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Looking Back at 2014...

Posted: December 29, 2014

Reflections on 2014……….

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. Some highlights:

  • In January, we were able, in style, to thank Merle Grandberg for her 4 years as an excellent board chair and to install Bernard Kaplan to begin his term.  Congressman Joe Kennedy keynoted the festivities as our board members, staff, residents and supportive community members celebrated this transition.
  • In February, we had a major flood at Ulin House that forced the relocation of many residents for as long as a week.  The silver lining: the staff at JCHE rallied in a way that demonstrated the depth of commitment, sensitivity and effectiveness that uniquely defines JCHE.
  • In March, JCHE had excellent representation at the national American Society on Aging conference, where we both advanced our aging in community model and shared our work to support residents with dementia.  I also had the privilege of accompanying Helen and Rudy Kass as they received the national Trustees of the Year award from the Association of Jewish Aging Services. 
  • In April, each of our sites held a multi-cultural, multi-lingual seder for Passover.  At each, we celebrated the universality of the quest for freedom.
  • In May, we hosted a delegation from Haifa—Boston’s sister city.  We presented to the group about housing finance AND the history of Jews in Mattapan.  Later, we dined at Golda Meir House, where several residents joined and shared their stories.
  • We completed and unanimously endorsed our strategic plan, representing over a year of thoughtful, engaged work!  It both articulates our special strengths and outlines goals and vision for our future.
  • We began the month of June with a record-breaking, feel-good-all-around gala honoring Wendy and Dan Kraft and generating all sorts of excitement about our mission in the broader community.
  • In the summer, we held our “mystery party” for staff members who had completed our internal passport program—meaning they had job shadowed colleagues from at least 3 other departments, learning about their workload, accomplishments and challenges.  Since 40 people participated, we were able to advance our internal cultural imperative of mutual respect, mutual accountability.  The board also held a special visioning session at the Danforth Museum.
  • In September, we attended the release of the Harvard University report on Housing America’s Older Adults in Washington, D.C. and were cited as a national best practice.  We hosted a high-level delegation from China and we hosted a press conference with Mayor Martin Walsh as we cut the ribbon on our strategic partnership with Central Boston Elder Services.
  • In October, we hosted an inspiring and friend-and-fund-raising night of shopping for a cause!  I was invited to represent the entire non-profit affordable housing industry at Mayor Walsh’s press conference to release his housing plan!  We had a strong presence at the national LeadingAge conference as well. Coleman celebrated its 30th birthday with a spectacular party filled with good and nostalgic food, music and dancing.  I was published in The Boston Globe and JCHE was featured in The Washington Post.
  • In November, we had warm, loving Thanksgiving celebrations at our sites.  Golda had a special reception to celebrate being named Exemplary Elderly Community of New England by the New England Affordable Housing Management Association—it was well-attended and reflected beautifully on the warmth of the community there.
  • In December, I was asked to participate in a roundtable at the national Bipartisan Policy Center, reflecting the recognition we’re receiving as a national model for aging in community.  I returned to DC two weeks later to participate in a special HUD kitchen cabinet to plan for the future of senior housing and services.  We are on the radar screen!

This very brief set of highlights illustrates the depth of our activities and significance in the community. 2015 is our 50th anniversary year, and the highlights alone will fill pages—don’t miss it!

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