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As we begin 2014, a few reflections on 2013

Posted: January 1, 2014

It’s hard to do an end-of-year retrospective when so much happened and it’s a worry that you’ll leave something or someone out.  Unless I write a tome, it’s inevitable in fact.  Here are some of the categories of highlights:

  • Recognition.  JCHE is on the map!  We got awards for Ken Crowley (best maintenance manager), Francine Godfrey (international humanitarian), Feelie Hearts Program of our Generations Together; named Communities of Quality for Golda, Shillman and Coleman Houses—with Shillman getting an extra distinction as The Exemplary Elder Housing in New England; we got asked to join the boards of LeadingAge Massachusetts, Citizens Housing and Planning Association and Association of Jewish Aging Services; our Facebook class made front page of the G section of the Globe and we got a mention in their Sunday magazine section on baby boomer aging; we made conference presentations at all the major national conferences and the 2 big statewide ones in our field; 2 delegations of very high level officials from China visited our Brighton campus to learn about affordable housing, nonprofit management and on-site services.
  • Outreach.  We hosted, in partnership with Rogerson Communities, a City-wide affordable housing forum for the 2 Boston mayoral candidates, just 5 days before the election.  We filled the JCHE Brighton auditorium with JCHE tenants, those from several Rogerson communities who arrived by specially-charted buses and invited tenants from the BHA development next door and tenants from Bnai Brith’s Covenant House. Each candidate spoke and answered questions—every remark and response was translated into Russian, Mandarin, Cantonese and Spanish for maximum access.  Mayor-Elect Walsh pledged to make this forum an annual event during his term as mayor.  We also had lovely visits from State Senator Brownsberger, City Councillor Ciommo and Newton Mayor Setti Warren during various holiday celebrations.
  • Celebrations.  We continue to celebrate a range of holidays, sharing our cultural heritages and honoring each other’s traditions:  Chinese new year, Purim, Passover, Independence Day (particularly noting the new citizens amongst us), August Moon Festival, Rosh Hashannah, Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving—right on our annual cycle.  As a staff team, we had a wonderful summer picnic and December holiday extravaganza.
  • Programs.  We got a special grant to train our whole staff on the Alzheimer’s Association method for handling people with dementia and we accomplished that; we added additional services to support people at home by offering 15-minute increments at Shillman House nad Chinese-speaking home care workers at Brighton; we simulcast an arthritis exercise class at Shillman and in Dnepropretrovsk; we had Art Matters to share appreciation for the world’s masterpieces; we had special field trips to art museums and the symphony.
  • Real estate.  We closed a very major loan to modernize Ulin House and capture some of the increased property value amassed over its 40 years; we prepared a proposal to the Boston Redevelopment Authority to expand the Brighton campus—aided and abetted by an Enterprise Foundation grant early in the year that supported a design competition for conceptual designs for the site; Enterprise sponsored a green charrette and an accessibility one to broaden their and our understanding of green/accessible design; we started designing a modernization plan for Genesis House so we can complete the updating of the 3 Brighton properties; we updated systems and common spaces and installed energy-efficiency equipment across the portfolio.
  • Fundraising.  We got our first 7-year gift; we got our first $50,000 gift for our 50th anniversary; we had a hugely successful event, breaking the $500,000 mark; we achieved 100% board participation in the annual campaign; we were an official participant in a growing movement called “Giving Tuesday” and received 9 gifts on the day from people who had either never given to JCHE or had not in many years.
  • Workplace.  We continued our efforts to make JCHE the best workplace on the planet with revised “Core Principles” as shared goals to which we aspire in our interactions; we had a successful “passport” program to allow staff members to learn about each other’s responsibilities and on-the-ground challenges; we had staff listening sessions and a survey to hear everyone’s voice and learned that we are on the right path towards mutual respect and mutual accountability; we had learning sessions at all-staff meetings to gain important information about our practice; we established a Community of Practice for supervisors to engage in ongoing reflection on our management practices.
  • Strategic planning.  We conducted an engaging and extensive strategic planning process with outside speakers, board and staff research and collective exploration of the JCHE of the future.  We have agreed on a focus on aging in community as the first choice for successful aging and have identified ways to advance this agenda on the ground and as thought leaders.  We will spend time in 2014 determining implementation approaches.

And these are only our highlights!  Come visit us to learn more…………….

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