JFS’s Lynn Kramer Village by the Shore offers an array of programs for local residents and community members to keep their mind, body, and soul strong. Their programs are diverse and there is truly something for everyone. Each month, a set list of activities occurs, with some of the staples including Coffee Klatch, Positivity Project, nurses’ roundtables, Memoir Workshops, trivia, and bingo. The Village is also successful in integrating new programs and modifying existing ones to meet its members’ needs.
As the Village community specialist, Tina Serota’s responsibilities include promoting, managing, and directing the day-to-day Village members’ services and programs, including social events and service partner coordination. She also promotes the Village within the community through speaking engagements, special events, word of mouth, and marketing.
When asked why Serota loves her job, she said, “I love pulling on my background and passions for cooking, art, crafts, and music to influence my job.” Serota has a background as a school director in a pre-school and she also took care of her own parents as they aged. She explained, “I do what I do because I understand that you need your community from birth to death. It is not a far jump from providing assistance for kids and their families to providing for seniors and their families. Both groups need stimulation and need programs to challenge the mind, body, and soul.”
Serota is dedicated to growing the Village and continuing to offer programs focusing on the wants and needs of its members. Coffee Klatch, one of the Village’s core programs, has gone on since February 2016 and was Serota’s first program. The goal of the program is to talk local and national politics, culture, art, and family. From the start, no subject was off the table. Coffee Klatch immediately resonated with the participants of the Village and continues to draw regular attendance. Serota shared, “We have a community of folks who are doers and shakers and if they weren’t working professionally, they were active in their communities to make it the best for their family and their friends. We need to put stuff out there that will grab attention and enlighten them—this program is one that consistently does that.”
Right now, Village programs are in hybrid mode (Zoom and in-person) and although Serota can never guarantee who will come, or how many people will attend, there is always spirited conversation. Before the pandemic, 40 people would attend, and while the numbers are not that high now, the conversations are still always impactful. “Even if the conversations turn political, at the end of the event we always remember that we are friends and neighbors,” she shared. This value is what keeps participants coming back for more Coffee Klatch.
Part of Serota’s job is listening to the needs of the community members. However, she does not do it alone. “I used to plan everything, but now we have a committee to help, and they truly do a wonderful job,” she shared. When the Village was shut down during quarantine, she recognized morale was down, so Serota developed the Positivity Project. In the face of so much unknown, Positivity Project consistently offered a morning refresh and an evening retreat. In the morning, the group explores positivity, and at the end of the day, they focus on winding down so participants can enjoy a restful night. “People love this program, and it doesn’t matter if we have 12, 15, or even just four people. This is a program we love at the Village and one I look forward to continuing.”
At the beginning of COVID, Serota also implemented cooking classes and titled the series “comfort cooking.” To deal with the stresses and changes to life, the first thing the groups made were desserts. Serota taught the classes herself right from her kitchen. Attendees shared their favorite foods with the group, which was meaningful in its own way. Subsequent classes include favorite fall foods, salads, BBQ, High Holidays, Thanksgiving, and more. As there were changing impacts of coronavirus over time, the theme of comfort cooking morphed into a “lightened delicious” focus to make foods that are both lighter and tastier. This version of the program is still ongoing.
For programs with specialized knowledge, Serota seeks out subject matter experts to teach and inform. For example, over the past few years, Village has hosted nurses’ roundtables. Initially to answer questions about COVID, it now focuses on a variety of topics with the occasional brief COVID update. There have been roundtables focusing on medical marijuana, senior traveling, and aging—which Serota believes was one of the most important programs they ran.
The Memoir Workshop is another core Village program, which started in the spring of 2018. “It’s been a wonderful experience watching our members work with a writing teacher. I’ve seen so many individuals pour out their souls and use this class to cope with difficulties. Some have truly found themselves through writing,” Serota shared. The writing process is cathartic for the members and has helped some through loss, allowing them to share it with others. As participants’ writing improved, some have even sent their works out for publishing.
Village members are also excited that the program “Lunch Around Town” is back for the first time since February 2020. Other regular programs members love include Film Society, Book Talk, flower arranging, trivia, and bingo.
“Our programs are vital to the growth and stimulation of our local residents,” shared Serota. However, as she added, “We would be nothing without the transportation system that residents can use. The service will go anywhere within a 20-mile radius, whether that’s to take a resident somewhere for lunch, to see family, go to a store, or get their hair done.” Village’s transportation service allows residents to continue doing what they love by giving them back their independence.
Village by the Shore offers a unique concierge-style to serving community members. One call to the Village offers an easy “one-stop shopping” experience with access and referrals to high-quality preferred service providers, specialists, and social services.
To purchase a Village by the Shore membership, visit jfsatlantic.ejoinme.org/MyPages/VillagebytheShore/tabid/500094/Default.aspx.
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