It’s Purim! Often people say, a little bit tongue in cheek, that every Jewish holiday can be summed up by: “they wanted to destroy us, we fought back and won, now let’s eat.”
Read more … Happy Purim!
Mayor Walsh’s first State of the City address was impressive on so many fronts. Listening live, you couldn’t miss his sincerity and commitment to every single person in the City.
Read more … Bravo Mayor Walsh!
The close of a calendar year brings an opportunity to reflect on the past 12 months. It’s been a time of accomplishments and challenges, with meaningful learning opportunities along the way.
Read more … Looking Back at 2014...
It’s hard to imagine saying anything new or especially meaningful about the death of Mayor Menino since there’s been a flood of articles, blog posts and Facebook entries since the news of his passing.
Read more … Rest in Peace, Mayor Menino
Judaism has long embraced the importance of “l’dor vador”—from generation to generation, we transmit our values and our wisdom.
Read more … Convergence of Messages
Friday was the last day that Elizabeth Reiss worked at Coleman House as our Resident Service Coordinator (RSC). Read the poem written by a Coleman resident that beautifully captures Elizabeth and the special role of JCHE's RSCs.
Read more … Ode to Elizabeth Reiss
The holiday of Shavuot is a good time to notice how closely connected the mission of JCHE is to Jewish observance and values.
Read more … Shavuot
What an honor to be invited to speak at the meeting of the AARP national policy council. As you might expect, the room was filled with highly-intelligent, fully-committed professionals with a deep understanding of the issues facing the nation’s older adults.
Read more … Speaking at the AARP National Policy Council
Passover is a rich holiday and has always been my favorite. This year, as I was preparing the Haggadah supplement by reading through 10 or more different Haggadot I’ve bought over the years, I found many interesting readings. The one I want to share now is the notion that Passover is the ultimate exercise in moral optimism. It reminded me of Martin Luther King’s observation that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.
Read more … Discovering the moral optimism inherent in Passover
Much was made earlier this year when Thanksgiving and Hanukah coincided. Just this week, the holiday of St. Patrick’s Day and Purim fell together—and in Boston, St. Patrick’s Day is a very big holiday. At JCHE, Purim is the occasion for serious celebration.
Read more … Holidays Coincide
I just came from the American Society on Aging annual conference. One thing almost everyone in the field agrees on is that senior housing is an extremely efficient and effective platform for delivery of services to older adults.
Read more … Making a Business Case for Senior Housing
Today I attended the funeral of Rabbi Joseph Ehrenkranz in Stamford, Connecticut, where I grew up. Rabbi Joe, as he liked to be known, lived life as if every day and every encounter mattered. And to him, it did. I learned so much from this very wise and very zestful man, but today a few rememberances stood out.
Read more … Thank you, Rabbi Joe
Guest blogger CFO Karen Edlund shares thoughts on her second day in Haifa focusing on housing and urban renewal issues. There is a push to expand the stock of affordable housing, as well as many grass roots efforts to make neighborhoods safer and more vital. A priority in northern Israel is to fortify existing buildings from earthquakes and bombings.
Read more … Housing and urban renewal in Haifa - part 2
JCHE's CFO Karen Edlund is our guest blogger, sharing accounts from her two days in Haifa as part of the JCRC social justice exchange. Haifa, which has been designated as Boston's sister city, is in the process of developing their port and many of their neighborhoods. Enjoy part 1 as Karen visits Ethiopian and Arab neighborhoods.
Read more … Karen Edlund reports on housing and urban development in Haifa
This weekend was one of those not-so-great ones. On Saturday morning a pipe burst on the 2nd floor of Ulin House, causing flooding in some apartments and in many of our common areas... Here’s the silver lining—JCHE staff from all departments rallied in response.
Read more … Community Amongst Staff
JCHE had an amazingly successful and even inspiring annual meeting Sunday. Both Newton Mayor Setti Warren and Congressman Joe Kennedy came not only to give greetings, but to listen to our proceedings and to share in our vision ofaging in community.
Read more … Elected Officials Who Care About Aging in Community
I attended Mayor Walsh’s inauguration today and it was lovely in so many ways—it felt inclusive, celebratory and purposeful. I was especially impressed with his focus on senior issues—right from the start of his administration, he’s talking about the importance of supporting our City’s older adults.
Read more … Mayor Walsh Recognizes Seniors in Inaugural Address
A few last thoughts about 2013... 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:
Read more … As we begin 2014, a few reflections on 2013
It’s been particularly wonderful to have a week or two with so many public reflections on, and appreciation of, the life of Nelson Mandela. He is the quintessential example of strength, patience and wisdom. There are so many fantastic writings and speeches, but I picked one for this blog entry.
Read more … Respect for our elders
Tonight I am sharing the congratulatory letter I sent to Mayor Walsh. Last week both candidates took time to visit with seniors from our buildings and from Rogerson House at JCHE. Both were fine candidates with genuine interest in the needs of Boston's seniors, and both
Read more … Congratulations Mayor Walsh!
