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Indeed it takes a village!

Posted: August 27, 2013

Indeed, it takes a village, not just to raise a child, but to make a supportive and engaging community – and JCHE’s Brighton campus is a great example.  As I walk from my car to my office in the morning, I greet a multitude of people who make JCHE the extraordinary place it is.  Imagine this:

Before I am even in the building, I practice my Russian (Zdravstvuite), and Chinese (Nihao) to say hello to the residents getting their exercise outdoors or waiting for their rides. 

As I enter the Genesis program center, the first person I usually see is one of the fantastic CCS janitorial staff, Jose, who works tirelessly to keep Genesis House spotlessly clean and tidy. 

Before I turn the corner to walk up the link connecting Genesis House to Leventhal and Ulin Houses, I pass a resident exercising slowly, but steadily on the NuStep recumbent bicycle in the hallway, and I cheer him on.  We are big into exercise here and everyone can do something! 

I pass our adult day health center, where the staff is escorting residents in for a day of engaging conversation, word games, entertainment, current events and a hot, nutritious lunch.  Across the hall is JCHE’s Congregate Housing Services Program (CHSP) office, open and staffed by very caring hearts 24/7/365 to provide frail residents with supplemental services.   I say good morning to a group of dedicated personal care aides, who gather in the sitting area in the Genesis link before they begin their busy days or during some downtime in between caring for their clients.  A few steps more and I greet one of the home health nurses from one of our community partners pulling her constant companion - a filing case on wheels.  Perhaps she is visiting a resident who has recently been discharged from the hospital, or maybe a longer term patient.  I shudder to think of how our residents would manage without this caring group of workers (JCHE employees and contracted providers) who assist residents all day every day with their daily activities.  For some residents, the care and services they receive from these caregivers make it possible for them to continue to live independently at JCHE.

As I reach the Genesis, Ulin and Leventhal Houses intersection, I say a quick good morning to the resident services coordinators busily heading in and out of their offices in the blue room while a steady stream of residents seek their assistance.  Another quick hello to the maintenance staff, which in a kind and gentle manner are off in every direction keeping the physical facilities in excellent working order.   But wait, there’s more! 

As I pass the Ulin dining room, I catch a glimpse of the JCHE dining services staff working expediently to get the 500+ kosher home delivered meals ready to be delivered to JCHE residents and frail, home-bound Jewish elders living in and around Boston.  Working right beside the staff is a group of volunteers who pack the slices of bread into bags that accompany the meal.  Occasionally, our resident services coordinators are in the dining room early to decorate and prepare for a holiday party or special event replete with entertainment and a meal or sweet treat.  I glance a bit past this hard working bunch to see if deliveries of dairy products, fresh produce and breads are being made to the in-house store.  If our eyes catch, the store staff and I nod to one another from across the dining room so as not to disrupt the other activities. 

No morning would be complete without a “Hello, Ms. Caren” and a chat with Peter, another wonderful CCS janitor who keeps the Ulin House lobby the way I wish I kept my own house.  

Turning the last corner before my office, I am pleased to greet the front desk receptionist, a volunteer position that is filled by resident volunteers every two hours during the business day.  I finally reach my office with full appreciation of an environment rich with diversity, energy, skill, compassion, enthusiasm, accomplishment, dedication, purposeful volunteerism and good will.  A blessing all the way around!


 Caren Silverlieb is JCHE's Director of Strategic Planning and Partnerships

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