When 99-year-old Min Katz learned that there are many senior citizens who are not fortunate enough to live as comfortably as she does in her retirement home, she decided she wanted to do something to help.
“I was at Sunnybrook Hospital and picked up a little brochure… There was an article about health, and there was an elderly man sitting at his kitchen table. He had very little money and he was debating whether he should spend the money on food for his sick wife or for her medication,” Katz told The CJN from her apartment at Revera’s Forest Hill Place retirement home.
“I thought, this shouldn’t be.”
She said when she spoke to a doctor at a geriatric clinic about the brochure, she was told about a non-profit organization called SPRINT, that works to support seniors and their caregivers to help them live independently and comfortably for as long as possible.
Katz got in touch with Stacey Landau, SPRINT’s executive director, to ask her how she could help.
“My thinking was this: I’m in the comfortable Forest Hill Place on Castlefield [Avenue], and we have our comforts and we are very fortunate. And it would be wonderful to share with people who don’t have what we have,” she said.
She said after considering a number of ideas, they settled on raising funds through a jewelry sale – something Katz has previous experience with.
In past years, Katz collected unused costume jewelry from friends and family and held jewelry sales to raise money for an organization founded by her brother and sister-in-law called Lisa Brown Charity Foundation, named after her late niece, which raised money to educate children at a young age about mental health and suicide prevention.
Through an initiative called “We Care – Aging Together,” Katz started collecting unused costume jewelry early last summer, and with the help of Revera staff, family and friends, held a fundraising sale late last month at the home.
Although Katz has been holding jewelry sales at Revera since 2011, this is the first year that the proceeds from the sale will benefit SPRINT.
Revera has generously agreed to match all funds raised by the sale.
Arei Bierstock, Katz’s daughter, praised her mother for taking the initiative to give back to those in need.
“My mother, I think, is extraordinary for doing this. She is just an extraordinary woman overall. She has great compassion for other people, she’s thoughtful and very, very smart,” Bierstock said.
“One of the exciting characteristics of the sale is that no expenses are taken out and it’s win-win for everyone. For the people who are donating, they are getting rid of the things that are cluttering their drawers and they don’t want anymore, and they also know that the funds from the sale of the jewelry are going to assist other people. For the people who are buying, they are getting something at a great price and are giving to charity when they do that.”
Katz said she hopes the jewelry sale will continue year after year, and that the idea will spread to other Revera retirement homes throughout the country.
“This is also a way of helping residents get involved. One of the things that has been really important in elderly people’s lives is a sense of purpose and giving back. That has been such a motivator for mom. I’m really proud of her,” Bierstock said.