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State Treasurer, Newton Mayor Headline Celebration of New Board Chair Appointment

Posted: January 28, 2018

On Sunday, January 28, JCHE celebrated the appointment of its new board chair, Donna Kalikow. A lifelong Jewish community advocate, activist and volunteer, she has served on the JCHE Policy Board since 2012 as treasurer. Her term as chair follows that of Bernard E. Kaplan, who has held the position since 2014.

Ms. Kalikow is taking over as board chair at a critical time for JCHE. As the issues of senior loneliness and the shortage of affordable senior housing in the Commonwealth gain significant media attention, JCHE is at the forefront of pioneering affordable communities that celebrate senior life and the connection and purpose it can bring. Additionally, in the next few years, JCHE will build new apartment buildings in Brighton and Newton, and for the first time, in Brookline.

MA State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg and Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller joined JCHE staff, residents, board members, and supporters for the festive occasion at JCHE’s Coleman House in Newton. As the event’s keynote speakers, they both emphasized the importance of JCHE’s affordable and supportive senior housing model.

“My mission as mayor,” Fuller said, “is to make Newton better than ever for raising a family, building a life and enjoying our senior years. Having spent time at JCHE’s Coleman and Golda Meir Houses in Newton, I know that we can fulfill that dream only if we have great places like this for our seniors to age in community.” 

Treasurer Goldberg told of her very personal connection to JCHE. Her husband’s parents, who had immigrated from Palestine, were able to access affordable housing at JCHE’s Brighton campus. “When my mother-in-law had her first massive heart attack, the lifeline at JCHE is what saved her.” She praised the aging in community model as contributing to “longer lives, improved immune system function, and lower rates of dementia.” She also cited that “JCHE is such an excellent provider of support that the average age of leaving JCHE for a nursing home is 88, while the average for senior housing in Massachusetts is 81.”

The issue of “loneliness” and its accompanying debilitating health effects was clearly on the minds of outgoing board chair Bernie Kaplan and new chair Donna Kalikow.

Kaplan gave a rousing close to his remarks: “Is dignity defined as living at home alone, in isolation and loneliness, where your best friend becomes your paid caregiver?  Or is dignity defined as thriving in a community, aging with your peers and participating in social events and classes, plus support services so life is not a struggle but a joy? JCHE enables independence and dignity!”

New board chair Kalikow said she was optimistic that “our mission and presence is more relevant than ever,” followed by a list of goals for JCHE during her tenure:  Adding more affordable housing; boosting  services to keep our residents healthy and in their apartments longer; addressing how technology can elevate the well-being of residents; inviting our “senior neighbors” into JCHE’s communities; shifting the paradigm of “aging in place” to “aging in community” by partnering with the healthcare industry, all levels of government, and the business community, and, finally, celebrating our Jewish values.

The audience of over 100 was clearly moved by Kalikow’s closing remark: “Golda Meir once said, ‘Old age is like a plane flying through a storm. Once you’re on board, there’s nothing you can do.’ On some level, she is right, but at JCHE you can chart your own journey at age 70, 80, 90 or greater…and have company on the way.”

The event’s program also included a welcome from Coleman House resident Connie Rubin, a prayer led by Coleman House resident Phil Schwartz, and closing remarks by Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP) President Barry Shrage.

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Donna Kalikow previously served as executive director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School, and as associate director of the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative at the Harvard School of Public Health. As former Chair of Brookline’s Board of Selectmen, Donna led the effort to approve and build a senior center serving over 8,000 seniors.

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Outgoing Board Chair Bernie Kaplan with JCHE President & CEO Amy Schectman

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Bernie Kaplan and Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP) President Barry Shrage 

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MA State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg (left) and Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller (right)

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New Board Chair Donna Kalikow and Coleman House resident Phil

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