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

Jewish Pavilion honors two worthy volunteers at JP Connections


November 29, 2019

Randi Cunningham (l).

The Jewish Pavilion will honor volunteers Randi Cunningham and Myrna Ossin at its JP Connections on Dec. 9, 11 a.m. at the Hilton-Altamonte Springs, located at 350 Northlake Blvd. This event recognizes the many talented people who give their time volunteering at the many assisted living facilities across Central Florida.

Randi Cunningham knows you get more than you give

Randi Cunningham found the mini challah and note card in her father's room while visiting the first week he was living at Oakmonte Village. He had lived in Jewish neighborhoods all his life until now. Cunningham now felt like she was not the only one that would bring her father Jewish culture. She took her father to Sabbath services and met a Jewish Pavilion volunteer conducting the service. She was also introduced to the many events the Jewish Pavilion sponsored in the building and happily brought her father to participate.

Cunningham became a volunteer when her father was transferred to memory care and she began conducting the service there. The importance of maintaining Jewish culture was reinforced as she continued to conduct services and often though no one was paying attention; then people began to sing along with recognition they had not displayed in a long time. She was receiving so much more than she gave.

Since she was able to receive the help she needed, Cunningham decided she would also like to provide help and visit people who do not get many visits, so they could have another face that they could recognize. She has met many people estranged from families and tries being a caring friend. Cunningham wants set an example for her children and grandchildren. She conducts Shabbat in memory care, room visits in assisted living, is on the Friends of the Jewish Pavilion Board and loves her volunteer time.

She also uses her volunteer time as self-improvement time. The patience she practices in memory care makes her a better person for her family.

As a seasoned volunteer for other agencies, Cunningham appreciates the Jewish Pavilion. She believes the Jewish Pavilion is better than other groups because its mission is clearly defined, it is well organized and there is no waste. She is happy to do good in the world. Cunningham also appreciates Nancy Ludin's leadership running the organization efficiently so no money is wasted. Every meeting and event is well planned and purposeful so they can bring Jewish culture and life to seniors.

Cunningham has found joy in learning about so many residents. Harry, a Yiddish speaker similar to her parents, has given her the opportunity to learn Yiddish again. She enjoys getting Jewish culture back in her life. As her parents would say "being around the yiddishkeit."

The woman that describes herself as a crazy cat lady, former crazy middle-school math teacher, former JFS meal delivery volunteer, zumba lover and Jewish Pavilion volunteer asks everyone to support the Jewish Pavilion.

Myrna Ossin shares her talents

The multi-talented Myrna Ossin loves to share her stories with the residents of the five (or more) different assisted living communities she visits through the Jewish Pavilion. Over 10 years of volunteering began when her mother was at Cascade Heights in Longwood. While visiting, she met many of the other residents. Although her mother passed away, Ossin continues to visit her new friends.

Always the teacher, Ossin knows the seniors need mental stimulation and purpose. Her visits include gifts of plants to nurture, she helps write letters and brings other small items requested. Most special are the updates on the plants and their progress.

People need to feel connected to the events they attend. Ossin makes sure people are called by name when attending services. She also shares her love of cooking and baking supplying hamantaschen, latkes, cookies, cakes and more. Ossin also loves sharing her volunteer work with her granddaughter, sometimes taking her to Sabbath services.

Ossin uses her books she has written to start fun conversations. There is a list in the list book of activities seniors can do, even as they age, to earn money, to start a new chapter of their life or just do a purposeful job in the community. "List For Living, Lists For Life," her next book, includes a list is of vintage candies. The seniors remember every one and start to add more candy and stories from their youth. She loves to evoke emotion, create discussion, laugh, cry and create more stories. Ossin also shares the books she is reading through her three book clubs. She also volunteers to dance with seniors that needed a partner and helps with craft projects,

Myrna Ossin (center)

Be an example for your children is part of Ossin's philosophy. Your children don't necessary listen to what you tell them but they watch everything you do. Her daughter once asked her why she volunteers without getting recognition. She told her she had made a commitment to make a contribution to the community at large, the Jewish community and the school system. Ossin has done each one successfully over the years.

Ossin thinks the Jewish Pavilion is a marvelous support for the Jewish community. She admires Nancy Ludin for keeping the charity going for all of these years. The Sabbath service programs are spectacular and the placement of volunteers is well coordinated.

Ossin says she will continue to volunteer until she can't drive anymore or just can't any more.

Join us in celebrating Myrna Ossin and Randi Cunningham and over 10 years of service to the Jewish Pavilion at JP Connections at the Hilton-Altamonte Springs on Dec. 9, at 11 a.m. Register online at https://jpav.ticketspice.com/jp-connections-2019 or call 407-678-9363 to make your reservation to share time with friends and shop, shop, shop.


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