Sometimes we forget to appreciate the intensity of our relationship with colleagues. We see each other five days a week and deeply share professional goals and accomplishments as well as typically check in on our personal lives.
Read more … Camaraderie at Work
I was so pleased to attend the Mayor's Elder and Disabled Housing Service Coordinator Committee today. Honestly, when I saw the invitation to participate, I imagined a large crowd and a staff briefing on all the things the City is doing for seniors. I was utterly delighted to walk into a room with a table that seated maybe 15 people and to find Mayor Menino himself there to lead the meeting with a genuine interest in learning and brainstorming!
Read more … Meeting with the Mayor to improve senior housing in Boston
This year we formed a “community of practice” for all JCHE staff who supervise people. This is a diverse group—from maintenance to kitchen to social work to accounting folks; people who supervise one part-time person to people who supervise close to 50; people with extensive executive training to people who excelled in their substantive area and grew from there.
Read more … Excellence in Supervision as an Objective
This week I attended the first of a series of trainings that are open to all JCHE staff. Because of a generous innovations grant from LeadingAge, we are testing out the “habilitation therapy” model that was developed for helping people in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, to see how it can apply to a housing setting and to help tweak it so it fits well for housing.
Read more … Training in Dealing with Alzheimer’s
I am just leaving a national board retreat for the Association of Jewish Aging Services. I was flattered to be asked to join the board of this forward-thinking, activist organization. At this retreat, among other things we struggled with a definition of “Jewish values” as it applies to our collective agencies. Many of us have significant or even majority non-Jewish residents and all of us are open without reservation or preference to people of all faiths. Yet we have a strong consensus that we are all defined by “Jewish values”.
Read more … Defining “Jewish values” for senior care
Today's Boston Globe had a front-page article on cuts to the Section 8 voucher program and how those are harming many low-income people in Massachusetts. For the time being, HUD has chosen to make the mandatory sequestration cuts to mobile vouchers—those that travel with the person rather than the property—rather than the project-based vouchers (which are tied to specific properties) upon which JCHE depends.
Read more … Sequestration impacts the state's housing voucher program
Over the past few weeks, board and staff members at JCHE have had the pleasure of hearing folks from outside organizations talk about their own growth trajectories. In one case, the organization grew from caring for one segment of the population (Holocaust survivors) to broadly serving the seniors of New York City with senior centers, internet technology and home care services. In the other case, the organization tore down traditional nursing homes (declaring them “islands of misery”) and built apartments-for-life which support a very broad range of elders (from those needing no support at all to those requiring nursing home-level care).
Read more … Reflecting on Possibilities
This last week has been a whirlwind of inspiration, conversation and engagement as we hosted Dr. Hans Becker from the Netherlands. Overwhelmingly what I took was the importance of simplicity of purpose.
Read more … Striving for Simplicity
This coming weekend, Dr. Hans Becker from Rotterdam, The Netherlands is visiting JCHE to talk about his bold experiment of creating a new form of elder care. His “apartments for life” are “age-proof” meaning they are physically suitable for any material limitations created by an aging body.
Read more … The Importance of Constant Renewal
Every year, about a week or so before Passover, I say “this is absolutely the very last year I will change my kitchen over for Passover—it’s too much work, I hate cleaning in general and this one is over the top, and it’s all symbolic anyway so why not pick an easier symbol?”—and so I begin the process.
Read more … Cleaning for Passover
Interestingly, almost every week we deal with two very different ends of the decision-making spectrum relative to senior housing. On the one hand, people call us who are either not on our waiting list or very recently joined, to beg, plead and try to cajole a unit from us. They need a unit now (sometimes they give us a week or two) and they want it quite badly. On the other hand, the folks that get the call that they’ve finally made it to the top of the list, more often than not, say they are not ready and to put their name back at the bottom.
Read more … Decision-making around senior housing
Mark Shriver, son of the late Eunice and Sargeant Shriver, came to AJAS to talk about the book he wrote about his father—not about his myriad accomplishments which are well documented elsewhere, but about his goodness and his 10-years of suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Read more … Mark Shriver at AJAS Conference
The keynote address at this year’s annual Association of Jewish Aging Services conference was Rabbi Naomi Levy. She started by saying that our agencies’ services are a gift to those elders who might otherwise feel alone, isolated and bitter. She cited two Torah portions that illustrate the importance of work to care for seniors.
Read more … Inspiration at AJAS Conference
Last weekend it was Purim, a joyous holiday of celebration. While its roots are historical, the modern observance is characterized by frivolity, laughter and free expression of happiness. There are many ways to celebrate, but I especially love two Purim customs.
