2017-11-22 / Voice at the Shore

Beron-JOAS fundraiser honors Whelan’s memory

By ELLEN WEISMAN STRENGER
Voice shore editor


Philip Perskie (right), expressed gratitude to Whelan’s family members for all the former State Senator did to help Beron-JOAS. Philip Perskie (right), expressed gratitude to Whelan’s family members for all the former State Senator did to help Beron-JOAS. The memory of Jim Whelan, the former New Jersey State senator and Atlantic City mayor who passed away this summer, was honored at the Beron Jewish Older Adult Services (JOAS) annual “Adding Life to Years” fundraiser November 8 at the Atlantic City Country club. Roughly 75 people attended.

Whelan was supposed to be the guest of honor at the fundraiser, which was originally planned for August 23. When Whelan died of a heart attack on August 22, the day before the fundraiser, the event was postponed.

According to the event program, “Senator Jim Whelan’s support and guidance were instrumental in helping Beron- JOAS secure the site for the Herman Pogachefsky Senior Services Pavilion in Atlantic City.” The agency currently offers numerous programs and services for older adults at that location.

During the event, the late Senator’s widow, Kathy Whelan, tearfully read a statement that her husband had prepared for the original date. In it, he remarked on the harmony evident among people of all races and ethnicities who came together at Beron-JOAS’s Rosin Senior Center—a harmony which thankfully stood in stark contrast to the racial hatred and violence that had been seen over the summer in Charlottesville, VA. Whelan also praised the senior center for providing so many seniors with the biggest and most nutritional meal of their day.

Whelan’s statement also humbly thanked the staff of Beron-JOAS for their ongoing efforts to serve the community, saying it was they, not him, who should be receiving recognition.

Whelan’s widow and other family members received a watercolor portrait of the late senator painted by Bernice Chalfont, a Beron-JOAS board member and watercolor painting instructor. They also received plaques and letters honoring Whelan from a handful of politicians including Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson, Senator Cory Booker, and outgoing

Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian.

The Beron-JOAS annual Adding Life to Years fundraiser was created in honor of agency founder Audrey Perskie. Accordingly, her son, local attorney Philip Perskie spoke at the event, offering his thanks to Whelan’s family for all that he did to help the agency.

“My mother loved Jim Whelan,” he recalled, perhaps even more than her own children, he joked—because unlike her children Whelan never said “no” to her.

“My mother, Audrey, would be particularly proud if she were here to present this award,” he said. “I suspect she would then call him the next morning,” he added, both to thank Whelan and also to ask him for another favor on behalf of JOAS.

Perskie himself fondly remembered the former state senator and mayor as “a kind, caring person who was always available.”

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