RiverWoods Named 2016 Business of the Year

Chamber awards bring laughter, tears of appreciation


Exeter New-Letter/Portsmouth Herald/Seacoast Media Group

September 2, 2016

PORTSMOUTH — Thursday night, dozens of Exeter area business owners, movers and shakers gathered at the Sheraton Harborside Hotel for the Chamber’s 2016 Community Awards Dinner.

RiverWoods active retirement community and the Exeter Inn/Epoch Restaurant and Bar were big winners, taking home the Health Care — large employer and Tourism and Hospitality awards.

Birch Hill Terrace-RiverWoods affiliation OKd

Agreement aims to bring ‘fresh ideas and resources to the table'

BY JEFF FEINGOLD, NH Business Review

Published: July 12, 2016

(click to view on NHBR website)

State regulators have officially approved the affiliation agreement between Birch Hill Terrace, a continuing care retirement community in Manchester, and The RiverWoods Group, parent company of the RiverWoods continuing care retirement community in Exeter.


Birch Hill to Begin $9 million Renovation and Improvement Plan

Cathleen Toomey
[email protected]

July 12, 2016, Manchester Birch Hill Terrace, a non-profit charitable Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) with roots in Manchester that go back 125 years, announced an affiliation with The RiverWoods Group, a non-profit, charitable organization that is parent company of RiverWoods Continuing Care Retirement Community ( CCRC), based in Exeter, New Hampshire.

LOGOS_IMG00341This announcement is the culmination of a two year process of discussion and deliberation between the two boards. The affiliation has received approval by the NH Department of Insurance, which governs CCRCs, as well as the NH Department of Charitable Trust, which must review and approve such proposals in the state.

“We are thrilled that our work together has culminated in this partnership,” said Gary Zabierek, President of Birch Hill Terrace. “This affiliation will bring fresh ideas and resources to the table. Next month we will start a major capital investment in our physical plant, which will transform the look of our apartment homes, and bring new energy to the community.”

Justine Vogel, CEO and President of The RiverWoods Group added, “Although we have not taken this step until now, Birch Hill and RiverWoods already share identical values and mission; we were both founded by grassroots community members interested in improving the lives of others. Together, we can provide peace of mind to more seniors in New Hampshire. As two charitable non-profit CCRCs we will both benefit from an affiliation.”

With approval in hand, improvements are the next step. Birch Hill is revealing their plans for a reimaged community, and will be investing $9 million in the next 24 months into the building. This will be the single largest capital investment in the company’s history.

Nationally, there are close to 2000 Continuing Care Retirement Communities, and the concept has been around for more than 100 years. With that said, the story of this “holistic approach” to senior care is only now being shared with the public. Although it’s growing, right now there only are a handful of CCRCs in northern New England. However, interest and education about this concept has been rapidly increasing among retirees. CCRCs welcome people 62 years or older, to enter as independent residents. Once there, residents can enjoy a variety of amenities (housekeeping, laundry service, dining, inside and outside maintenance, programs and exercise classes), while making friends. As they age, if a resident needs a higher level of care, it is available to them within the same campus. Depending on the CCRC contract type, this is generally at a reduced cost. Additionally, often a resident can get a refund on their initial entrance fee, when they pass away or move. To provide affordability and meet the needs of a clientele looking for comfort and quality care, the majority of CCRCs are non-profit, and many are organized within systems.

In addition to its capital improvement plans, Birch Hill has also created a new program, the Leader’s Circle, that provides significant financial incentives and special home upgrades to a limited number of people. The plans for Leader’s Circle will be reviewed at a luncheon program open to the public on September 21, at LaBelle Winery. To reserve a seat, please contact [email protected] or call 603-836-2302.

“We will transform our campus in the next 2 years,” said Gary Zabierek. “I can tell you that if you think you’ve seen Birch Hill, you owe it to yourself to take a second look.”


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – March 21, 2016, Manchester, New Hampshire – Today, Birch Hill Terrace, a non-profit charitable Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) with roots in Manchester that go back 125 years, announced that its board voted last week to affiliate with The RiverWoods Group, a parent company of RiverWoods Continuing Care Retirement Community ( CCRC), based in Exeter, New Hampshire.

“The time is right for this move,” said Gary Zabierek, President of Birch Hill Terrace. “We are facing an unprecedented wave of boomers getting ready for retirement, bringing an increased demand for contemporary enhancements. This affiliation brings resources and fresh ideas that will help position us to serve both our current residents as well as the next generation.”

2015 President & Chairman's Letter

President and Chairman's Letter - By Justine Vogel and Bruce Mast - RiverWoods at ExeterThe following letter was published in the 2015 RiverWoods Annual Report. Current and past RiverWoods Annual Reports and Financial Statements can be found by clicking here.

Have you ever realized that something is only “unimaginable” until you imagine it? Opportunities, and risks, only become “real” when they occur or when you give them life through thought. Spending time “imagining” can lead to a world of worry, but it can also open up a world of possibilities.

Every day at RiverWoods, we talk about our commitment to providing Community and Peace of Mind. We think about how our founders took risks and thought about serving in a way and addressing a need that was bigger than themselves – and we work to that purpose. Providing the opportunity for Community and Peace of Mind is the heart of who we are as an organization; it’s our purpose, our Mission. For 21 years, we have done that through creating some truly fantastic CCRCs. It can be hard to imagine being anything different; particularly because we continue to operate with incredible operational success. The old adage of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” tends to surface in these situations.

But this year we have stretched our thinking, “imagined” if you will, the various things we could and should consider as we face a growing need and a changing environment for older adults. We’ve talked more and more about the various ways that we can meet our Mission – we’ve talked with our residents, our staff and our Board. We listened and learned with and from those three groups, as well as various industry experts.