Read more … Feasting, Rejoicing and Sharing
JCHE has long been known as a leader in providing respectful, dignified communities for the seniors in our community. We have recently received high-level recognition for the high quality and effectiveness of our work. With all our communities full for now, some experience with a new model at Shillman under our belt and an awareness that the population we want to serve is growing and changing, this is an ideal juncture to reflect on how we want to see ourselves positioned within the array of senior services and housing providers.
Read more … Strategic planning at JCHE 2013
According to various internet sources, the 2013 year of the snake is meant for “steady progress and attention to detail. Focus and discipline will be necessary to achieve what you set out to create.” This seems well suited to our tasks ahead—2013 will be the year of the strategic plan for JCHE.
Read more … Year of the Snake
Spent a lovely weekend with a group of families—our annual MLK retreat. Everyone was very interested in what kind of senior housing could make sense for their aging parents—and found JCHE’s statistics and impact very compelling in that regard. The logic of the model works, when discussing it for someone else (even someone as dear as one’s parent).
Read more … Do Baby Boomers need new models for senior housing -- or just more information?
My husband just celebrated his 60th birthday. We have some very dear friends and family members who toasted him and wished him well—but almost always, they included the words “now you are OLD” in their wishes (emphasis added).
Read more … Getting “Old” isn’t so bad!
I had the distinct honor of attending the Coleman House New Year’s Day brunch on New Year’s Day! I can’t imagine a nicer way to start the year. This event was organized by the residents themselves—and boy, do they know how to throw a party!
Click "READ MORE" to see more photos from the event!
Read more … Coleman House Celebrates the New Year!
Last week, high off my 2nd White House visit in two months, JCHE sent out an eblast to over 5000 friends urging them to support the President’s agenda for resolving the fiscal cliff issue as part of a special Leading Age call-in day. I was so taken with the urgency and the message from the President’s key advisors that I moved forward too quickly. It wasn’t until after I had hit send that I realized how the eblast may have read to some as JCHE taking “sides” in the divisiveness that now dominates Washington, and I know that doing so fails to recognize the diversity of JCHE’s supporters.
Read more … Life-Long Learning
Today I was at a very high-level briefing about the potential impact of the fiscal cliff on seniors, thanks to a very gracious invitation because of the White House forum sponsored by the Association of Jewish Aging Services (AJAS) in October.
Read more … White House Call to Action!
OK, I admit I am mostly writing this blog because I wanted to title it this way! JCHE’s work is really being recognized. After a fabulous opportunity to state our case for the efficacy of supportive senior housing just last month, I have been invited to attend a session there on Monday. It’s billed as both a briefing and a discussion for senior service providers and advocates. We will learn about the potential impact of the “fiscal cliff” on senior services.
Read more … Heading out to the White House (again)
This week we have had Thanksgiving celebrations at our communities. When asked to make the welcoming remarks, it occurred to me that Thanksgiving is the holiday which most matches with how I think of JCHE:
Read more … Thanksgiving reminds me of JCHE
For the past 2 years, when someone questions me about whether JCHE is a Jewish organization, often meaning do we exclude non-Jews, I respond: “JCHE ‘s foundation is Jewish values and we serve all who come to our door.” This has been JCHE’s policy from the start. So it was special to have this message this weekend when I attended Kehillath Israel and heard Rabbi William Hamilton’s sermon.
Read more … A Jewish Organization is a Welcoming Organization
Last week, a beautiful memorial was held at Coleman House. The family of Gert Cohen, who lived at Coleman for 22 years, honored the memory of their mother/grandmother/cherished family member by creating a garden in the Coleman courtyard. Gert was 100 when she passed away earlier this year. Here are the comments that Gert's daughter Ann Marchette shared at the dedication.
Read more … GUEST BLOG: The Dedication of Gert's Garden
In preparing to speak effectively for the JCHE community, I have been going from site to site to meet with residents and staff about what they’d like me to say. I’ll be posting about many things I’ve learned, but some of the residents’ stories were immediately compelling. Today's post comes from a meeting I had with six residents of Golda Meir House.
Read more … Countdown to White House—Residents of Golda Speak
We were thrilled that the International Association of Housing and Ageing Services, in cooperation with LeadingAge, chose to have JCHE as the first stop on their “affordable housing with services” study tour. Although they allocated 5½ hours to us and we decided to limit their visit to only our Brighton properties, we ran out of time before we could cover the depth of our program!
Read more … Hosting an International Housing Study Tour
A heady week—an invitation to lead a panel on senior housing at the White House! This is surely a very visible recognition of JCHE as a site demonstrating best practices in the industry. The timing makes sense.
Read more … White House Countdown
Thomas L. Friedman got it right in his excellent article in July 29’s New York Times Coming Soon: The Big-Trade Off. The reality of a rapidly aging population in the U.S. will have major repercussions for our society. He speaks about the impact on foreign aid. At Jewish Community Housing for the Elderly, on a daily basis we think about its impact on the demand for our services and how our society’s failure to plan will leave many seniors without decent options.
