Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Love stories with the Jewish Pavilion


Volunteer Karen Selznick (r) with Oakmonte resident, Frank Cutler (center) and his daughter Elaine.

On Sunday, Feb. 22, the Jewish Pavilion will honor two couples who cherish the senior community at their annual gala held at the Lake Mary Westin.

"Emily and Marty Glickstein and Susie and Mark Stone have given their hearts to our seniors housed in elder facilities. Their generosity and compassion has benefitted our elders by strengthening their connection to the community. Please join us at our gala, and become part of the Pavilion 'love story,'" said Nancy Ludin, Jewish Pavilion executive director.

"Love Stories" seemed like a perfect theme for this year's gala-since it's taking place in mid-February," remarked Ludin, noting that love stories of one kind or another, happen daily throughout this elder outreach organization, which helps ensure that seniors residing in long-term care are not forgotten. The Pavilion is a lifeline for its seniors, connecting them with community, and providing programming that benefits the mind, body and spirit. Its volunteers and staff share their hearts with over a thousand elders a year, many of whom are all alone in the world.

Ludin noted, "Many of our volunteers visit seniors weekly, or monthly and develop a loving bond, becoming almost like family."

This past October, Marshall Cohen of Longwood wrote a letter thanking the Pavilion for reaching out to his mother during her stay at two different assisted living homes. He penned, "My mother really cherished the love and kindness she was offered by the Jewish Pavilion, especially by volunteer Shirley Meltzer who she became very close to. Shirley made it a point to spend a day each week with my mother. And I think those visits were the highlight of my mother's time."  

Although Cohen's mother, Adele, passed away several years ago, Cohen hasn't forgotten the kindness of the Jewish Pavilion. He added, "I appreciate more than anything the community connection that the Pavilion gave to my mother."

Pavilion volunteer Karen Selznick regards Oakmonte resident, Frank Cutler as family. For the past three years, Selznick has visited Cutler on a regular basis. She noted, "When we met we just clicked. He has the kindest of faces and reminds me of my grandfather." She continued, "Although he is in his 80s, he has a memory like you can't believe. He always asks about what is going on in my family, and a few weeks later he'll follow up on our past discussions."

Each week Selznick greets Cutler with a warm hug. She stated, "If Frank is playing cards with his buddies when I come in, I'll give a quick kiss hello, and leave him with his friends." She smiled. "Frank tried to teach me to play poker, but it didn't go too well." Most weeks the two friends sit and chat and catch up on the week's happenings. Selznick is eager to learn from Cutler's life experiences, and the two often engage in spirited discussions about the past and historical events. She stated, "I don't have much family, and this man fills my cup. I always feel better when I walk out, than I did when I walked in."

For the past 10 years Pavilion volunteer Ellen Hrabovsky has been visiting seniors at the Mayflower Retirement Community in Winter Park. She makes volunteering a family affair, and shares her affection for seniors with her grandchildren, who frequently accompany her on her visits. Hrabovsky stated, "The seniors get so much out of visiting with my grandkids. Their visits bring a smile to their faces every time."

She recounted a love story between the late Tillie Lefkowitz, and her toddler grandson, Aidan. Hrabovsky explained, "Aidan was only two or three years old the time. He walked into Tillie's room, took her hand and that of another senior at the same time. He just quietly stood there for a minute sharing his love. Nothing is more pure than the love of a child."

Ludin remarked that most seniors welcome the companionship offered by a Pavilion volunteer with open arms. However, there have been times when seniors afflicted with dementia have been a challenge for their companions. Ludin shared, "When a volunteer can break through the barriers put up by dementia, it is possible to develop a strong bond and a unique love story with the senior that eases their anxiety and brings them comfort."

The Jewish Pavilion's gala is open to the public. Dress is cocktail attire (with a splash of red).

Tickets are $118 per person. For more information or to make a donation please visit http://www.jewishpavilion.org or call 407-678-9363.


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