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

Jewish Pavilion celebrates life at chai anniversary


November 9, 2018

Honoree Paul Stenzler (center) with his wife, Terri Fine, and extended family.

The community came out in enthusiastic support of the Jewish Pavilion at its 2018 Gems and Jeans Gala at the Hilton Orlando North on Sunday, Oct. 28. More than 215 people turned out in casually glam attire to celebrate the Pavilion's successes and honor two very special volunteers: Paul Stenzler and Jason Mendelsohn.

The gala marked a milestone in the Pavilion's history: for the past 18 years, the Jewish Pavilion has worked with volunteers to bring the spark of Jewish life and culture to thousands of seniors living in eldercare and independent living facilities in Central Florida. To honor the Pavilion's chai anniversary, the theme of the gala was "To Life!"

Guests mingled and schmoozed during the cocktail hour as they viewed and made bids on a fabulous array of silent auction items, including trips, dining gift cards and fun experiences. A stellar jazz combo played as guests made their way into the ballroom for the short program and dinner, keeping the mood swinging with several additional sets throughout the evening.

Gala co-chairs Susan Livingstone and Shirley Schoenberger hosted the evening and praised the giving hearts and dedication of the Pavilion's staff and volunteers. Welcoming guests, Schoenberger spoke of the warm connections and fabulous camaraderie she and Livingstone have experienced through their involvement with the Jewish Pavilion and of their great appreciation for all that gala attendees have done to support its mission.

Walter Goldstein, a Pavilion program director who is battling cancer, was fortunately able to attend, and he addressed the crowd to express his gratitude for the remarkable outpouring of care and support he has received since his diagnosis. Reflecting on what he has learned over the weeks since he began treatment, Goldstein noted that he and the many other people who visit seniors through the Pavilion truly make a difference in their lives and become like family to them. In turn, the seniors and the staffs of communities they live in-and the Orlando Jewish community as a whole-have been treating him like family, bringing him strength and great comfort.

Stenzler, the Pavilion board's immediate past president and one of the night's two honorees, spoke of how much the Pavilion's visits and programs had meant to his mother when she lived in several area eldercare facilities. He and his wife, Terri Fine, have been very active volunteers. "We have established so many happy and close relationships with seniors and their families in our volunteer efforts," said Stenzler. "The Jewish Pavilion provides them with a primary source of comfort, love and Jewish experiences."

Also honored was Mendelsohn, a board member who, along with his wife, Ronni, has a large extended family with deep ties to Orlando's Jewish community. Like Stenzler, he also became involved in the Pavilion after seeing what its services meant to a beloved family member. "Even with the strength of a family like ours," Mendelsohn said, "the involvement and work of the Jewish Pavilion was significant, as they visited my father-in-law in the nursing home on a weekly basis. As family life gets hectic and busy, the Jewish Pavilion always shows up, making certain that the seniors we love never feel alone."

Honoree Jason Mendelsohn (r) with Ryan, Lauren and Adam and his wife, Ronni.

The entertaining evening raised more than $55,000 to help seniors in our community. Pavilion CEO Nancy Ludin said, "It is so warming to see the enthusiastic support for the Jewish Pavilion's mission of enhancing the lives of seniors in eldercare by connecting them with a caring Jewish community. We are very proud that 94 percent of the money raised goes directly to our numerous programs for Central Florida seniors, bringing them engaging programs and a feeling of connection." Ludin thanked the Harper Foundation, the evening's presenting sponsor, for its continuing support, as well as all of the table sponsors, event donors and event volunteers for ensuring the evening's success.

The Jewish Pavilion's staff and hundreds of volunteers visit individual seniors, celebrate holidays and conduct engaging programs that draw active participation of residents from all religious traditions. Volunteers and donations are always needed and welcome. Call 407-678-9363; also, visit JewishPavilion.org and OrlandoSeniorHelpDesk.org for information and connect at Facebook.com/jewishpavilion and Facebook.com/seniorhelpdesk.


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