Read more … New York Times Op-Ed Columnist Thomas L. Friedman Got it Right!
“My mother lived happily at Coleman House after my father died. Once she passed, I knew I couldn’t do anything anymore to help her—so I resolved to do something to help other people’s mothers and grandmothers. That’s why I donated the money to build Shillman House.” So began Dr. Bob’s introduction of himself to the residents of Shillman House. They applauded.
Read more … Shillman on Shillman: New Senior Living in Metro West
For about 2 months this spring, my friend Ellen’s parents (Roz and Morris) came up from Florida so that Morris could have surgery in a Boston hospital. Since I adore both Ellen and her parents, I spent time with them. I spoke with them about moving to JCHE’s newest building – Shillman House – which still has a few market-rent apartments available. The timing was not right -- they weren’t ready to consider a move. I thought I’d share the follow-up note I sent to them, given the universal themes.
Read more … Reasons to Leave Florida and Move to Senior Housing in Boston
We are in the “business” of senior housing, and pride ourselves that our residents can live out their full lives in our communities. We believe that they live longer and better because they live in such supportive, loving environments. So when a resident in their late 90’s or 100’s dies, it is “normal” and even represents a small victory.
This week, we lost Pat Cohen who lived at Golda Meir House for many years.
Read more … A Tribute to Pat Cohen
Simon Tucker wrote a forward to a Young Foundation (Great Britain) Report called “One Hundred Not Out: resilience and active ageing” where he outlined a compelling way to look at the challenges and opportunities presented by an aging population. I thought it was so well written that I’d share it rather than paraphrase or comment:
Read more … Unlocking the potential
At Chelsea Jewish Foundation, residents with ALS went skydiving. When I was in the Netherlands last month touring their innovative senior housing, I learned about their "culture of yes." Both of these push us to expand our views of what is possible, and thus expand the good in the world.
Read more … A Culture of YES
Well this week began with the celebration of Shavuot—which has its origins in the grain harvest festival and is celebrated in modern times as the date that the Israelites received the Torah. It is one of the three pilgrimage holidays (Sukkot and Pesach being the other two) and as such very significant religiously. In synagogue, people read the Book of Ruth—a beautiful story of loyalty, lovingkindness and inclusivity.
Read more … A Good Week
Last night was the year-end celebration of the Coleman residents and CJP's Women's Division who have been sewing feelie hearts together weekly. These feelie hearts would appear to the untrained eye to be “no big deal” but then you’d be missing the layers of meaning that the users attach to this quietly powerful gift!
Read more … Feeling the Love from Feelie Hearts
Today visited a center-city senior social housing complex. Social housing is the Dutch term for our subsidized housing—although the financing mechanisms are very different, due to a substantially deeper and wider safety net in the Netherlands.
Read more … Lovely Architecture for Senior Housing in Amsterdam
Had an amazing visit to Humanitas—a Dutch nonprofit serving seniors in an extremely progressive fashion. Rather than think about an array of programs and services to support elders, and therefore hopefully maximize “quality of life”, they focus directly and explicitly on happiness. According to their approach, “care” is secondary.
Read more … Humanitas in Rotterdam Offers Extension of JCHE Model
This morning our first stop was gender-segregated. The women visited the mikvah and the men visited the Sofer Scribal Arts where men are learning to write torahs that will be sent to many countries of the former Soviet Union.
Read more and see some photos of the Mission group!
Read more … Last Day in Dnep—And ½ Day in Vienna
Shabbat has its own rhythm and today it was Shabbat. We were able to sleep in until breakfast at 9:15—how civilized! We then walked to synagogue for a 2 ½ hour service which included the granting of a Hebrew name to one lovely young woman, Lena, on our trip—she is from the Haifa contingent (have a mentioned how wonderful it is to have a Haifa contingent with us? Three extraordinary young people—Dana, Guy and Lena—who add so much spirit and insight.
Read more … A Much Less Eventful Day 4 in Dneprepetrovsk
Well, I won’t describe the day in the order things happened, because I must start with the bombings that took place today. We had split into 6 groups, each in its own van, to do home visits to homebound elders. Our group apparently was the first to head to our meeting place—Chesed, a Jewish community center for elders and special needs children—but as we approached the square just around the corner, we noticed all sorts of activity and excitement—police cars, ambulances, soldiers, crime tape being applied to shoo away pedestrians—and a traffic policeman urgently pushing us to go quickly off the street.
Read more … Day #3—Day of Great Drama in Dneprepetrovsk
UPDATE: Apparently four bombs went off this morning in Dneip. We have been in touch with Amy and she reports that everyone on the delegation is safe. We will share more news as we receive it.
Another great day with an-even-more attractive (only because I’ve gotten to know them better) group of fellow travelers. Everyone is interesting and interested – and it’s easy to get to know one another when seated together at a meal or on the bus.
