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Presidents Report – AGM 2015

President’s Report – AGM 2015

By Marilyn Berger

How lucky and fortunate can a President be? To say that the past year has been fantabulous in every way is an understatement. Thanks to the amazing people around me, my amazing Executive committee, Board of Directors, all of the subcommittees and the JSA supporters, young and not so young whose love and support  for the Jewish seniors Alliance is always clearly evident, we’ve stepped up to the plate and hit a home run.

We talk about membership in JSA. Who is a member of the Jewish Seniors Alliance? In fact we all are. The work that we do, the advocacy, the peer support, the education, the outreach, the day in and day out work of making the world a better place for seniors is on behalf of each and every Jewish senior throughout all of British Columbia. Through our coalitions with other like-minded groups the work of the Jewish Seniors Alliance represents hundreds of thousands of seniors throughout the Canadian mosaic. The $18 that we call membership is simply your way of showing your support and your acknowledgment of the importance of the work that the JSA does. That support is very much appreciated and needed in order to keep our machine running smoothly. Thank you to Lyle Pullen and Binny Goldman for overseeing the membership portfolio.

Binny in her own special way plays den mother to our JSA family. On top of the simchas and ochs and veys of our JSA Board Binny oversees staying in touch and keeping us all informed of the good and welfare and special needs that our JSA family might require. On top of that the talented Binny can be counted on to write our articles, take our pictures and design spectacularly beautiful cards for all occasions. We urge you to ask the JSA office to send a card on your behalf for any occasion.

A President does not work alone. On assuming the portfolio Serge Haber and Ken Levitt took on the commitment to work with me as a troika – the three of us – like the three Musketeers. You all know that Serge, the force behind JSA could only be an amazing asset to any new President. But did you know that Ken Levitt, JSA’s First Vice President, is an amazing human being? His love of the work of JSA is always in evidence and his attention to detail and getting the job done is something that I have come to count on in everything I do for JSA. He oversees all of the administration and office activities and staff. Without him, the fine tune working of JSA would come to a grinding halt. Ken is generous and gracious in all that he does. He is my right-hand man. Thank you Ken.

And the troika worked with your help.

The hard work and dedication of Gyda Chud and Bev Cooper were very much in evidence at our October, 2014 Fall Symposium entitled “Live, Laugh, Love – Our Mental Health and Wellness”. Plans are already well underway for our 2015 Fall Symposium chaired by Ken Levitt and Larry Shapiro. “– Live Up to the Promise –Now What?” This promises to be an outstanding program. Save the date November 15 at the Peretz Centre.

Thanks to the hard work of Debbie Cossever representing JSA and Claire Weiss, representing L’Chaim Adult Day Centre our 2015 Spring Forum was an amazing success. “YOLO: You Only Live Once”, provided us with the tools to look forward to healthy productive lives as we get older and better.

Gyda Chud so ably stepped in for Shanie Levin when necessary and ensured that the 2014–2015 Snider Empowerment Series continued without a hitch. Elders Empowering Elders “– With a Smile on your Face and a Song in your Heart –“ included programs at the Peretz Centre, Oakridge Senior Centre, the JCC and Kehila in Richmond. How pleased I am that both Gyda and Shanie have taken on this role for the coming year. The Empowerment Series committee is composed of representatives from all of the agencies involved. Look forward to the first program of this season, Yiddish Storytelling, Friday, October 30 at the Peretz Centre.

As if Gyda wasn’t busy enough she served as secretary for not only the JSA Executive and Board of Directors but for each and every committee. And what an amazing job she did – always with a smile on her face. I am confident that our new Board member and secretary Mindy Cofman will continue to do an outstanding job. I look forward to working with you Mindy.

Peer support, a jewel in the JSA crown is thriving. Under the capable chairmanship of Pam Ottem and the fabulous staff of Charles Liebovitch and Grace Hann, our Peer Counselling, friendly visitors, and telephoning roster of qualified volunteers and grateful clients is growing and growing.

