Years ago, walking on Wurtemburg Street with my parents, I asked what the small building was that some Jewish people were entering. My mother said it was the “old people’s home.”
Several decades later, my mother entered that home, Hillel Lodge, now located on the Jewish Community Campus. But what a difference: it is now a modern 121-bed facility, staffed by the most competent caregivers and administrators, and is recognized as one of the finest examples of long-term care in Canada.
It was my mother’s last home, and the compassion, love and care she received significantly eased a difficult life transition. We saw first-hand how Hillel Lodge carries out its mission, the mitzvah of honouring our fathers and mothers, which is one of the cornerstones of what it means to be Jewish.
My mother’s experience compelled me to become a volunteer and to help in the governance of this wonderful institution. And many other families have had the same experience. Visitors to Hillel Lodge marvel at the surroundings, the atmosphere, the programs, the staff and, above all, the spirit permeating the facility. We can and certainly should be proud beyond measure. The herculean effort of our community, and the many selfless volunteers who have for decades dedicated their time, talents and spirit, has resulted in an institution that is the envy of many and an example to all.
However, we must never fall into the trap of complacency. Certainly, we’re successful. We have an institution recognized for its achievements. We take care of our loved ones with compassion, love and excellence, and we have fantastic staff. But all of this has to be managed and maintained, and even improved in the future. The Board I have the privilege to chair has recognized that, notwithstanding our success, we must be vigilant to ensure the continuation and improvement of our standards of excellence.
Our community wants, and expects, Hillel Lodge to be a Jewish facility. This costs money. So where does the money come from? There are three sources, two of which are fixed by law. The first is provincial funding that has been, and likely will continue to be, plagued by uncertainty and cutbacks. The second source is room rates charged to residents. These are fixed by provincial law and cannot be increased. These two sources of money do not cover the cost of running a Jewish facility.
The only other source of money is all of us. While we receive a generous allocation from the Jewish Federation of Ottawa, no one should be surprised when we reach out to the community for support for annual fundraising events and planned long-term gifting. The Hillel Lodge Long-Term Care Foundation has been given a significantly expanded role in these areas. Its organizational structure has been revamped with the addition of a professional director of Development and it is now located in a new and visible office on the main floor.
An exciting new website at www.hillel-ltc.com allows the community, the residents and their families to engage with us as never before. The success of events such as the Auxiliary Tea and Biking for Bubbies, as well as our recent Capital Campaign, demonstrate the depth of the wellspring of support that Hillel Lodge enjoys in our community. And the Board itself has risen to the challenge by planning a strategic planning retreat that will attempt to map the way forward to an even brighter future.
We all want and need Hillel Lodge. And so we need your help with leadership and financial support. But most of all we need your goodwill.