The Bristal at Woodcliff Lake Blog

‘Hands on Clay’ in Woodcliff Lake

Residents from Woodcliff Lake enjoyed an afternoon of fun during Hands on Clay with Peter. Peter came in and brought us all we needed to make beautiful sunflower bowls out of clay, using only a few simple tools. He guided us all through the process, teaching us every step of the way. In the end, after the clay dries, we will each have a perfect bowl to remember the class. Peter also brought a stained glass art project for those who did not wish to work with the clay. He was so patient and kind, we hope he’ll return soon with another project for us to enjoy!

Woodcliff Lake’s Passover Seder

We held a very special Passover Seder for residents here in Woodcliff Lake. We gathered in the Country Kitchen along with visiting family members. Rabbi Yosef from Valley Chabad of Woodcliff Lake led us through the reading of the Haggadah.

Employee of the Year 2014

Congratulations to Guadalupe Tovar from our White Plains Community! Guadalupe was chosen as The Bristal’s Employee of the Year at our annual celebration, held in Westbury (pictured below with the golden envelope). Last year, Al Montalvo enjoyed his trip to the Caribbean – we’re sure Guadalupe will be doing the same this year. He has won an all expenses paid trip for two to the Caribbean, and as an added bonus, he gets an additional week of vacation time so that he can enjoy that trip. Congratulations to Guadalupe, and thank you for all of your hard work!

Employee of the Year 2014

Here are some other great shots from the celebration:

The Bristal at A Taste of Long Island

The Bristal Wins The People’s Choice Award at A Taste of Long Island

The Bristal Assisted Living attended A Taste of Long Island, held at Coindre Hall in Huntington. We got to cook in the company of 2013 Master Chef winner Luca Manfe, Hell’s Kitchen Contestant Barret Beyer and Anna and Michael from LI Restaurant Review. Chefs Amanda, Joe and Michael prepared a shrimp and grits with avocado aioli appetizer for everyone to enjoy. There were more than thirty amazing restaurants and food establishments from all over Long Island at the event, but the culinary creation made by The Bristal chefs was so delicious, that it was awarded the People’s Choice Award that night! Congratulations to the culinary team on their impressive win. It was a fun night for everyone, and we’re already looking forward to next year’s Taste of Long Island.




Woodcliff Lake’s Tai Chi Class

John Hood joined us here in Woodcliff Lake for a morning of Tai Chi. This series of stretches can help to improve flexibility, range of motion and balance. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke reported that a study done by the NIH showed that “Tai Chi led to the greatest overall improvements in balance and stability for patients with mild to moderate Parkinson’s disease.” You can read the full article here. We’re so glad to have such a wonderful turnout for our Tai Chi class here in Woodcliff Lake, and we look forward to the next one.

You can read more about Tai Chi and Yoga for seniors here.

St. Patrick’s Day in Woodcliff Lake

We all enjoyed the St. Patrick’s Day festivities in Woodcliff Lake. We began the day learning about the true history of St. Patrick’s Day. We packed into the cinema to watch our entertainers as they danced and performed for us. After lunch, the St. Patrick’s Day Social really got us into the Irish spirit. We hope you all enjoyed the day as much as we did here at The Bristal at Woodcliff Lake!

Woodcliff Lake’s Pet and Music Therapy Class

We all enjoyed a Pet and Music Therapy class here in Woodcliff Lake. For the Music Therapy portion, the instructor took his time – and danced with each one of us! It is so important to keep the body strong and limber. The stretching exercises were wonderful and of course, the dog made every single one of us smile! We look forward to the next class.

Happy Valentine’s Day from Woodcliff Lake

Here in Woodcliff Lake, Valentine’s Day was great. We started the day with crafts – painting hand made valentines for the ones we love. Then, family and friends joined us for an afternoon of great conversation and delicious treats. We enjoyed heart shaped cookies, cupcakes topped with pink icing and, of course, chocolates from a heart shaped box! Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us here in Woodcliff Lake.

‘Outstanding Personal Care Professional’ Awards from LIAF

Members of The Bristal Team Earn Outstanding Personal Care Professional Awards at the Coping and Caring Conference

Hosted by the Long Island Alzheimer’s Foundation

The Long Island Alzheimer’s Foundation (LIAF) recently held their annual Coping and Caring Conference and Awards Luncheon. We would like to congratulate Cheryl Witsell from The Bristal at Westbury and Bibi Annief from The Bristal at Massapequa. Both women work in the Reflections neighborhood of The Bristal, caring for residents with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and memory loss.

