By Cindy Zonies
Director of Service Coordination
Weinberg Senior Living
What the community offers our seniors and what they bring us, is so impressive, it can boggle the mind and fill you with pride. How fortunate older adults living on limited incomes are to have affordable housing opportunities that are rich in services and supported by community agencies and volunteers. How lucky we are that so many seniors living among us feel a tremendous sense of satisfaction when they give of themselves. It’s quite a lovely symbiotic relationship. Though never perfect, it is essential to reflect on accomplishments and celebrate before setting forth to address the challenges of the future.
It’s a beautiful day in our neighborhood. Imagine this as the day begins. Smell the aroma of a fresh pot of coffee, lively conversation and camaraderie in the café kitchens of several Weinberg Senior Buildings. The providers of the Helping Hands Program begin their home care services to residents in Weinberg Place. The Levindale Northwest Senior Shuttle starts its circuit and begins to pick up residents for a trip to the mall or the supermarket. A Lifebridge nurse checks on the blood pressure of a homebound resident and a handful of energetic “early birds” take a serious walk on paths around Weinberg Village.
The day continues. Pretend you are looking down from high above to observe the senior scenery. Fifteen hundred older adults living in fourteen Weinberg Buildings appear before you. Ninety-six-year-old Ester sashays down the runway at a senior fashion show organized by the Jewish Community Center Activity Director. Donn belts out a tune at a birthday bash. The Diller Baltimore Teen Fellows visit to listen to stories and look at pictures as their new, elderly friends reminisce. The ASSOCIATED Center for Community Engagement & Leadership’s Chapter Two women escort several Weinberg Woods’ ladies around the Jewish Museum of Maryland, and that same group joins with residents to prepare gift packages for CHANA. Resident knitting clubs work madly to reach Jewish Volunteer Connection’s knitting goals for Mitzvah Day.
It makes your heart swell to observe neighbors helping neighbors in a multitude of ways. Marsha and Sally cut coupons and shop for The Market at Weinberg Village. Volunteers from The National Council of Jewish Women purchase the goods and pack welcome bags for new residents. The Boonshafts plan and orchestrate annual Seders, barbecues and other events. Who are the Boonshafts you ask? They are the most amazing, generous, selfless, dedicated couple you could ever meet. They adopted the residents who live Weinberg House!
It’s comforting to have agency friends who team with you to solve complex problems. Is it financial, a family conflict or dementia? Does the individual need to apply for benefits? How will he/she get to the doctor? Jewish Community Services professionals assist our seniors and their families and collaborate with building service coordinators. What needs to be done to keep residents living where they want to live, where they are comfortable and happy? It’s our charge and our challenge, but we’re not alone in the task.
It’s easy to feel jealous. Fitness programs like the new trend Drumming class, Zumba and Senior Yoga often keep our seniors in better shape than those who serve them. On site Wii competitions and pool tables are enjoyed. The Eating Together Program, convenience stores, café’s, Produce Drops from The Maryland Food Bank and excursions to restaurants ensure that no one should ever be hungry. When Richard, the Mashgiach from Weinberg Park Assisted Living, brings Wednesday night dinner to Weinberg Terrace, you can be sure the food is delectable and the ambiance delightful. His pies are outstanding!
The giving, the connections and the partnerships strengthen and grow. Garden tables spill over with tomatoes, peppers and squash, while senior gardeners tend to their bounty thanks to the Pearlstone Conference and Retreat Center’s Kayam Farm project. Do you have hidden talents? Discover them in art or music class. Learn English, make jewelry, keep up with politics and events in the world. Hang out with your friends. Learn computer skills with local student tutors. Grab a book from the Bookmobile. Raise funds for your resident associations with flea markets and carnivals. Laugh a lot, love a lot … there’s no need to be alone.
Even when it’s raining, snowing or super hot, there is always something beautiful in the day for our seniors in the neighborhood… And it is the folks at CHAI who make this all happen.