Read more … Day 2 in Dneprepetrovsk (which felt like Day 2 AND 3)
A new report by the Center for Housing Policy titled “Housing an Aging Population” puts facts to the instincts all of us working on senior issues have—we know we are not adequately preparing for the demographic tsunami. It presents a moral crisis for this country as it demonstrates that we will leave our elders without decent places to live.
Read more … New Report Points to Dramatic Shortages in Senior Housing
HUD commissioned a report to understand some of the factors that allow seniors to age in place and avoid institutional care. Although more research into causality needs to be done, the study found something interesting: Housing occupied primarily by the elderly seems to have greater success retaining residents until more advanced average ages compared to housing occupied primarily by non-elderly people, even in high poverty neighborhoods.”
Read more … Data supporting senior housing
I love to read and do it a lot, which means I have a big basis for comparison for new ones. Well, I read a great one! It’s by Mickey Cail and it’s called “I Hate Bad News” and it’s part memoir, part chronicle of the life and times of the major Jewish community organizations in Boston, and part entreaty to life one’s life with gusto, spirit and a commitment to tikkun olam (repair of the world).
Read more … I read a good book!
Last night I unpacked my Passover dishes (and silverware, cups, pots, etc.). It was both a joyous moment—like seeing old friends again—and one of exhaustion, coming necessarily after the whole cleaning out of the cabinets thing. But as I wash them off and put them away, I can’t help but feel fresh, clean and renewed.
Read more … Rituals and Renewal
Rabbi Brad Hirschfield was the keynote speaker at the Association of Jewish Aging Services (AJAS) Conference. He gave a very powerful exoneration to members to continue the crucial work we’re doing—not only for the people we serve, but for the very dignity of the Jewish people. After all, he argues, it is impossible for any group to be a caring community without a place to care for its elders.
Read more … Message from AJAS Conference: Setting the Standard
We have just finished celebrating the holiday of Purim. It's a good time to remember the people we serve at JCHE and the ones who wish we could serve them, but remain on our waiting list—sometimes for 5 or 6 years.
Read more … Purim
Kudos to the Boston Globe for reporting on a study by Wider Opportunities for Women and UMASS/Boston that showed that “the elderly in Massachusetts struggle with the nation’s largest shortfall between income and costs...” This is not news to anyone working in the field of aging services—we see it every day as we ask 75 year olds to wait 1-6 years for an apartment despite immediate need.
Read more … Elder Poverty
The data is solid: the rise in the 60+ age group is happening now and will continue to increase dramatically. We will be overwhelmed by the number of seniors needing support—financial and physical. What hasn’t followed is a “call to arms” to aggressively plan to handle this demographic tsunami. JCHE takes seriously our role in combating this apathy.
Read more … What Will It Take?
I recently attended a “cultural café” whereby our Chinese residents shared their cultural heritage with all our residents. For over a month, a group of Chinese residents have been planning ways to meaningfully expose the traditions that are part of their lives. They succeeded both in enlightening all of us about the many facets of Chinese culture and in generating appreciation for the beauty of the music, dance and art of China.
Read more … JCHE's multicultural event brings neighbors together to share customs and celebrate
So our beloved Patriots did not win the Super Bowl this year, as we all thought they should. The exciting thing about a sporting event is that regardless of how much information you have, research you do, thinking you put into it—the outcome is very much uncertain.
Read more … The Super Bowl
It’s hard to find much to cheer about with the Florida primaries--or any primaries going on at the moment. However, the one thing that Florida does is bring a focus on seniors. Florida has an abundance of people over 65 and candidates campaigning there must pay attention to the concerns of older Americans.
Read more … Florida
Last week I wrote about a thank-you note that Maxine (Executive Director of Golda Meir House) wrote to Ken (Director of Maintenance for JCHE) for his help in readying Golda for their REAC inspection. Her effusive appreciation for Ken’s help reminded me how important it is to express gratitude to colleagues.
Read more … Love Conquers All (Even in the Workplace)
Tuesday was the day of the dreaded REAC inspection at Golda Meir House.
This is the day when a team of inspectors spends the day in our building checking every door jamb. It’s not a bad concept -- public funded housing should adhere to the highest operational standards. We do. However, the nature of inspectors is to find problems, so they come intent to do that. We recognize the importance of doing well, so we prepare, worry, prepare and repeat the cycle.
Read more … A Little Appreciation Goes a Long Way
I attended an author’s reading by Deborah Frieze at a meeting of the Women’s Philanthropy group of Combined Jewish Philanthropies. The book, Walk Out Walk On, was co-authored by Margaret Wheatley. The talk involved Ms. Frieze’s observations of many social change experiences around the globe. Many of her thoughts resonated as relevant to JCHE’s reorganization and culture change process.
Read more … An author's reading on creating healthy communities resonates with our work at JCHE
JCHE is currently undergoing a very exciting participatory process to determine how we can be the best workplace possible. Examining both our organizational structure and culture, we have engaged in a number of discussions that have focused on leadership. I have been surprised that this has led to some very charged interactions.
