Windemere’s Annual Fund

November 2016

Dear Friends,

Hardship does funny things to you — it can hurt you or help you. I grew up during the Great Depression, scrounging for every penny. I remember being a teenager, tutoring kids my own age to make fifty cents. It wasn’t easy being a poor kid, it was very hard. But your values get developed that way.

I was always good in school — I loved education. While working as a public health nurse in New Haven and raising a family of four children, I had to do my schooling a piece here and a piece there over many years. I pursued every scholarship I thought might be available to me, and I was pretty successful at that. When I went to my final graduation at the University of New Haven, to accept a master’s degree in gerontology, I was in my early eighties. My grandchildren were there with a big sign: Yay, Grandma!

Gerontology was a field that interested me, learning about how people grow old. What the hell, I wanted to know how you do it. And now I’ve done it: I was 99 years old this past September.

When we moved here in the 1980s and I applied for a job with Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard, they wanted to know why I was retiring from my job in New Haven. They didn’t realize I was already 84 years old! I was president of Hospice for 10 years — it was good work. I knew Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, who was a founder of Hospice; she was a very nice lady. And Hospice was a good fit with my philosophy: You live until the end, as best you can. That’s the best way I can put it.

I moved into the assisted living section of Windemere about six months ago — I was an old lady, and I could no longer live independently. This apartment is my home now. I’m surrounded by things I saved from my home in West Tisbury — they encourage you to do that here. I have pictures of my son, my three daughters, my grandchildren — fourteen of them, and they’re all just gorgeous.

This is what happens when you grow old: it happens again and again. Just talk to all the people living here. Windemere is a life-saver for so many people. I have Island friends who visit me often, and we have a community of our own right here.

You want words of wisdom? I haven’t got them. But I do know that without Windemere, I’d have to scrounge now, at the end of my life, the way I did when I was a girl. Perhaps I’d be living in someone’s cellar now. People need to understand what a hidden treasure Windemere is, and your generous support will mean that this very important place will be here for many years to come.



Sarah Isenberg

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Sarah Isenberg (pictured here at her 98th birthday party last
September) spent a career in public health nursing in Connecticut
before moving year-round to West Tisbury and serving for a
decade as the president of Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard. She has
been a resident of the Windemere Nursing & Rehabilitation
Center since late last year.