Resident Satisfaction Survey: RiverWoods receives high marks

resident survey results - RiverWoods at Exeter continues to receive high marksThe 2015 Resident Satisfaction Survey results were once again very favorable and place RiverWoods in the top tier of Continuing Care Retirement Communities surveyed nationally according to Holleran, a third party performance measurement company.This marks the 5th consecutive year that RiverWoods participated in the Holleran survey which allows RiverWoods to compare satisfaction against 301 other CCRCs nationwide.

RiverWoods at Exeter residentsMore than 80 percent of RiverWoods residents completed the survey which measures resident satisfaction using 55 factors, and of these, 34 have benchmark comparisons. RiverWoods scored significantly above the benchmark in 27 of those factors. Our highest scores were received in friendliness and courtesy of staff, confidence in the Nurse Practitioners, the opportunity to engage in a variety of suitable activities, the quality of Fitness Centers and programs, and the quality of the Transportation services. All of these factors and several others placed RiverWoods in the 90th percentile ranking of the 301 CCRCs surveyed.

Holleran also provides ‘Highest Honors Awards’ for factors that meet a specific set of criteria including overall resident satisfaction scoring at or above the 70th percentile, the factor score is significantly above the benchmark, and in the 90th percentile. Holleran regards a community to be ‘Best in Class’ if it receives 5 to 7 Highest Honors; RiverWoods received 32 Highest Honors Awards!

RiverWoods Exeter Future Resident Program

In Early Spring of 2015, RiverWoods Exeter launched the Future Resident Program, developed in response to feedback from folks on our wait list. The goal of the program provide additional opportunities for people who have joined our wait list to stay connected to residents at RiverWoods Exeter. In fact, the wait list is now officially called the Future Resident Roster. Future Residents have formal name badges, similar to residents and are invited to participate in exclusive events designed to bring them closer to each other and current residents of RiverWoods Exeter.

RiverWoods Renews Major Charitable Partnership with Society of Saint Vincent de Paul Exeter

Outreach effort to culminate in October 2016 Gala fundraiser with fellow nonprofit.

Residents at RiverWoods Retirement Community have selected Society of Saint Vincent de Paul (SVdP) Exeter as the recipient of the retirement community’s two year partnership to culminate in a major fundraising Gala event in the fall of 2016 at RiverWoods in Exeter, NH.

From the first year RiverWoods opened, the community has held a fundraiser for another local non-profit. The most recent RiverWoods Gala Auction raised a record $100,000 for SVdP. The record breaking evening was held at RiverWoods Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) in Exeter in October 2014 with more than 400 in attendance. RiverWoods staff and residents and SVdP volunteers donated hundreds of hours of time during the two year partnership.RiverWoods residents and auction volunteers pictured with the $100,000 check from the 2014 Gala presented by RiverWoods to Saint Vincent de Paul (SVdP). Left to right are RiverWoods residents Nancy DeLong, Sally Hollaman, Nancy Cameron, Nancy Taylor; Nancy Smath and Penny Teodorczyk of RiverWoods; Molly Zirillo and Cleo Castonguay of SVdP.

“Society of Saint Vincent de Paul Exeter fills a vital and growing need in this community.” said RiverWoods Outreach Committee Co-Chair, Penny Teodorczyk. “Our renewed partnership is an opportunity for RiverWoods residents and staff to make a positive and sustainable impact for Seacoast residents in need. Everyone involved in the partnership quite simply excels at helping people through donations and volunteerism. We’re excited to keep the momentum going for the 2016 Gala.”

RiverWoods Receives Upgrade to A- Fitch Rating

Landing in Top 2% NationallyRiverWoods at Exeter Upgraded to A- Rating

The national agency, Fitch Ratings, released their independent report on RiverWoods’ financial picture, and upgraded the community to A- status, which puts RiverWoods in the top 2% of Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) nationwide.

Of the 1900 Continuing Care Retirement Communities in the U.S., the majority of which are non-profit, only 7 % are rated by professional financial rating firms. The reason for a community to undergo the grueling process of having their financial books rated by an outside agency is to establish their financial strength in relation to others on a national stage. This, in turn, helps the community gain more preferable borrowing rates from lending organizations.

Another advantage of having your debt rated is that an independent evaluation of the community’s financial picture provides an outside third party assessment.. Few CCRCs invite this type of evaluation and RiverWoods is the only CCRC in New Hampshire to achieve an A- rating.

2014 President & Chairman's Letter

President and Chairman's Letter - By Justine Vogel and Bruce Mast - RiverWoods at ExeterThe following letter was published in the 2014 RiverWoods Annual Report. Current and past RiverWoods Annual Reports and Financial Statements can be found by clicking here.

When we reflect on our 20th anniversary, it feels like we are at a new starting line, 20 years into a very long-term journey. RiverWoods was established to create and nurture community for seniors for the rest of their lives, and we make that long-term commitment every day. That being the case, 20 years is a big deal and a drop in the bucket all at the same time.

More than 30 years ago, our founders sat around a kitchen table and envisioned an option that didn’t exist in southern New Hampshire. What was critical to them was creating community and providing peace of mind for seniors – knowing that an option that reduced some of the burdens that go along with aging would allow people to live richer, fuller lives. They thought and talked and researched and persevered for 10 years – and from their work came a community that over the last 20 years has grown to be three campuses serving 620 residents and employing 478 staff. The RiverWoods community was their dream and in the words of co-founder Maryanna Hatch “It is better than I ever imagined.”