Read more … Leadership is an Elusive Concept
In the New York Times’ wonderful piece by Julie Lasky, “On Aging Baby Boomers, and the Question of Where to Live”, architect Wid Chapman and gerontologist Jeffrey P. Rosenfeld discuss their new book. In Unassisted Living: Ageless Homes for Later Life, the co-authors explore the housing desires of baby boomers, beginning with the notion that this generation abhors nursing homes.
Read more … Considering housing for the boomer generation
This post appeared as a Letter to the Editor in the Boston Globe on 11/28/11 in response to an excellent page one piece "State Falls Short on Affordable Housing". It bemoaned the slow pace of producing affordable housing in the Commonwealth. A few months ago, the Globe ran a series of stories on page one, alerting us to the coming demographic tsunami of an aging population. I’d like to connect the dots:
Read more … Boston Globe's look at affordable housing should also address gaps in senior housing
Like many readers of the Boston Globe, I have been dismayed all week to read, daily, about the excessively high salary and dishonesty in reporting by the director of the Chelsea Housing Authority. There's simply nothing positive to be said about the facts. However, I am equally dismayed by the barrage of coverage that the Globe has given to this one instance of abuse—in contrast to the shocking silence about the numerous accomplishments achieved daily by the overwhelmingly hard-working, underpaid and under-resourced housing authorities in Massachusetts.
Read more … An imbalance of media coverage: where are the articles touting the many accomplishments of local housing authorities?
We had the pleasure of hosting a “lunch and learn” session for the Boston Jewish Women’s Community Fund last week. The purpose of these sessions, I was told, was for the women in this giving collaborative, to learn “up close and personal” about one of the places where their generous contributions were making a difference.
Read more … The Women from BJWCF
This weekend I had the privilege of attending the 80th birthday party of my friend, mentor and hero, Tunney Lee. Tunney is not a traditional mentor—I don’t actually recall any words of direct encouragement or praise that in my head I associate with mentorship. But the impact on my life has been profound.
Read more … Tunney turns 80
Yesterday morning, at the national LeadingAge annual conference in D.C., I heard Maya Angelou speak. According to the biography they provided, Dr. Angelou is a celebrated poet, historian, best-selling author, actress, playwright, civil-rights activist, producer and director. Her list of published verse, non-fiction and fiction now includes more than 30 best-selling titles. At the conclusion of her speech, I felt her biography massively understates her power and accomplishments. She quite simply took my breath away.
Read more … Maya Angelou, at 83, quite simply took my breath away
Yesterday morning was a treat – Board member Paul Levy led a discussion of Anne Fadiman’s inspirational book “The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down." Paul had donated multiple copies of the book to JCHE and I gave them out to anyone on the staff who was interested in reading it. The subtitle of the book is very descriptive, “A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures.” The book documents the story of a Hmong child with epilepsy—the doctors at a California hospital who treated her had a care model which was not well understood or accepted by her Hmong parents—and while there were efforts to bridge the cultural divide, they failed. The child went into a long-term coma and remained in that state at the close of the book.
Read more … Considering the challenge of diversity
In last week's post, I reflected on an excellent Enterprise Community Partners institute I attended last week. Affordable housing developers and designers had a respectful and energized discussion on developing quality public housing. Within days of that workshop, the New York Times ran a fascinating article about innovative public housing in the Bronx. Reading about an excellent example of creative and responsive housing development so soon after attending the Enterprise forum prompted me to send The Times the following Letter to the Editor.
Read more … Responding to a New York Times article that got it right
Enterprise Community Partners sponsored their 2nd annual Affordable Housing Design Leadership Institute. The concept is as simple as it is profound—bring together the country’s most talented design professionals with a small group of committed affordable housing developers and learn together in a two-and-a-half day intense workshop how to advance design excellence in affordable housing. To the credit of the Enterprise National Design Initiatives staff, it worked beautifully and I am permanently inspired to think about design in new ways. I was so fortunate to be there.
Read more … Wisdom about affordable housing developed at Enterprise Community Partners conference
They say there is a silver lining to every cloud.
Hurricane Irene brought many clouds and even more wind and rain. It also meant that we lost power at our newest development, Shillman House. It went out on Sunday morning and didn’t return until late Monday evening. An inconvenience for anyone -- and certainly seniors -- especially those who rely on medical devices and other electronics.
Read more … A silver cloud in the dark Irene skies
Last week marked my one-year anniversary of coming to JCHE. It has been an amazing year for me. I continue, every day, to be impressed and amazed at the consistent level of excellence, commitment and talent displayed by our staff.
