2016-04-13 / Home

Tacos & Tequila kickoff event for group aiding seniors


Ethel J. David (left) the founder of the JGH Women’s Auxiliary, and Aimee Levin, a former president and chair of the May 5 Tacos and Tequila, look forward to the event as a chance to introduce the new Friends of Jewish Senior Housing. Ethel J. David (left) the founder of the JGH Women’s Auxiliary, and Aimee Levin, a former president and chair of the May 5 Tacos and Tequila, look forward to the event as a chance to introduce the new Friends of Jewish Senior Housing. Tacos & Tequila, a gala event that combines two favorite Mexican-themed fares, is the first official get-together to mark the merger of two groups that have long worked tirelessly to improve the lives of the elderly in the South Jersey community.

The festive event on Cinco de Mayo (May 5) ushers in the birth of Friends of Jewish Senior Housing, a new volunteer organization that will support the programs and services for residents of Dubin, Gesher and Saltzman houses, as well as the healthcare residents of Lions Gate. It will be held Thursday, May 5, 6-10 p.m., at Woodcrest Country Club in Cherry Hill.

“The purpose is both to raise money and to introduce the community to the new organization,” explained Aimee Levin, a former president of the JGH Auxiliary, a volunteer organization created 45 years ago to support residents of the Jewish Geriatric Home, which was the precursor to Lions Gate. “We picked an event that we felt could possibly catch the eye of younger people and a more diverse crowd.”

Glenn Sloves, former president of Jewish Senior Housing Associates, added that combining the two organizations helps all seniors housed in Jewish Federation facilities.

“Some who end up moving into assisted living or the nursing home at Lions Gate are from Dubin, Gesher and Saltzman House,” noted Sloves, who is a co-president of the newly constituted Friends of Jewish Senior Housing. “It made perfect sense to merge the two boards.”

Sloves’ co-presidents on the new board are Chloe Handler and Toby Dubner, both former presidents of the Auxiliary.

The Auxiliary was created in 1971 when the Jewish Geriatric Home opened on Chapel Avenue in Cherry Hill. Ethel J. David recalls getting the call asking her to start a support group.

“Harold Frankel called me up and said, ‘we want you to start an auxiliary,’” recalled David, who was active with the Allied Jewish Appeal, as JFund was then known, and other volunteer efforts at the time. “I said, ‘Harold, what do you want me to do?’ He said, ‘I don’t know.’”

David, now a resident of Lions Gate who will be celebrating her 100th birthday next year, went with the idea. She established the mission, which was to make life better for seniors. Its motto was “because we care.”

The Auxiliary was known for its black-tie events, planned by David and other wives of doctors. Money raised helped the nursing home and residents by buying new beds, equipment, whatever they needed, recalled Adrienne Seligman, a former Auxiliary president.

“We never said no,” recalled Seligman. “We brought in entertainment, bought a van to help them with transportation, paid for educational programs and special trips.”

When the plan for Lions Gate came into play, the Auxiliary gave $1.5-million towards the building costs, and then another $500,000 more recently.

Meanwhile, the Associates has given funds to help support essential services for people in the senior housing homes that are part of the Jewish Federation’s Jewish Senior Housing & Healthcare Service (JSHHS), including food for those who cannot afford it, said Sloves. In October, the Associates made headlines by convincing 309 volunteers to form a human menorah for the Guinness Book of World Records to raise awareness and more than $30,000 to help the senior homes.

Both organizations always provided volunteer opportunities for members to meet with the seniors as well.

Andi Levin, president of JSHHS, said the merging groups present wonderful new opportunities.

“The agency is very appreciative of the work both the Associates and the Auxiliary have been able to accomplish over the years,” said Levin, who started with the Auxiliary as a member of the Circle of Friends, a subset of volunteer mothers and their young children who visited residents. “The new organization offers more volunteer opportunities for people who have been members of the Auxiliary and offers new ideas for fundraising by bringing in the board members of the Associates. It’s a new crop of creative people who can help us bring new ideas and hopefully new dollars to the agency.”

Tickets for Tacos & Tequila are $72 each or $136 for two. Sponsorship opportunities are available.

To become a sponsor, purchase tickets, or for more information, contact Felice Kelem at (856) 679-2189; fkelem@lionsgateccrc.org; or www.lionsgateccrc.org/tacosandtequila .

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