Pavilion honors Sharon Littman
October 18, 2019
Life is all about family for Maitland's Sharon Littman, Jewish Pavilion Friends Board member since 2014 and this year's 'Gems and Jeans' gala honoree, to be held on Sunday, Nov. 3 at 5 p.m. at the Westin, Lake Mary. This familial affection is the twinkle in her eyes when any of her three teen-aged children 'bing' her cell-phone. A knowing smile accompanies a 'ring' from Adam, husband of 21 years, or a Facetime call with her parents, still living near her hometown of Edison, New Jersey.
This year Littman's 'family' has been steadily growing, and she glows talking about the latest additions, which include a handful of elderly residents she regularly visits through the Jewish Pavilion. "Every Monday when I walk into Savannah Court (Maitland), my special ladies are waiting for me." While she enjoys facilitating Monday bingo and serving snacks at the accompanying happy-hour, she treasures her group chats and one-on-one visits with the residents who make up her "Monday Family."
Volunteering regularly for almost a year, Littman makes a point of knowing each resident by name. She comments, "with aging parents of my own, I recognize the value of each resident. Each one has a whole life history worth knowing, and I do my best to listen."
If there is a birthday, Littman arrives with a sunny bouquet, recognizing that many residents have no nearby family members to commemorate the occasion. If there is loss or a moment of sadness, the gala honoree shares a listening ear and a tissue.
The residents appreciate Littman's commitment and regular visits and openly shower affection upon her. A resident named *Terry refers to her as "my Earth Angel." Terry and her 'borrowed daughter' often sit side by side and share the happenings of their weeks. Occasionally, Terry is overcome by emotion, as she discusses her late husband and Littman offers soothing words of consolation and a quick squeeze of the hand.
When any of her three children-Jacob, Zachary, and Alyssa-have a break in their busy schedules, she brings them along for mutual benefit. "The residents have so much wisdom and affection to share. My kids enjoy the company almost as much as the seniors, who are living history books. The residents frequently speak of the Depression or war times, events my kids read about in school, but have the opportunity to hear first-hand through those who lived it."
During a visit with 'mom' last spring, 15- year-old Alyssa jumped right in as a Bingo assistant, collecting cards, and handing out prizes. The teen commented, "I've spent so much time visiting with my grandparents that I'm comfortable spending time with other people's grandparents." Recently, Alyssa wrote a school essay on values passed down by her parents; Sharon and Adam were pleased to read that compassion was listed as a core family value.
With her own parents living out-of-town, the Jewish Pavilion's mission to connect the elder-care residents and their families with life enhancing resources and a caring community strikes a personal chord. While Littman is a frequent flyer, making regular visits to see "mom and dad," she recognizes the loneliness of elders who are separated from family and friends. She comments, "Senior loneliness has been declared a national crisis for good reason. The hour or so I spend weekly visiting the residents visibly brightens their day. Not only do they feel better, but I leave feeling happy, as well. Volunteering goes both ways, and the connections I have developed are life-changing for me, as well."
Friend Marci Gaeser introduced Littman to the Pavilion a little more than five years ago when she invited her to join the Pavilion's Friends Board. Gaeser commented, "Sharon's kids were getting older, and I knew she was looking for ways to give back and to connect with the Jewish community. As Sharon is so close with her parents, I knew she would be a great match for volunteering with seniors."
Nancy Ludin, Jewish Pavilion executive director, noted, "For the past several years Sharon has been instrumental in the planning and success of our gala and fashion shows. While we appreciate all her skills, the meaningful relationships she has developed with the residents we serve shows what the Jewish Pavilion is all about- connecting seniors with a caring community."
Littman is a working mom who juggles her community commitments with work and family. She is an accountant who works alongside her husband at his law firm, Adam Ross Littman P.A. The law firm, located in Winter Park, is dedicated to representing victims of personal injury and wrongful death. Littman handles the firm's accounting and administrative functions. When she is not volunteering with the Pavilion or in the office, Sharon can be found putting family first on the soccer field, cheering on 17-year-old Zach, or 15-year-old Alyssa.
The Jewish Pavilion's Gems and Jeans Gala will be held on Sunday, Nov. 3rd at 5 p.m. at the Westin, Lake Mary. Tickets can be purchased through its website or by calling 407-678-9363. For more information about the Jewish Pavilion and the Orlando Senior Help Desk visit http://www.jewishpavilion.org.