Read more … Reflections on my one-year anniversary
In the last two days, I toured Senator Scott Brown and a senior staff person for Congressman Capuano through JCHE’s Brighton campus. What do they have in common? Not a lot of shared views on the economy, the role of government in helping its citizens achieve economic security and certainly not on the importance of including new revenues in the solution to the debt ceiling pressures! But both do share an interest in their constituents and in learning from us about the issues and challenges facing seniors today—and how our society can support their efforts to age gracefully.
Read more … It pays to vote
Recently I had the distinct pleasure of reading 2 short stories aloud and participating in a discussion. At Golda Meir House, every year they invite “guests” to read a short story to a gathering of residents. I immediately accepted the invite, figuring they’d assign me a story and I’d go from there. Imagine my surprise when I learned that it was a “BYOS”--bring your own story (actually, bring your own two stories)! Here’s the problem: I don’t read short stories.
Read more … Short stories, long impact
I am pleased to describe last week’s management team meeting as delightful! Yes, you read that correctly: the words “meeting” and “delightful” purposely in the same sentence.
Since I started at JCHE, I have observed that the mid-level managers are eager to contribute to the overall well being of JCHE—even beyond their area of responsibility. In an effort to support this high level of engagement, we have been exploring a different organizational model in one of our departments – fund development. We devoted last week’s meeting to a discussion about this team’s experience.
Read more … Reflective practitioners at JCHE
This week I attended the final Framingham Zoning Board of Appeals hearing about Shillman House. The technical reason we were before the ZBA was the need for their approval of our amended landscaping plan. The original plan, approved before construction began, was amended due to the natural adjustments in the field as projects get built. Some of the changes were also designed to be responsive to neighbors’ ideas about trees, shrubbery and fences to better screen the building’s lights and viewscapes.
Read more … Good trees (and some fencing!) make good neighbors
The 4th of July. Can most of us honestly say we think about it as anything other than a barbeque, fireworks and/or long weekend travel opportunity? I couldn’t—until I attended JCHE’s Independence Day Celebration. As part of our tradition, every year for at this time we recognize and congratulate those residents who have become U.S. citizens since the last fourth of July.
Read more … Celebrating July 4th JCHE style!
Today I attended the 8th grade graduation of my youngest son at the Pierce School in Brookline. That may not sound like a big deal, but because the school is a K-8 one and I have a 10-year spread between my oldest and youngest, not only is my son moving on but I am too!
Read more … Transitions
Well, it finally happened—after a great deal of planning and anticipating, the first set of residents moved into Shillman House this week. It would be dishonest to say it went off without a hitch, but totally truthful to say that the Shillman House team and some JCHE regulars pulled together and made it look seamless.
Read more … Developing community from the ground up
This Sunday’s New York Times contained an article about a geriatric psychiatrist in Miami who works with seniors in a range of residential settings from apartment buildings to nursing homes. The gist of the message was that people who can adapt to setbacks live longer and have higher quality senior years.
Read more … New York Times reinforces the importance of JCHE!
A person with ubuntu is open and available to others. I do not know how many of our residents have heard of ubuntu, but at the recent food and clothing drive, they surely demonstrated it.
Read more … An expression of "ubuntu" at JCHE
I am always happy when different aspects of my life converge in pleasant ways. So last week when I observed a special opening activity for our new program center in Brighton, I was completely joyful.
Read more … Experiencing Joy In Our New Program Center
It’s getting close. Shillman House on the Weinberg Campus is moving along—construction is well over 90% complete (on time, on budget with extraordinary quality—Dellbrook Construction has been wonderful). So I recently spent three Sundays (along with our top notch Shillman team) conducting tours of the building-in-progress for people who have put down reservation deposits for the market units. As always, whenever I interact with residents and/or potential residents, I learn a lot.
Read more … Moving to Shillman House: the decision process
I just hit the 6-month mark in my tenure as CEO of JCHE. I could go on and on about feeling honored, privileged, proud and the like. But I’m reflecting at the moment of how long a process it is to build trust within the organization.
Read more … Building Trust
I’m writing this on the train back from New York, following a recent journey to the Jewish Home at Rockleigh, located in northern New Jersey. The Jewish Home has nursing home and assisted living facilities. The board wanted to educate itself on “independent living” and how it compares to what they do. I was terribly flattered to be asked to offer some insights. And while I have been practicing urban planning with a focus on affordable housing for roughly 30 years, let’s be clear that I was solicited not because of who I am, but rather because of what JCHE is, does and represents in the field.
Read more … On the road, sharing JCHE's experience and expertise with colleagues
Senior prom. For almost all of us, that term evokes memories. Our first formal gown/time in a tuxedo. All night parties with friends. And if we’re being honest, worrying a lot about how we would appear to others, feeling awkwardI in those fancy clothes, and, maybe even some unhealthy behaviors (I said if we’re being honest). Wondering who would be “in” and not in that crowd. Ugh.
Read more … A senior prom unlike any we remember!
