There are activities and events for the residents of Hillel Lodge virtually every day. Most are organized or enhanced by a corps of dedicated volunteers.
“At The Bess and Moe Greenberg Family Hillel Lodge, our volunteers’ contributions in enriching the lives of the residents cannot be overemphasized. Our volunteers are very important resources who play a significant part in our home. Our volunteers help create a pleasant atmosphere and assist residents in a variety of ways: bingo, entertainment programs, birthday parties, baking, exercise, trivia/reminiscing, summer barbeques, picnics, outings and so much more. They make a world of difference!” said Marilyn Adler, recreation and volunteer manager at Hillel Lodge, Azara Thomas, recreation assistant and Abeba Thomson, volunteer administrative assistant, in an email.
One of the most popular events at the Lodge is the monthly birthday party honouring all of the residents whose birthdays fall that month.
Last month’s party was held on August 14 and was organized and run by dedicated volunteers including Evelyn Greenberg, Roz Taller, Monica Stein, Christine Gibbard, Sylvia Caplan and Ely Cohen.
Greenberg, a highly-regarded pianist, has been the MC at the monthly birthday parties since 1983. Greenberg pointed out the piano she was playing was donated by the Auxiliary of Hillel Lodge.
The Auxiliary, she said, “captures the essence of volunteering, as they work tirelessly year-round to raise money for many ‘extras’ that bring comfort and enjoyment to the residents.”
Playing songs like “Haveinu Shalom Aleichem,” “Hava Nagila” and “Tumbalalaika,” the volunteers sang, clapped and danced with the birthday celebrants and other residents.
“There’s nothing like giving pleasure by playing a happy tune,” said Greenberg, “not only for the residents, but also for the volunteers.”
Also on a musical note, volunteers Debbie Robin and Howard Kaplan led a singalong at the Lodge on August 15.
“We’ve been doing this for about three years now. When we sing a song that the residents love, their faces just light up,” said Robin.
“They let us know when they have fun – and this is the ‘currency,’” added Kaplan.
Volunteer Christine Gibbard, who helped organize the birthday party, was back at the Lodge on August 16 for a regular pet visit with fellow volunteers Brian Nichol and Larry Weisz. They were greeted by smiles from ear to ear when they brought dogs Daisy Mae, Princess Skyler, Rubby Lynn and Tinkerbell Grace in to visit the residents in their rooms.
“It’s amazing to see how happy the dogs make them,” said Gibbard, “especially those with developmental and physical disabilities.”
These three programs were but a small sample of the many volunteer-driven activities bringing constant joy to the residents of Hillel Lodge.