These two team members were honored at the luncheon with the Outstanding Personal Care Professional Award.


Cheryl Witsell

Cheryl Witsell
Award Winner
Outstanding Personal Care Professional

Cheryl Witsell was nominated by Westbury’s Director of Reflections, Colleen Jones. As a part of the qualification, nominators were asked to share a story that illustrates the nominee’s remarkable qualities. Cheryl’s story shows genuine care for Reflections residents as well as their families.

The granddaughter of a resident was getting married and expressed that she really wanted her grandmother there. Cheryl decided that she would make it happen. She hired a car service and accompanied the resident to the wedding! The family was incredibly thankful for Cheryl’s generosity and for going above and beyond expectations. Cheryl made sure to take lots of photos of the resident and her family so that she would always be able to remember that day.

Cheryl’s director, Colleen, had this to say: “Cheryl has been working here with residents who have dementia for more than seven years. It takes a special person to work with residents with dementia. They need to have patience, they need to be able to think on their feet, and they need to be loving and understanding. That is exactly what Cheryl is. She is an asset to the Westbury community as she mentors the new Bristal staff, sharing experiences and knowledge of the residents.”

Cheryl grew up in Queens. She later moved to Westbury, where she lived with her parents. Cheryl loves to sing and dance. She is always smiling and has a contagious laugh. She has been married to her husband, Merrick, for 12 years and they have three children. Cheryl treats each of the residents at the Bristal as if they were her own parents.


BiBi Annief

BiBi Annief
The Bristal at Massapequa
Outstanding Personal Care Professional

Bibi Annief was nominated by Massapequa’s Executive Director, Debra Figueroa. To illustrate Bibi’s remarkable qualities, Debra recalled a story where she witnessed Bibi exhibiting true patience and kindness.

A Reflections resident was refusing assistance. Bibi was able to gently redirect him using her comedic wit and gentle manner. She asked him directly what she could do to assist him. Bibi listened to the resident’s needs and did exactly what he asked. She gained his trust, and was able to help the resident. When she was finished assisting him, he gave her a big hug and told her what a beautiful person she was. Bibi knows how to give, and lets the residents guide her in their needs.

Debra expressed that they often use this story as an example to teach others that sometimes, all we need to do is ask the resident what they need. Debra said of Bibi: “She has a huge heart and is always willing to give of herself to residents, family members and co-workers. She has a unique ability to easily calm residents when they are exhibiting difficult behaviors. Bibi is confident in herself, but very humble. She always takes the additional steps to make things work.”

Bibi was born in Guyana where she studied Management and Accounting, eventually working as an Accountant. She and her brothers and sisters joined her parents in the United States in 2010. Her parents had been in the United States for 13 years prior to her arrival. Once she came to the U.S., she studied to become a CNA and found that she enjoyed working with the elderly. She eventually came to work for The Bristal, and she enjoys communicating with and caring for residents. In her free time, Bibi enjoys reading. She also spends time on the computer researching medical information and would like to progress in her career.


The Bristal would also like to congratulate Mr. Allan Vann. A family member of a resident at The Bristal at East Northport, Mr. Vann was recognized at the Coping & Caring Luncheon as an Outstanding Alzheimer’s/Senior Care Advocate.

Congratulations to all of this year’s award recipients!

LIAF Coping & Caring Luncheon 2014

The Bristal Team at the LIAF Coping & Caring Luncheon 2014


Click here to learn more about Reflections at The Bristal

Alzheimer’s Disease Training from the ADRC: Continuing Education

Alzheimer’s Disease Training Curriculum

for Professional Healthcare Providers and/or Professional Caregivers, Recently Completed by Team Members from The Bristal Assisted Living

Hillary Gilbert

Hillary Gilbert

Several staff members from The Bristal Assisted Living recently participated in a continuing education program offered by the Alzheimer’s Disease Resource Center. Hillary Gilbert, Colleen Jones, ToniAnn Notarfrancesco and Angela White all completed the program, called Alzheimer’s Disease & Related Dementias.

