people in the know – Betsy Schermerhorn


Betsy Schermerhorn is the Director of Marketing and Admissions at Kendal at Ithaca

Tell a very brief history of Kendal at Ithaca. What is its mission and what makes it such a special community?

Kendal at Ithaca was the first operational continuing care retirement community (CCRC) – also known as a lifecare or lifeplan community – in New York State. We welcomed our first residents in December of 1996. We are an affiliate of the Kendal Corporation of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, which was established at the impetus of a group of Quakers. Our mission is to provide a mutually supportive environment for residents and staff, and to contribute to the greater Ithaca community. We offer residential amenities, activities and facilities, and health care for life. The most special thing about Kendal is the people – they’re engaged, enthused, and energized by our environment. 

How did you become involved with the community and what is your role?

I had no idea what or where Kendal was until my mother moved there and I accompanied her on a “Try Us” visit. We were both sold. I was impressed with the community, the care, amenities and people – residents and staff. About seven years later, I was looking for a new challenge, and the director of marketing and admissions became available. Our team helps people understand the options they have for living as they age and how the CCRC model supports graceful aging. 

What part of the Finger Lakes Region do you like the most?

I’m partial to the southern ends of Cayuga and Seneca Lakes with their dramatic rock formations, gorges and waterfalls. One fun thing about the Finger Lakes is that you can see from one side of a lake to the other. That brings a real sense of connectedness, centered on the lakes. I also enjoy the north ends that spread into open farmland.

What words of wisdom would you pass onto your childhood self?

Even if it looks scary, don’t be afraid to try something new. I’m on my third career, and despite them all being quite different, there’s a thread that binds them together into a journey that makes sense.

What inspires you?

I’m always inspired by the creative energies that others demonstrate. I’m also greatly inspired by the older adults with whom I have the honor to share most of my days – they’re a wealth of wisdom, humor and gentle guidance.

What is one thing people often misunderstand about you?

Probably people are most surprised to learn I’m really an introvert. Despite performing onstage and speaking in public, I’m a very happy solitary person with my dog and my garden and my music. 

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