JCC senior adults on the move
[by Shiela Steinman Wallace]
Today’s seniors are on the move and the Jewish Community Center’s Senior Adult Department is moving right along with them.
When the department’s directors Slava Nelson and Diane Sadle were sharing what they learned at the Meals on Wheels conference held in Washington, D.C., last September with Theresa Barczy and Mag Davis, both of whom are active in the Senior Adult program, the seniors told them they had never been to the nation’s capitol and it would be nice to go.
Barczy and Davis are natural leaders and they began talking about the idea among their friends. Before long, they recruited a group of people who expressed interest in the trip, and Nelson and Sadle said, why not. After all, the purpose of the Senior Adult program is to support a healthy, active lifestyle.
Nelson, who used to lead trips for new immigrants from the former Soviet Union to Washington, took the lead. “I didn’t realize so many Americans had not gone to Washington,” she said.
Planning the trip was not a problem. There are more places the seniors would enjoy visiting than there is time to visit them all. Many active seniors, however, live on fixed incomes and the cost of a trip like this can be prohibitive. So Nelson turned to the Jewish Federation of Louisville for help, and Stew Bromberg, vice president and chief development officer, found the help she needed from William and Judy Levy Fund.
With all the pieces in place, Nelson planned the trip for April 14-17, and she and Sadle took 23 seniors on this adventure. The group was very diverse. Participants ranged in age from 62 to 92. They came from all walks of life, Jewish and non-Jewish and included a Serbian refugee and a Lebanese woman. The group even included Frank Lichtefeld, who is the Senior Adult program’s regular bus driver in Louisville, and his wife, Bonnie.
They had a knowledgeable tour guide, Channa Hayes, and the group peppered her with questions. “They developed amazing camaraderie,” Nelson said, “and looked after each other. Nobody got lost.”
The itinerary included stops at the Lincoln Memorial, the memorials for World War II and the Korean and Viet Nam Wars and the Einstein Memorial; tours of the U.S. Capitol and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Arlington National Cemetery and some of the museums of the Smithsonian Institution.
In addition, the group spent some time at the Washington, D.C., JCC. They toured the facility with Associate Executive Director Josh Ford, enjoyed lunch, joined in a Skype conversation with Senior Adult program participants who remained in Louisville and had a briefing with Paul Beck from the Department of Homeland Security.
Everyone who went came back to Louisville energized and excited.
“I had never been to Washington, D.C. before,” said Margaret Mazanec, “and I’m thankful I had the opportunity to go with such wonderful people. I didn’t know a lot of them, but we bonded like family.”
Rosita Kaplin agreed. “Everybody helped each other. It was wonderful.”
For Mazanec, a highlight of the trip was the changing of the guard at Arlington National Cemetery. The guards were polished and professional. They performed with precision and never smiled.
Martha Bennett was also impressed with the changing of the guard. It was so impressive that even a group of middle or high school students who stood nearby were silent throughout the solemn ceremony. The guard changes every half hour, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, she added.
There were 22 funerals at Arlington the day the group was there, Kaplin said, and they saw one with a funeral procession that included a band and two white horses.
The tombstones there form a “cascading vee” shape, Mazanec observed.
The Holocaust Museum made an impression on Bob Hillebrand. “We were the last group to come out of the Holocaust Museum,” he said, “and the last thing we saw was a room full of shoes.”
At the Smithsonian, the group split up and everyone went his/her own way. For Kaplin, the orchids from Brazil were the big draw, whereas Bennett headed for the Hope Diamond and the exhibits of First Ladies’ dresses and china.
Everyone agreed there was too much to see in one trip and they’d like to go back to Washington or on another Senior Adult Department trip. They also agreed that Nelson and Sadle did an excellent job with the trip and everyone felt they were well taken care of.
Those who traveled to Washington with Nelson and Sadle were Teresa Barczy, Martha Bennett, Mag Davis, Bob Hillebrand, Rosita Kaplin, David and Margot Kling, Dolores Levy, Frank and Bonnie Lichtefeld, Judy Lott, Thelma Marx, Margaret Mazanec, Margo McCabe, Bibi Monsky, Rodney and Sharon Pearman, Ilean Rowe, Joan Stein, Dan and Mary Jane Streit, Martha Tebault and Linda Williams.