This fourteen week course included homework, tests, projects and participation in lectures and guest speaker appearances at various venues. The course was taught by Masters Level Certified instructors and its aim was to improve the job performance of its participants through teaching new skills.

ToniAnn Notarfrancesco

ToniAnn Notarfrancesco

The Alzheimer’s Disease training course objectives were clear:

1. Know the process and development of Alzheimer’s Disease.
2. Identify the specific behaviors associated with Alzheimer’s Disease and how to manage these behaviors.
3. Learn and utilize communication skills to increase effectiveness.
4. Strategize planning for activities and interventions that address the specialized needs of those with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Angela White

Angela White

Angela White, Director of Reflections at The Bristal at Massapequa, said of the Alzheimer’s Disease training: “I really enjoyed this course.” Angela expressed that it provided an “in-depth teaching on the working mechanisms in the brain, explaining the loss of white matter and how it affects memory processing.”

She also felt that the course focused well on the use of techniques to assist those affected by Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementia. Angela was happy to learn other ways “to allow a person with Dementia to complete tasks independently by giving them time and guidance during the task.” The course also stressed “knowing when the task is too demanding for the person and how to step in to assist with completion of the task.”

Colleen Jones

Colleen Jones

Colleen Jones, Director of Reflections at The Bristal at Westbury, took some positive things away from the course. “The class went into the differences between all the categories of dementia and the behaviors in each. The biggest part was the domains of the activities; trying to look at each activity and making sure that we are hitting the social, emotional and physical domains.” Colleen also stated “I think that the class gave me a different perspective on the disease.”

Reflections Programming Specialist for The Bristal, Kate Schneider, had a special message for those who completed the Alzheimer’s Disease training course:

“Congratulations to Hillary, ToniAnn, Angela and Colleen! Taking this course to further educate yourselves is truly a testament to your dedication. The Bristal is proud and grateful to have you on our team. Thank you.”

Click here to learn more about the Reflections Memory Care Program at The Bristal Assisted Living

James Michael Sings in Woodcliff Lake

Broadway baritone James Michael came to The Bristal at Woodcliff Lake to give residents a special private performance. James prides himself on making real connections with the people he performs for through his songs. This performance was no different. Residents loved all of the favorites that he sang, and he truly engaged us all with his wonderful voice. We’re looking forward to having him back!

Holiday Luncheon at The Swan Club

A few of The Bristal communities headed out to enjoy a holiday luncheon at The Swan Club. Not only do we enjoy going out for a meal with our friends, but it’s always great to meet new friends from nearby communities! After lunch, we enjoyed a little dancing before heading home.

Holiday Party 2013 in Woodcliff Lake

We were so pleased to celebrate our first annual Holiday Party here in Woodcliff Lake. Residents and their families enjoyed a festive dinner together. We all spent quality time with our loved ones as we listened to holiday favorites being played on the piano. Here are a few photos from the celebration:

Exercise Class in Woodcliff Lake

Our first residents in Woodcliff Lake are taking full advantage of the packed schedule of events that the Recreation Director has planned. Here, some of the residents gathered for a morning exercise class. The instructor geared this session towards exercises and stretches that can help alleviate some of the pain that is associated with Arthritis. We look forward to sharing many new experiences together!

The Woodcliff Lake Fire Department Joins Us for Dinner

We were so happy to host the men and women who volunteer for the Woodcliff Lake Fire Department. We asked them to join us for an evening where they were able to walk the building with us and review our floor plans. This gives everyone the opportunity to get familiar with our community so they are better prepared if they ever need to respond to an emergency here. After that, we invited them to sit down and enjoy dinner with us. The chefs prepared a delicious spread and we all enjoyed it together. Thanks again to the volunteers for coming to see us – and also for all that you do each day for the community of Woodcliff Lake!

“The mission of the Woodcliff Lake Fire Department is to provide superior service to the patrons of the Borough of Woodcliff Lake in an effort to protect their lives, property and environment. The members of the department will accomplish the mission through fire suppression, fire prevention, public education, emergency response and non-emergency response. The department will maintain the highest level of readiness, enabling delivery of fire fighting and emergency rescue services in a safe, competent and caring manner.”

The Woodcliff Lake Volunteer Fire Department has been serving the community since 1933. For more information about them you can visit their website: