Jewish Pavilion volunteers of the year
Jewish Pavilion volunteers Faye Novick and Toby Vandemark live by the creed,"It is better to give than to receive." Novick and Vandemark have volunteered with the Jewish Pavilion, a charitable organization that serves seniors in long-term care with companionship and holiday programming, in many capacities. Both women serve on the Pavilion's Friends and Executive boards, and were integral to the success of the Pavilion's "Walk in the Park," and will be honored as volunteers of the year at the J P Connections/Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon on Dec. 5t at the Hilton, Altamonte Springs.
Novick grew up in Atlanta and lived in New Orleans prior to moving to Orlando in 1998 with husband, Bill. She has had an exciting career path ranging from buying engines for Lockheed Martin, serving as the personal assistant for a multi-millionaire to managing her family's Atlanta wall covering business. She currently works as a wedding and bar mitzvah planner, a job she loves as it allows her to help make her client's special day truly exceptional. Focusing on the positive and treating every day as a gift became a priority following a breast cancer diagnosis in 2007. Today Novick says, "if it's not cancer, I'm not going to get stressed about it."
After helping with logistics involving more than 90 vendors during October's, "Walk, Novick commented, "I love working with the vendors, and I have learned a lot over the years (like placing coffee and food tables at each end of the walk). The vendor's success helps the Pavilion fund services like the senior help desk." She added, "The new senior help desk offers an amazing resource to those seeking assistance."
In addition, Novick served as a companion to Pavilion senior, Myra Gordon, who resided in a memory care center until her death last November. Though Myra suffered from Alzheimer's disease, Novick felt her visits made a difference.
"It was always a joy to see Myra," she said. "I really miss her. Though Alzheimer's took her memory, I always felt her spirit was still there."
Novick's zest for life motivated her to pursue acting classes since 1999; she even was in a commercial, which aired in Canada. She noted that, "acting is a rare opportunity to walk in someone else's shoes."
Toby Vandemark has been active in the Orlando Jewish community since she relocated in 2008, serving on the Federation board as well as serving in various capacities with the Pavilion. Her travel agency business, Cruise Trips for Two, prepared her to be the Pavilion's treasurer, a position she continues to hold, while broadening her involvement to include "Walk" co-chairwoman and serving on the gala committee.
After her parents downsized to an assisted-living facility out of state, Vandemark came to appreciate the need for the Jewish Pavilion. "When I visited my parents, my mom would say something like 'let's visit Sophie downstairs, she never gets any visitors,'" Vandemark noted. "I feel that the mission (of the Pavilion) is so worthwhile-no senior should grow old alone. If I can make even a small difference in their lives then I have done something good with my time."
Vandemark volunteers at Savannah Court Happy Hours, where she sings, visits, and offers companionship to the Pavilion's seniors. "The times when, at Savannah Court, I get to sing along with the residents, I watch them smile. They may not remember their family or even who they are, but with the music they can remember the songs and it brings smiles to their faces and to mine."
Vandemark raised her family in New York and North Carolina, and values time with her children, Aaron and Lauren, as well as grandchildren, Henry (4) and Mabel (1). Vandemark and husband, Robert, celebrated their 43rd wedding anniversary at the end of November.
Both Novick and Vandemark are humbled to be recognized by an organization they hold very dear to their heart. Nancy Ludin, executive director of the Pavilion said, "We are blessed to have such wonderful volunteers like Toby and Faye. Much of what Faye and Toby do is behind the scenes and makes the Pavilion run as smoothly as it does. We are honored to be able to show these two wonderful ladies the recognition they deserve and put them at the forefront of our luncheon."