“People ask me if I’m going to stay in Dowling Park after I retire,” says Sandie Hugg, Chief Program Officer at Advent Christian Village. “Why wouldn’t I?” Sandie doesn’t just work at Advent Christian Village; she loves and believes in this community. It took her a little time to find Dowling Park, but now that she has, she has no plans to leave.
Sandie was born in Dauphin, Manitoba, Canada, where she says they have 10 months of winter and two months of bad ice skating weather. She is the middle child of five siblings. When she was born, her father owned a newspaper and her mother owned two theaters and a drive-in. She and her siblings were each put to work at a young age, which helped them develop a good work ethic early. After business college, Sandie got a job with an American company, International Minerals & Chemical Corporation (IMC). They eventually transferred her from Esterhazy, Saskatchewan, to Illinois, to work at the IMC corporate headquarters. It was there that she met Roger Hugg. Sandie worked as an analyst and Roger was a labor attorney, also for IMC. The two hit it off and were married.
In 1978 the Huggs (numbering three now that daughter Ally had been born) moved to Dunedin, Fla. While Roger kept his job, Sandie did not. Before they had finished unpacking, however, the Huggs’ pastor hired Sandie to be treasurer of a new building project: a four-story Lutheran retirement home. The retirement home opened in early 1981 and it was during this time she realized that she really enjoyed working with seniors in long-term care. After finishing her Business Administration degree, she earned her nursing home administrator license and graduated from both Leadership Pinellas and Leadership Tampa Bay. At the same time she took on greater and greater responsibilities in the health care field, eventually becoming Vice President of Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater. Alas, as her administrative responsibilities increased through the years, she found herself spending less and less time with residents. The less time she spent with residents, the less enjoyment she felt in her job.
After the loss of Roger, Sandie decided it was time to get back to doing what she enjoyed most: working with seniors. She was hired by Westminster Communities and worked at their communities in St. Petersburg, Orlando, and Tallahassee. It was while living in Tallahassee that Sandie first met with ACV President Jim Humbles about Advent Christian Village in 2002. All it took was one visit to convince Sandie she wanted to be part of this great organization.
The reason Sandie came to work for ACV is because Advent Christian Village is a true community. She was and still is impressed with how the Village is a mixture of all incomes and how it is an intergenerational program. Everyone is involved and takes care of each other.
When Jim told her the level of benevolence ACV brings in each year, she was floored. She wanted to be involved in a community where neighbor helps out neighbor. “When I go there,” she thought after accepting Jim’s job offer, “I’m going to [help support ACV and its members].” When Sandie isn’t working, quite often you can find her either knocking down pins with her bowling league or playing Legos with her grandson, Stockton. Stockton’s visits to ACV have given Sandie another reason to love this community: everyone is included in work and play, even a little blond boy from Tallahassee. “Stockton loves it here,” Sandie smiles. Like grandmother, like grandson.