Thanks to the generosity of the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program, JSA began the Ambassador program, training and counselling information in the areas of elder abuse. The JSA Peer Support program is recognized throughout British Columbia and serves as a role model and support for other like programs throughout the province.

Not enough accolades could be given to the JSA Senior Line magazine. Although many say that the magazine should only be in an electronic format not a day goes by when someone comes to me and tells me how fabulous it really is and how grateful they are that it is NOT on the computer but in print. Edith Shier, a role model for us all must be commended for her dedication through thick and thin to ensure the success of the magazine. Her unfortunate health setback this year did not stop her for a minute. And Dolores Luber who insists she wants no recognition or credit at all deserves many accolades for her love and commitment to ensuring that the magazine continues to grow, as well as the continued dedicated work she performs for the development of our outstanding JSA website.

Money – makes the world go round. JSA could not achieve our dreams and goals without the hard, unrelenting work of our beloved Serge Haber. Who can ever thank Serge enough for his constant and successful search for the funds that are necessary to maintain the JSA vision for the future. After all, as all of us baby boomers are destined to live to 120 thriving, the task ahead is great. A hardy todah raba goes to all of the individual families, foundations and donors who have supported us and continue to support us.

With his driving vision for JSA’s future and with the assistance of our Vice President Rita Roling, this year JSA has not only received grants from New Horizons enabling our Ambassador Program but thanks to New Horizons JSA was finally able to purchase audio and visual equipment so that we could present programs in such a way that the audience could see and hear all that was being presented. Much thanks goes to Stan Shear and his committee for spending countless hours purchasing equipment that we will all benefit from.

JSA is grateful for grants received from the Provincial Gaming Commission, and for the first time a grant from the City of Vancouver. Of course we count on our partnership and continued support from the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver. This year, thanks to a successful campaign, and in recognition of the important work that we do for the community, the Federation increased our base allocation and for that we are much appreciative. So I urge you to all support this year’s Federation campaign so that next year we will get even more allocated.

And who is the amazing person who has handled the coming and going of this funding? Milton Adelson has been Treasurer of JSA for many years. He has done an outstanding job for us, and although he is stepping down from this duty, will still be an active board member.

JSA has been blessed by the addition of two new Larry’s.

Larry Meyer, newly inducted as treasurer, has already taken on the massive job of understanding our books and finances. Larry, I look forward to working with you, beginning  right now.

Larry Shapiro, immediately demonstrated his excellent ability. On arrival he became actively involved in several committees and is already co-chair of the 2015 Fall Symposium. He and Barbara Bronstein have co-chaired the dinner and social event to follow this meeting. Much thanks to both of you from all of us.

Karon Shear, the JSA coordinator and office administrator is more than a simple office worker. The chief cook and bottle washer for JSA she is counted on for ideas, her knowledge of the community, and her grasp of our committees. She and her assistant Rita Propp are two very brave ladies at the forefront of every mishigus that happens on a day-to-day basis. They can be counted on to fulfill the demands of the JSA Board with competence and good grace.

I look forward to the 2015–2016 year. As you can see with all of the support around me and with the addition of several very talented Board members JSA is continuing to thrive. Our issues will not go away. They will only become more interesting, diverse and complicated.

A word about the upcoming Federal election.  JSA is a non-partisan organization.  We will not tell you which party to vote for but we will tell you to meet your candidates, don’t be afraid to ask questions, especially when they come to the issues of health and well-being of seniors. And of course because we are blessed to live in a democracy – vote.

I want to take this opportunity to thank my husband Marshall for appreciating and supporting the work that I do and the time that I take to do it as well as my family and friends for putting up with me through thick and thin

In Pirkei Avot Rabbi Tarfon taught:

The day is short; the task is great the workers indolent, the reward bountiful and the Master insistant!!

As we enter the High Holiday season of 5776, let’s dedicate ourselves once again to moving from strength to strength in making our world and the senior world a better place for all.  May we all be inscribed for a year of good health, prosperity, happiness in a world of peace.