gurwin
Certificate of occupancy for The Parkview marks milestone

Gurwin Healthcare System has officially opened The Parkview, the largest residential building of the new Fountaingate Gardens independent living complex on Gurwin’s 36-acre Commack campus, with the delivery of the certificate of occupancy in August. 

Fountaingate Gardens. Photo from Gurwin

The $115 million,129-luxury apartment Life Plan Community is a unique concept in senior living, the newest on Long Island, and the final piece in Gurwin’s senior living offering. More than 50 community members have already moved into their one- and two-bedroom apartment homes in the community. The first building, The Terraces, opened for occupancy in May. 

“With The Parkview now officially open, our vision of a Life Plan Community on the Gurwin campus has finally come to fruition,” said Stuart B. Almer, President and Chief Executive Officer of Gurwin Healthcare System. “We are now able to offer Long Islanders a way to truly age in place with peace of mind, knowing that priority access to assisted living, short-term rehabilitation, long-term care, memory care, dialysis and day care is available on the same familiar campus, should higher levels of care ever be needed.”

Comprised of 102 apartment homes, The Parkview at Fountaingate Gardens features 11 floor plan options ranging from 830 sq. ft. to 1,350 sq. ft.  The Terraces consists of 27 apartments, with six floor plan options ranging from 1000 sq. ft. to 1,570 sq. ft.  Both four-story buildings are connected to the community’s 20,000+ square-foot Clubhouse which features an array of wellness-focused amenities, a heated saltwater pool, state-of-the-art fitness center, salon, library, a variety of dining venue options and more.  

“We are thrilled to be officially, fully open to welcome new members,” said Ryan Grady, Executive Director of Fountaingate Gardens. “Our team has worked hard to create a beautiful, vibrant community for active adults; it’s wonderful to see our members enjoying their beautiful new homes, forging new relationships and embracing new opportunities. Already there is a positive energy and vibe in our community — we call it the “Fountaingate Feeling!” We are pleased to be able to offer this unique retirement lifestyle to help Long Islanders live the best of their lives.”

For more information, call 631-715-2693 or visit www.FountaingateLI.org.

‘A good photograph is one that communicates a fact, touches the heart, leaves the viewer a changed person for having seen it.’ – Irving Penn

By Heidi Sutton

Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Commack revealed the winners of its 29th annual Photo Contest at an award ceremony and reception at the recently opened Fountaingate Garden’s Life Plan Community’s Clubhouse on Sept. 20. The highlight of the evening was a traditional slide show of the winning selections from this and previous years. Winners were also given the option of sending in a video describing their photo and process.

Sponsored by the Tiffen Company, this year’s competition drew over 700 entries from amateur photographers across the country. Of those submissions, 32 photos were chosen to be enlarged, framed and hung on permanent display in the nursing home. The beautiful images will be on exhibit in the Helen and Nat Tiffen Gallery for a year and will then move up to the resident units.

The event is the brainchild of Dennine Cook, Chief Corporate Communications Officer oat Gurwin who started the contest in 1993 as a way of “making [Gurwin’s] blank walls more homelike.” 

“That first year we had 60 entries in color and black and white. All the enlargements were made from negatives and slides and mounted on foamboard so we’ve really come a long way,” said Cook. “Now our contest reguarly receives more than 700 entries.”

Cook spoke of how the pandemic has taken an emotional toll on the residents at Gurwin. “For a long time they could not have visitors and often the only bright spot was seeing that familar photos outside their doorway … Your photos added some light and were appreciated more than you know.”

“This contest, although competitive and a great achievement for you as a photographer, is really about the people who get to see your work,” said Cook. 

“These are challenging times for all of us … and your photos help to beautify all of our facilites,” added Stuart B. Almer, President and CEO of the Gurwin Healthcare System, before the winners were announced

This year’s judges, Christopher Appoldt (Christopher Appoldt Photography), Brandon Klein of The Tiffen Company and Tony Lopez (Tony Lopez Photography), were given the difficult task of choosing a grand prize winner along with honorable mentions for 12 categories as well as Best in Show, which this year was awarded to Deidre Elzer-Lento of Northport for “Rainbow Over LIPA Stacks,” and Best In Show Runner-Up.  

Elzer-Lento spoke about the day she took the photo. “A storm was blowing through and I watched at my window until sure enough, a full double rainbow appeared.” She raced out to her backyard and took the picture over and over until she got that perfect shot. 

This year’s Best In Show Runner-Up was awarded to Aaron Needle of Merrick for his sports photo titled “Safe!” Needle spoke of how he took the action photo during one of his son’s baseball game. 

“All the selections, whether they be Honorable Mentions, Grand Prizes or Resident/Staff selections will be judged, discussed and enjoyed by so many appreciative eyes for years to come and to me that’s the real honor — that your photos will hang for decades here in our resident’s home,” said Cook.

The annual contest does not accept digital entries, only 8 × 10 prints, which are not returned. However, Cook was quick to assure the audience that all of the submissions will be put to good use. “[The residents] use them in art therapy as painting and drawing inspiration and in crafting classes. It’s become a great resource here at Gurwin and everyone is very grateful.”

