HAMILTON — Hamilton’s Negev dinner this year honoured Shalom Village, a non-profit organization that provides services for older adults.
Pat Morden, CEO of Shalom Village
The Jewish National Fund annually honours those who have made a difference in their community while it raises funds for worthy projects locally and in Israel. Although the honorees are most often individuals, Shalom Village is a worthy recipient of this recognition for the difference it makes in people’s lives.
The event, which took place at the Hamilton Convention Centre June 15, was hosted by comic actor and director Eugene Levy, a longtime friend and supporter of Shalom Village, and Rick Mercer, host of The Rick Mercer Report on CBC television.
Funds raised went to the expansion and improvement of a senior citizens park promenade in Kiryat Eliezer, a neighbourhood of Haifa. The existing promenade is popular but inadequate for the local seniors and will be upgraded, landscaped and equipped with park benches and picnic tables.
The funds will also go to the Shalom Village Possibilities Fund, to provide the resources and staff to help people get on with their lives when they move to the residence.
Shalom Village was created by people who really wanted to be sure that as their mothers and fathers aged, they could still be actively part of the community and get the support they needed to get on with their lives, chief executive officer, Pat Morden, said.
“We do everything we can to bring the community here and for us to go to the community,” she said. “Our mission is also to help people feel at home here.”
Shalom Village is an upbeat, busy home to more than 200 people and a home away from home to many more. Its services include 124 long-term care suites and 81 assisted living apartments; Goldie’s Place, a day program for people with cognitive and physical impairments; and a health club, a well-equipped fitness centre for people over 70.
“Our health club is great for people who don’t want to be in the day program but want to have a connection to Shalom Village,” Morden said. “They come, work out and stay for lunch at Bubbi Bessie’s Café.”
In addition, the organization’s convalescent care includes the Shalom2Home, which helps prepare people to return home after a stay in the hospital.
Shalom Village is affiliated with the McMaster University faculty of health sciences, and Morden said it is seen as a top provider of long-term care services in Hamilton. Its services also include palliative care, a movie theatre, a corner store, a hair salon and a woodshop where many residents have learned new skills and created beautiful objects.
It also reaches out in other ways. “We have the only kosher fine dining in Hamilton because we want people to see Shalom Village as a place they can come as part of the community,” Morden said. “Our mission is to help people feel at home here, and for Shalom Village to be a part of the larger community.”
Shalom Village asked Jewish groups in Hamilton if they would sponsor services in its synagogue. Once a month, with the help of volunteers, they set up for a Saturday kiddush. The sponsors help bring the residents and their families to the services, which are always packed. Children who are preparing for a bar or bat mitzvah have a chance to practise, and many get the opportunity to participate in services with their grandparents.
The 280 staff members at Shalom Village come from different backgrounds – only three are Jewish – but they are aware that they work in a Jewish organization.
“Each week we start our management meeting with a parshah,” Morden said. “One person is responsible for discussing that week’s parshah and its implications for their leadership.”
The staff can consult with the organization’s Rabbi Aaron Selevan to help prepare their parshah.
There is also a pastoral care committee for Christian residents, and church services run by a group of volunteers. Rabbi Selevan co-ordinates these services because he is in charge of all spiritual activities.
“When our Christian residents are sick and dying, or even if a resident just needs to talk, they often look to Rabbi Selevan for spiritual guidance,” Morden said.
For the Possibilities Fund that benefits from this year’s Negev dinner, there are wheelbarrows sprinkled throughout the courtyards and balconies of Shalom Village, filled with flowers planted by the residents. The centre thus brings the garden to the residents when they can’t go to the garden, as a symbol of the possibilities that can be realized.