After my rather painful first meeting with Advent Health, a lot happened. Advent Health grew and grew and grew (today a 2-digit Billion organization) and APG grew, and grew, and grew, today a multi-billion-dollar organization.
Our friendship with Advent Health remains strong and our missions are similar. Much like their CREATION model (choice, rest, environment, activity, trust, interpersonal relationship, nutrition), our company mission and vision focus on health as a strong foundation. At Avalon Park Group our mission is to change the way the world lives, learns, works, and plays through creating healthy sustainable communities and every aspect thereof. There is value in carrying the principles that we use in designing communities into the work environment, encouraging our employees to maintain a healthy and balanced life. We believe that our strength is in our experience and our experience comes through the passionate dedication our employees’ channel into everything they do. Not only do I serve as a member of the Advent Health Board of Directors, our organizations collaborate in many ways such as through events, affiliations, internships and many more where our missions align.
Just a little over 4 years ago, I was invited to a dinner by our Human Resources Chief, a dinner hosted by Advent Health. This dinner was to choose a company that they would champion over the following 3 years to make it the healthiest company to work for in Central Florida. I was thrilled, and surprised, to be among the 20 finalists Advent Health had narrowed down. I felt extremely honored when Advent Health chose the Avalon Park Group and our collection of companies and projects, with a diverse workforce of 200+ team members to start a health journey together. At the time, our senior team realized the most precious and most important bonus we could ever give to our teams and their families is HEALTH. We found that to increase the health of all of us would be priceless. And we did, with an initial assessment was made (weight, bloodwork, etc.), we started with 280 points, with the goal to improve over 3 years. We did very well. At the end of the 3 years, our score was 650. Team members quit smoking, beat Diabetes and obesity, got in shape, both in body, and spirit. I am still getting Christmas cards from families saying how thankful they are for the regained physical and mental health.
A great partnership made it possible. Could we had done it alone? NO. It needed our will to change the health of our team members, small moves like eliminating junk food like donuts (not all of them, but most), soda, Swiss Chocolate, and so much more. We worked out together and alone, ran 5K’s, and gathered for educational programs with the Advent Health team. We needed the coaching and insight of Advent Health, a true partnership.
Advent Health, at their cost (with a portion of the $150,000 award fund) hired HealthNext, out of Philadelphia to move us from “semi-healthy” to “super healthy.” At first HealthNext was a bit skeptical, they were used to deal with the General Electric and Johnson & Johnsons of this world, but when they realized our vision is to change how people live, learn, work and play, they got really excited.
The experience over the last 3 years got us to think BIGGER (by the way, we always do this at APG), how about if we can create the healthiest communities in the I-4 corridor, in Orlando, Wesley Chapel, Tavares, and Daytona. The only way to make this work is with again a partnership, but this time between you, APG, Advent Health, Health Next, the YMCA, and more! Can you imagine telling a friend, that you live in the HEALTHIEST community in Central Florida? Can you imagine working towards living to a HEALTHY 100 years old?
Anything starts with a first step….When I came to the United States some 25+ years ago to develop Avalon Park Orlando, the first letter of intent, I ever signed here in 1996 was with the YMCA, we agreed to build a Y in Avalon Park. Well, we tried, negotiated, looked at fundraising and layout, and tried, and tried, but did not come to terms. The YMCA then went to Blanchard Park. But, we did not give up. In 2004 I was sitting with the at that time CEO, Jim Ferber at lunch at Founder’s Square in Avalon Park. We talked again about how we could build a YMCA in Avalon Park. While doing so we looked at Town Center 2, under construction….and there you go, spontaneously and with a handshake, we agreed to a YMCA in that very building and opened it, almost 15 years ago.
It is my belief that in order to become the healthiest community in Central Florida, we need to continue and grow our healthy partnerships. We also need a larger, better, newer Y …. and yes, we are working on it. We are in planning and design for an Olympic sized swimming pool, a boutique hotel, and a large fitness center (which we would love to be the YMCA). It could serve as the center of health in Avalon Park.
We are excited to expand on our partnership with trusted long-term partners, like Advent Health and the YMCA to create the healthiest communities in Central Florida, where people can live, learn, work and play.