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July 13, 2018     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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July 13, 2018

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PAGE 2A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JULY 13, 2018 Shirley Schoenberger with Brookdale Island Lake resident Jack Levitt, who celebrated his lOOth birthday in March. By Lisa Levine Whenever Shirley Schoen- berger visits, the room always gets a little warmer. That's because Schoenberger, an active Jewish Pavilion volun- teer for more than four years, brings with her awonderfully upbeat attitude and a warm and caring way wherever she goes. "Shirley is a ray of sunshine. She is so warm and friendly. Her smile is contagious," said Nancy Ludin, executive direc- tor of The Jewish Pavilion. Schoenberger helps with the weekly Shabbat services at Brookdale Island Lake in Longwood, greeting and chat- ting with residents as they enter and passing out challah and wine before the blessings during the service. She usu- ally comes early or stays late so she has plenty of time to talk with people one on one, catching up with family news or just letting them talk about whatever's on their mind. "They're very open, and they're eager to share ex- periences-and sometimes things that they can't even tell their family," said Schoen- berger. "So I become like their surrogate family." She also makes regular individual visits to a few of the residents at Savannah Court in Mai- tland, having formed close relationships with them over the years. It's clear from the way the residents react when they see her that her friendship is highly valued. On a recent mid-week visit to Island Lake, Schoenberger sat on a sofa in an area across from the dining room, and friend after friend came over to greet her with a hug. And, of course, they stayed for a chat. The chatting is an im- portant part of her work as a volunteer, and it's clearly something that Schoenberger enjoys. At the weekly Island Lake services, she also likes to bring a"treat" each week--- sometimes homemade. At those services, she's known as the "Bim Born girl": she leads the song and brightly encourages everyone to join in and raise their arms to shout an enthusiastic "Hey!" after every "Shabbat Shalom." "It's hysterical to watch," she jokes, "because they all know that they better do this or they're not getting their treats!" Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Schoenberger moved to Orlando with her husband, Peter, more than 20 years ago after working together for many years in their retail business. She has always been involved in volunteering for various organizations, and when she learned about The Jewish Pavilion she immedi- ately felt that it would be a good fit. At the time, Schoenberger's mother was nearing 90 and living on her own in South Florida. Schoenberger had very muchwanted her mother, who was having increasing health problems that made her life difficult, to move to Brookdale Island Lake so that she could get the help she needed. But her mother could not be persuaded and r buffed other efforts to help her, leaving Schoenberger frustrated that she couldn't do more. Volunteering for The Jewish Pavilion was her way of "ful- filling what I couldn't for my mother," Schoenberger said. With her sunny personality, Schoenberger has a way of making Shabbat and holiday programs special. She dresses up in themed outfits for all the holidays, including a blue dress with dreidels and menorahs printed on it that she wears for Hanukkah. "It's the tackiest dress you will ever want to see, but they love it," she laughed. Jewish Pavilion program director Emily Newman has been working with Schoen- berger for years and values her highly. "Shirley has added warmth, enthusiasm and pure joy to the Shabbat programs at Brookdale Island Lake," Newman said. "She's both generous and dependable in every way. She not only develops a relationship with the seniors but with staff and family members as well." Schoenberger also fre- quently brings her grandsons, Noah and Jared Weiss, with her on visits. Of her three sets of grandkids, Noah and Jared are the ones who live in the area, and other grandkids have also joined her when in town. "It's amazing to see the rap- port they have with the older people, because sometimes kids can get very intimi- dated," said Schoenberger. "My grandsons do the service sometimes. I'm so proud of them, and the residents love them!" The relationships Schoen- berger forms with many of the residents don't only develop during her regularly sched- uled hours. When they be- come ill, Schoenberger visits them in the hospital or rehab center. The hardestvisits have been to people she had grown very close to who were clearly near death. Schoenberger takes these losses very hard. After volunteering for a while at Brookdale Island Lake and Savannah Court, she met Gloria Newberger, a longtime and very active Jew- ish Pavilion volunteer--and the mother of Nancy Ludin. Newberger told Ludin about Schoenberger's warmth and energy, and Schoenberger was invited to join the Friends of the Jewish Pavilion Board. "The people that I've met through The Jewish Pavil- ion-the other volunteers and staff have become more than friends. It's another fam- ily of mine," Schoenberger said. "You know that if you need these people for any- thing, they'd be there for you. And that's a good feeling, because it's more than just a volunteer job, it's away of life." This year, Schoenberger is co-chairing The Jewish Pavilion's annual gala, which will mark the organization's milestone 18th anniversary. Gems and Jeans 2018 will be held at Hilton Orlando North in Altamonte Springs on Oct. 28, 2018. "Our celebration of the Chai anniversary will be a fabulous and fun event," said Schoenberger. "We're plan- ning a great evening that will entertain our guests and leave them feeling good about giving their support to such an important organization in our community." Schoenberger said that volunteering gives her a sense ofpurpose."I've always taught my children to give back. And this is my way of giving back. Because I really do feel like I'm doing something good," she said. "I really probably get more out of this from the residents than they do from me." Volunteering for The Jewish Pavilion can be rewarding in so manyways.With more than 1,000 Jewish seniors living in 70+ facilities around town, there are many opportunities to get involved. For more in- formation, go to JewishPavil- or call 407-678-9363. FLORIDA EWISH NEWS Publication Date: August 3, 2018 Advertising Deadline: July 25, 2018 Students and senior citizens learn from each other in the Jewish Pavilion Inter-gener- ational Program. What a spectacular year of learning! The Jewish Pa- vilion's Inter-generational Program had a fantastic year with more to come. This program was made possible in part due to grants from The Moskowitz Foundation, the Jewish Federation and the Staples Foundation. Teens and seniors were welcomed into each other's minds and worlds. Experience's varied from group meetings, discus- sions and playtime to one-on- one visitations. Programs en- abled teens the opportunity to break out of their shells and engage in dialogue with their elders. Laughter was shared. Music was enjoyed. Lessons were learned and ideas were exchanged. Similaritieswere learned while coincidences were discovered. In some cases it was a who's who in a family tree that knows some- one in another's family, while in other cases, total strang- ers now departed with hugs after a respectful exchange of ideas. In the beginning, it was two separate groups. The con- clusion was one group that ended with friends, smiles, hugs, respect, patience, understanding, admiration, trust, insight and caring. Who can say which group gained more? Both side had benefits. The teens received the wisdom of their elders, firsthand ac- counts of their heritage and history that could not be taught in books. The seniors were able to absorb some of the infectious enthusiasm of the teens and the wide-eyed excitement of a world yet to come. Together, there was an exploration of thought processes that will only lead to a better tomorrow for all. --Walter Goldstein, pro- gram director The RAISE program for young adults with special needs is now accepting online applications for a limited number of fall positions. RAISE is a 6- to 12-month work and social skills training program offered through the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando that is open to all faiths and provides paid em- ployment at our partnering Jewish agencies. In addition, RAISE assists our employees in the transition to finding em- ployment in the community. If you know a young adult who may benefit from RAISE or you are interested in volunteering as a Job Coach, please apply on- line: or con- tact the JFGO office: 407- 645-5933, ext 236.