Gala by distance,
love up close
By Deb Silverthorn
Behind the masks, you can’t miss the smiles or the care. That’s why CHAI is holding a virtual Happy Hour Mask-R-Aid to honor the organization’s caregivers and staff.
“We can’t say thank you loud enough,” said Ricki Shapiro, who serves as one of the CHAI development co-chairs with Beverly Goldman. “The caregivers are there 24/7, taking care of our residents, keeping them safe, entertained and enjoying life. We honor them and the superlative job they do every day.”
The Community Homes for Adults, Inc. website is now open for donations for the Sept. 15 event. The organization is hosting the online event to support its Bauer, Levy 1, Levy 2, Miller 1, Miller 2, Toub, Todd and Yale homes as well as to provide, under general circumstance, its day-habilitation, host home and companion care, nursing and Wolens Program services.
“Many residents have underlying medical conditions and are vulnerable. We’ll be one of the last to open because we’re just not going to take any chances,” said CHAI, Inc. CEO Lisa Brodsky, whose weekly visits to the agency’s eight homes now occur from their front porches. “We spent lots of time, at the start, drafting the ‘what ifs.’ The only way we’re succeeding is through the grace, strength and professional care of our staffers who are nothing short of a blessing.”
While CHAI’s inhabitants have remained COVID-19 free, there is a COVID-positive plan in place should the need arise.
“It’s taking patience and adapting, but we’re doing what we have to keep everyone safe. It’s the only way,” Brodsky said, adding that webinars and meetings initiated by Jewish organizations have been invaluable. Participating organizaitons include the Jewish Federations of North America, the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas and its Jewish Community Relations Council, as well as the Health Crisis Management Team set up by the Federation. “Our community is a beautiful orchestra working together.”
Residents have been kept busy by book clubs co-sponsored with the Special Needs Partnership of Jewish Family Service, as well as games, song and dance parties, crafts and social learning programs, local road trips in their vans and twice-daily walks.
“We’ve all embraced Zooming and, at CHAI, it’s always a party,” said Christian Gonzales, a longtime CHAI volunteer who hosts a cooking and craft session. “Peanut butter balls got rave reviews and lots of laughter. Getting the joy to translate from the screen, especially now, is what it’s all about.”
CHAI residents and their families have been virtually hosted by Congregation Beth El Binah, including them in their biweekly Kabbalat Shabbat services. Visitations have been tough during social distancing, as family and friends are not permitted beyond the front lawn.
“CHAI is, as always, incredible,” said Judy Kogutt, whose son, Asher, lives at Miller 2 House; she has been visiting from outside the house. “It’s hard but I have all the confi dence in the world in his safety, which comes fi rst.” For Asher, like everyone, the pandemic’s end won’t come soon enough. He’s ready to be up close and personal, to hug and to hold. “We do lots of things, but I miss everyone … a lot.”
The Kogutts and others participated in a Sunday, June 28, drive-by parade, coordinated by Temple Shalom’s Sisterhood (See Post Pics on page 3). At the parade’s starting point, Temple Shalom representatives received CHAI’s Community Partner award, the honor originally planned for presentation at CHAI’s annual meeting, canceled due to COVID-19. The congregation has long supported CHAI residents by building sukkot, providing Hanukkah activities, an annual Shabbat dinner and the Brotherhood’s annual bingo and pizza parties.
“It felt good to go and do something nice,” said Robyn Carafi ol, who coordinated the parade. “The residents enjoyed it but I think those of us parading enjoyed it more!”
Chai’s virtual Mask-R-Aid event was originally planned for the Statler Hotel. A variety of acknowledgments are planned, from CHAI masks for all to gifts of varying amounts depending on donation levels.
“We’re sorry not to be together in person but we’ll defi nitely celebrate, and it will be fun,” Shapiro said. “Every hour at CHAI is ‘happy hour’ and we’re thrilled to spread that feeling throughout the community.”
For details and registration for the Mask-R-Aid, or to make a donation, visit chaidallas.org/ chai-life-mask-r-aid.
To volunteer, email email@example.com.
Gala by distance,