[by Dianna Ott, Freelance Writer]
This year, the Jewish Community Center’s Elsie P. Judah Award will be presented to two individuals, Mag Davis and Teresa Barczy, who are volunteers for the Center’s Senior Adult Program.
“God must have been looking down on us when Mag and Teresa began to volunteer,” said Senior Adult Director Diane Sadle. “They are the most wonderful, most caring women … words can’t describe how lucky we are to have them.” The two women had participated in the Senior Citizen’s East program but when that program discontinued its daily lunch program several years ago they both began casting about for someplace new.“One lady had a list of names of people who needed a new place to go, and that’s how we got started here,” said Barczy.
“We found out about the Senior Adult Program at JCC but thought ‘they won’t take us, we’re not Jewish.’ But we called anyway and they told us to bring the whole group here.” Only three from that original list are left in the group, including Davis and Barczy, who are actively involved with all aspects of the program. “The minute I walked in I knew this place was different because of the way you’re greeted by everyone,” Davis said. “It’s like coming home when you come here.”
“Mag and Teresa were the ones who suggested our trip to Washington, D.C. in March,” said Sadle. “They got everyone excited and signed them up.” Twenty-three senior adults plus Sadle and Program Director Slava Nelson spent four days touring monuments, historic sites and museums. Davis moved to Louisville to be near her son, Jerry, after he graduated medical school. That was 16 years ago, a year before granddaughter, Lily, now 15, was born. Actively engaged in Lily’s upbringing, she was born in Georgia and lived in Cleveland before relocating to Louisville.
Davis is also an avid gardener who grows tomatoes, watermelon and other plants.
“I’ve planted peanuts and even cotton in pots near my door,” remarked Davis. “Lily loved to pick the cotton bolls and play with them, when the squirrels didn’t take them.” She was asked to help in this summer’s garden project at JCC and will bring heirloom tomato plants she’s started from seed to add to the garden. “I’d love to live on a farm someday,” Davis said.
Barczy traveled the world with her husband, Albert, now deceased, who was a master sergeant in the U.S. Army. A native of the Philippines, she, her husband and three children lived in Germany, Thailand, Okinawa and other regions of Japan – wherever her husband’s assignments took them. The family moved to the U.S. in 1951.
“It was so good for the children to live in so many places,” said Barczy. “They received a very different education because of that.” Daughter Kathy Bruggerman lives in Arizona, as does her son Mark. Daughter Johnnie Sparks is living in Lexington, KY.
Barzcy said she’s always been a volunteer, in addition to working for years as a dental assistant and in the payroll department at Jewish Hospital. Now she claims she’s “officially retired.”
“Here’s what I think,” she said. “It is in giving that we receive.” Diane Sadle agrees, saying that the work of the volunteers is essential to the senior adult program, which serves nearly 200 people. “They (Davis and Barczy) have found their purpose in life,” said Sadle.
The Judah Awards will be presented at the Jewish Community of Louisville’s Annual Meeting, Monday, June 3, at 7 p.m. (note changed time) at the Jewish Community Center.