The letter below was sent to Jewish Care by 9 year old Mia Singer. Mia recently donated her birthday money to Jewish Care, specifically to our Housing Services. We share this letter with you to show that making a positive impact on your community can begin at any age.
At my school our unit has been NEEDS and WANTS. We have been learning the differences between needs and wants and how needs can be met in different ways. Like for example, a need is something that you can’t live without where as, a want is something that you can live without. Like saying, compare a toy to clean air, clean water, shelter, food and so on. You can definitely live without a toy but you definitely can’t live without the other things.
On Monday 13 February, we were happy to have Norman Hermant, ABC News Social Affairs Correspondent visit Jewish Care to produce a story about a new program called Tech, Tea & Tales.
This exciting inter-generational program is being run by Humankind Enterprises (StoryPod) and Lively in partnership with Jewish Care. The 6-week program, the first of its kind in Australia to be run in an aged care facility, involves young ‘story helpers’ working one-on-one with Jewish Care residents, to help them use technology to connect with friends, family and their interests, and record their stories and life experiences on film.
The below excerpt is part of a presentation by Dr Dov Degen at the launch of Jewish Care’s Reach Out, Speak Out campaign.
My name is Dov and I am a medical doctor. Outside the hospital, I enjoy socialising, exercising, travelling and spending time with my fiancé and our pet dog. I also happen to have bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic depression.
When I first tell people about my diagnosis, they are generally surprised because I am so high functioning. I have lived with bipolar disorder for nearly 15 years and although I have been affected by episodes of both soaring heights and soul-destroying lows, I have, for the most part, led a productive and relatively balanced life.
I was first hospitalised during medical school but despite this setback, I successfully completed my medical degree with honours and am currently completing my specialist training. When I am well, I am a high functioning and successful individual. I acknowledge my illness, but it is not who I am. Bipolar disorder does not define me anymore than an individual diagnosed with high blood pressure or diabetes.
Ben* is a 20-year-old man living with disability in our community. He has been diagnosed with autism and leukodystrophy – a complex condition affecting the white matter of the brain, the spinal cord and vision.
At the time of the diagnosis, Ben was reliant on his mother and refused to eat a variety of foods. So too, Ben often broke his glasses and his mother eventually gave up on replacing them.
In 2013, Ben started to attend our Adult Respite Centre. As a result, he developed his independent living skills and has learnt to cook breakfast and lunch as well as cleaning up after himself.
Ben has also learnt how to do his own laundry. He vacuums his room and mops his bathroom, leaving the Centre neat for the next person.
Last year, Ben brought a bag of small potatoes into the Centre. He proudly said that he had grown those on his own. Following this experience, the respite staff decided to set up two veggie patches to allow Ben to explore his new interest further. Ben was very thankful and since then has made sure to water the veggie patches throughout his stay.
Thanks to gardening and cooking activities, Ben has expanded his nutritional choices and often comes up with new meal suggestions.
Due to Ben’s deteriorating eye sight, our respite staff encouraged him to wear glasses. This has had a profound impact on Ben’s life, helping him to attend the veggie garden and become even more independent.
* Name and image were changed to protect client privacy
Shelly* always thought she was in control. She was a super mum — working full time, raising four children, cooking and cleaning and partaking in home renovations. Her husband also worked very hard and together they earned a decent living.
Soon after moving to Australia from New Zealand, they bought their first house. It was quite small and required work but luckily, they had experience in renovations and everything seemed fine.
One day, Shelly fearlessly climbed a ladder to plaster the ceiling, only to fall on the tiled floor seconds later. She was rushed into the emergency room with a broken shoulder, rib and teeth.
Shelly couldn’t return to work for 3 months and had to undergo expensive treatments and occupational therapy in order to drive, run her home and return to work.
Meanwhile, the bills were piling up. She was becoming more and more anxious. With the loss of her income, she had no idea how they were going to cope.
Then Shelly approached Jewish Care following a friend’s advice. Jewish Care’s social worker and financial counsellor Josh* patiently sat with Shelly to work through her challenges, bills and extensive paperwork. Josh also negotiated with external organisations on her behalf to alleviate urgent debts. In addition, Shelly received an interest free loan to consolidate her debts.
Shelly was truly grateful for the help she received from Jewish Care at the time of need and registered as Jewish Care’s volunteer to help others.
* Names and image were changed to protect client privacy
To find out more about Jewish Care’s Community Services, please visit jewishcare.org.au, email email@example.com or call (03) 8517 5999
Mary Fisher (nee Malka Boltiansky) was born in the town of Tokmak, Russian Empire in 1912.
During this turbulent time between the Civil War and revolution, many pogroms took place forcing the Boltiansky family to sell their belongings and move to Israel.
Back then, a 12-year-old Malka loved her new home in Tel Aviv. She attended school for the first time as there was no school in her home town Tokmak. As the family had little money, they could not afford to buy Mary shoes so she had to walk to school barefoot across hot sand each day. Mary was so thrilled about going to school she did not mind burning her feet to get there. She soaked up the education and quickly learnt Hebrew.
In March, we were fortunate to launch The Coppel & Piekarski Family Disability Respite Centre in Caulfield. Even though the centre planning process started only a few years ago, we owe much gratitude to the pioneers of social inclusion in our community who helped build the foundations of our Disability Services over 40 years ago.
Back in the mid-70s, the Victorian Jewish community was powering ahead with a myriad of communal organisations led by long-term community members, refugees and Holocaust survivors determined to rebuild their lives and establish a future for their children.
However, hidden from view, there was a group of children and adolescents with disability who needed community support while the government funding was still years away.
Willing to change the situation, their parents decided to unite and make a difference.Continue reading →
Whenever a new resident arrives to Gary Smorgon House, I try to make an effort in visiting them as early as possible which gives me the opportunity to introduce myself to them and to their family, and to notify them about the various Jewish related activities held at the facility.
Gail* recently moved in as a permanent resident, so I decided to pay her a visit following dinner on the day of her arrival. I approached her room and knocked on the door, and was invited in. When I entered her room and looked at her face, I realised that I actually knew her from Jewish Care’s Active Living Centre.
I then greeted her with a “Hello, stranger”, while she and her family all looked at me like I was from outer space.Continue reading →
Kidiste Alene is an Ethiopian Jewish woman with a nursing background who moved to Australia over a year ago.
Willing to kick-start her career, Kidiste decided to apply for a Certificate III in Aged Care/Home & Community Care offered by our Employment and Education Centre (EEC), with possible funding assistance. Our staff helped her receive financial support and access funds through the Webster Scholarship.
While studying, the EEC assisted Kidiste to find ongoing part-time employment at a local kosher takeaway. Our staff also encouraged her to enrol for the Learn Local Language & Literacy for ESL Aged Care Workers Course to improve her English.
At the end of Kidiste’s course, she successfully completed a job placement of 120 hours at Montefiore Homes. Once again, the EEC assisted Kidiste to prepare for her job interview at Jewish Care, and she secured a job at Montefiore Homes.
These days, Kidiste is a happy, empowered, independent member of the Victorian Jewish community.
For more information about Jewish Care’s Employment and Education Centre, please contact (03) 8517 5713 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Like most of us, Denise Brown has a dream. For as long as she can remember, she has wished to go for a ride in a red sports car.
Denise is a resident at one of Jewish Care’s supported accommodation houses for people with disability. She recently shared her dream with Disability Team Leader, Robert Wilson, which created a ripple effect she couldn’t have imagined. Continue reading →