Best in Show

‘Rainbow Over LIPA Stacks’ by Deidre Elzer-Lento

Best in Show Runner-Up

‘Safe!’ by Aaron Needle

Action/Sports Category

Grand Prize

‘Fly with Me’by Michelle Nickerson

Honorable Mention 

‘Mirror Image’ by Frank DiBenedetto

Altered/Enhanced Category

Grand Prize 

‘Northport Dock’ by Ellen Gallagher

Honorable Mention 

‘Mythical Forest’ by Ellen Gallagher

Children’s Category

Grand Prize 

‘Watermelon Joy’ by Avihai Vaday

Honorable Mention 

‘Julia’ by Mike DiRenzo

Landscapes Category

Grand Prize

‘Among the Aspen’ by Meryl Lorenzo

Honorable Mention 

‘Mabry Mill’ by Carol Goldstein

Long Island/ New York Category

Grand Prize 

‘After the Storm’ by Debbie Monastero

Honorable Mention 

‘Gamecock Cottage’ by Robert Oliva

Nature Category

Grand Prize 

‘Mother Nature’ by Alan Sloyer

Honorable Mention 

‘Autumn’s Litter’ by Tom Caruso

People Category

Grand Prize 

‘Road Work’ by Vic Carlin

Honorable Mention 

‘Moroccan Merchant’ by Herb Knopp

Pets Category

Grand Prize 

‘Snow Day’ by Katie Scherer

Honorable Mention  

‘Baxter Wants a Treat’ 

by Dianne Boothe

Still Life Category

Grand Prize 

‘Farrier’s Tools of the Trade’ by Dianne Boothe

Honorable Mention 

‘Wine & Cheese’ by Bobbie Turner

Travel Category

Grand Prize 

‘Grazing on the Meadow’ by Carol Milazzo DiRenzo

Honorable Mention 

‘Sunset Surf’ by Erin Bonitz

Wildlife Category

Grand Prize 

‘Eastern Phoebe’ by Frank Silverman

Honorable Mention 

‘American Beauty’ by Debbie Monastero

Student Category

Grand Prize 

‘The Vessel’ by Emma Azevedo

Honorable Mention 

‘A Walk in the Park’ by Noah Gorlewski

Resident/Staff Selections

‘Blue Eyes’ by Lora Ann Batorsky

‘Summer Wave’ by Michael Danielson

‘Baby Isla’ by Nicole Eberle

‘Who’s There?’ by Fred Fenster

‘Port Jeff Ferry’ by Les Goldschmidt

‘Just Chillin’ by Alan Sloyer

Entries for next year’s photo contest will be accepted between Feb. 15 and April 15, 2023. For more information, visit www.gurwin.org/about/photo-contest/.


Stuart B. Almer, President and CEO of the Gurwin Healthcare System (left), leads the ceremonial “turning of dirt” at Fountaingate Gardens’ Groundbreaking Ceremony.

Long Island legislators and local community members joined board members, future residents and staff of Fountaingate Gardens independent living community at a ceremonial groundbreaking event for Long Island’s newest Life Plan Community on the campus of the renowned Gurwin Healthcare System in Commack recently.  The 129-unit, resort-style apartment complex, complete with indoor saltwater pool, state-of-the-art fitness gym and cultural arts center, is designed to provide a vibrant and socially active community environment for adults age 62 years and better.  The promise of financial security and a unique safety net of care option for on-campus healthcare services is what sets the innovative community apart from other senior living choices on Long Island.

Rendering of Fountaingate Gardens Life Plan Community located on the Gurwin Healthcare System campus in Commack.

In addition to the ceremonial turning of dirt, Fountaingate Gardens founding depositors compiled a time capsule of memories, capturing the legacy they have been part of during the inception of the community, including photos of ZOOM meet ups and other friendship-building events. In recognition of the global health challenges faced over the past year, press clippings, a face mask and a spent vaccine vial were also included in the capsule as a means of closing the door on 2020 and looking ahead toward a bright and hopeful future with new friends and neighbors at Fountaingate Gardens.

“The addition of Fountaingate Gardens increases the breadth of Gurwin’s services for Long Islanders, creating a full continuum of care Life Plan Community on our beautiful 34-acre campus,” said Stuart B. Almer, President and CEO of the Gurwin Healthcare System.  “Members of our unique community are able to truly age in place — with guaranteed accessed to other levels of healthcare, such as assisted living, short-term rehabilitation or skilled nursing care — when and if needed.  We are pleased to be able to offer an innovative option to those who are seeking a vibrant lifestyle backed by a financial and healthcare safety net and 30 years of healthcare experience that only Gurwin can provide.”

Fountaingate Gardens is slated to open in the Spring of 2022.

See a slide show of the event here.

About Fountaingate Gardens: Fountaingate Gardens is a not-for-profit Life Plan Community, also known as a Continuing Care Retirement Community or CCRC,  being built in Commack, Long Island, NY. The community is an extension of the renowned Gurwin Healthcare System, adding independent living to current offerings that include assisted living, skilled nursing and short-term rehabilitation, among other services. Fountaingate Gardens is a community for seniors who wish to continue their active, independent lifestyle without the burden of home ownership and with the added security of knowing a full continuum of care is available on-site when and if ever needed. For more information, please call (631) 715-2693 or visit www.fountaingateli.org.