Last week, JCHE was pleased to have the opportunity to comment on the 2011 Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP) for the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development, the road map for the state’s allocation of federal tax credits. I am very familiar with the QAP process, as I served as an Associate Director for Public Housing and Rental Assistance at DHCD directly before starting at JCHE. But as I read it this year, I quickly realized that I was evaluating it through a very different lens.
Read more … Public policy around senior housing - the good, the bad and the gaps
Gung Hey Fa Choy. Happy new year. Seems like it shouldn’t be so hard to learn, but it took me literally almost an hour to perfect a few phrases with which to greet the Chinese residents as I attended their new year’s celebration. My 13-year-old son is learning Mandarin at school—he patiently repeated (and repeated) a few phrases so I could say “happy new year” “hello” and “thank you”.
Read more … Celebrating Chinese New Year and the Year of the Rabbit
Sometimes, someone else articulates something simply and clearly that just captures the essence of what you've been trying to say over many weeks with much complicated language. This week that happened when I heard how one of our Golda Meir House residents experienced last week's blizzard:
Read more … Feeling safe even as the storm rages
Last Friday's New York Times, there was an op ed piece by Susan Jacoby entitled “Real Life Among the Old Old”, which presents a sobering view of aging. Ms. Jacoby makes some excellent points, particularly as she urges everyone to plan for their senior years with their eyes wide open. However, I think there’s something in between the denial and resignation she presents. In fact, I witness it on a daily basis.
Read more … JCHE's version of "Real Life Among the Old Old"
Today the House passed the Section 202 housing reform legislation, which had won the Senate’s approval yesterday. We want to extend a hearty thanks to Carol Gallante, the Assistant Secretary of HUD, for her leadership, and AAHSA (American Association of Housing and Services for the Aging) for their advocacy to get to this point. The bill will soon head to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
Read more … Congress approves HUD Section 202 Reform Bill
We just completed four very full days in Framingham. After almost nine years of development challenges, the light at the end of the tunnel is visible and we were feeling the reward—we had the opportunity to meet some of the people who will call Shillman House home as early as June 2011. We had four Shillman House Application Days with 44 staff, board and board committee members on hand to support older adults as they filled out applications for housing.
Read more … Reflecting on Shillman House Application Days
I just returned from a sad trip—I went to Cincinnati to attend a memorial service for an old friend. It’s sad because he was a fine person and, while he was obviously not part of my day-to-day life, I will miss him. I feel a strong sense of loss. It’s also sad because it takes things like Paul’s premature death at age 57 to remind me to celebrate those in my life now.
Read more … The Value of Connection
This time of year (although the length of this time seems to eternally be expanding) we are all asked to contribute to this and that excellent cause. We should give money to feed the hungry, house the homeless, give educational opportunities to those who can’t access them and so on. All of these are great causes and we all feel torn as we can’t possibly support them all to the extent we’d wish.
Read more … Don't you hate to constantly be asked for a contribution?
When we talk about how JCHE builds community, we are usually discussing something intangible. We are referring to the friendships and relationships that are formed in each of our buildings at a time of life often associated with loneliness and isolation. But these days, JCHE is also building the bricks-and-mortar version of community.
Read more … Building community by building community space
Life can be challenging as you get older. Those who live at JCHE don't need to 'go it alone.' They have access to an amazing resource, the JCHE Resident Services Coordinator staff, which provides an invaluable connection to the larger community. And they are clearly one of the many elements that make JCHE the leader in providing a continuum of progressive, proven services that allow aging residents to maintain their well being and independence.
Read more … A Day in The Life of a JCHE Resident Services Coordinator
What does it mean that we have "non-sectarian housing that is informed by Jewish values and traditions?" What I've learned is that JCHE is truly creating an optimum social and cultural environment for older adults of all backgrounds.
Read more … JCHE: non-sectarian housing with a haimish flavor
Question 2, on the ballot this November, would eliminate the state’s key affordable housing law (Chapter 40B). It has been a very successful law, creating 58,000 units of affordable housing since its inception—for teachers, firefighters and seniors. Here at JCHE, we built 146 units at Coleman House and 75 units at Golda Meir House in Newton, and now have 150 units under construction in Framingham. That’s why I’m voting No on Question 2. If the referendum passes and 40B is overturned, it would greatly undermine our ability to develop safe, affordable housing for seniors.
Read more … Protecting Affordable Housing in Massachusetts: Vote No on Question #2
You can tell a lot about a place by looking at the boiler room!
As I walked around JCHE, I was instantly awed by the beautifully maintained properties - the general upkeep, overall cleanliness and extensive landscaping. I thought I had seen all there was to see - and then I stepped into the boiler room.
Read more … You can tell a lot about a place by looking at the boiler room
Welcome to the new JCHE blog, meant to open an ongoing dialogue on issues important to safe, affordable housing opportunities for seniors and their successful aging. This conversation is being launched today in the sincere hope that you will engage with us as JCHE begins its next phase of development.
Read more … Welcome from Amy Schectman