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The Jewish Pavilion is not a “place” but it has a place in the hearts of seniors throughout Central Florida. Our staff and hundreds of volunteers visit seniors in more than 75 local assisted-living, long-term care, nursing, memory and rehabilitation facilities. The Jewish Pavilion mission is to be the Jewish connection for elder-care residents. Enhancing lives in senior-living communities through friendly visits, holiday celebrations, and engaging programs. Bringing smiles to residents of all faiths.
Imagine what it would be like to lose your health, your spouse, your friends, your car, and your home. No one wants to grow old alone. Yet, most people do. Isolation, loneliness and depression afflict most seniors in long- term care.
People sleeping is what you see when you walk into a nursing home. Why bother to remain awake when there is little to look forward to? To make matter worse, Jewish seniors in assisted living and nursing homes often feel abandoned by the Jewish community. They no longer have the opportunity to participate in Jewish holiday celebrations. As former members of a vibrant community, they feel isolated from communal life.
The Jewish Pavilion is a life-line for elderly Jews in long-term care. The Jewish Pavilion staff and volunteers go wherever someone in our community is in need. We are there to look after loved ones, brighten someone’s day with a gift or lift someone’s spirits with a visit or holiday celebrations. We bring tasty treats, education, magic, and music to so many. It’s in all of the long term care facilities where we come together to share our culture with residents of all faiths.
Recruiting, training and overseeing a network of volunteers takes time and money. The Pavilion has four paid Program Directors (North, South, East and West) who coordinate up to 100 volunteers in their area. They plan and facilitate all of the activities in a dozen buildings in their area including Shabbat meals, holiday festivities, and musicales. We also have an inter-generational director whose focus is to join our local youth with the elderly so that each can learn from the other.
Help is needed when someone calls the Pavilion. Usually, there is a crisis such as, “mom just fell and now the family needs to determine whether she can continue to live by herself”. Our new Resource Specialist is a trained social worker who offers a helping hand to families in transition; assisting seniors and their loved ones with all aspects of elder care.
Providing Shabbat, holiday programs and weekly visitation to seniors, staff and volunteers to meet their needs requires financial support. In-kind donations must be sought to cover the expenses of more than 50 parties a month, all over town. 94 % of the agency budget goes toward the provision of program, so that our elders in every facility are visited, feel loved and included in the Jewish community. Residents of all faiths are invited to share in these celebrations and acquire a taste for our culture. Their staff are trained by the Pavilion on Jewish foods and traditions.
The initial goal of the Jewish Pavilion was to create a Jewish Home for the Aged in Orlando. The group began with a Jewish wing at Westminster Care in Orlando where kosher meals were provided and holidays were celebrated. The leadership soon realized that the location was not ideal for the members of the Jewish community so they began to provide outreach to facilities all over town where Jewish residents lived. Today, The Jewish Pavilion staff and hundreds of volunteers visit residents in over 75 long term care facilities. Shabbat and holiday parties, musicales, ice cream socials and inter-generational activities are shared with residents of all faiths.
It is costly to provide bi-monthly or monthly Shabbat and holiday parties, ice cream socials and musicales for 350 Jewish residents and their friends. We estimate that the Pavilion spends approximately $1000 per senior each year. We also operate the Orlando Senior Help Desk. Our Senior Resource Specialist is a social worker with discharge planning experience and a career working with the elderly. She provides information and referral services, free of charge, to anyone who has a need pertaining to senior life and “holds their hand” through the entire process. Our Resource specialist can assist someone anyone looking for a facility, an elder care attorney, home health, Medicaid planning etc. Funding this resource is a challenge and more funds are needed in order to increase our hours of operation. Visit www.OrlandoSeniorHelpDesk.org.