The annual In Ovation fundraiser has been postponed to April 10, 2024. Read here for more information.

Category: Kavod Connections

2021-2022 Foundation Fiscal Year End Report

As Ovation Communities continues to adapt and evolve through its care, services, and technology, one thing remains unchanged, the mission of inspiring the community’s older adults to lead richer and more meaningful lives through outstanding care and services, guided by our Jewish faith and our gratitude in serving residents of all faiths.

Finding new and creative ways to engage with and help support residents, the Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation is an important pillar of Ovation Communities.

“Despite the challenges Ovation Communities’ residents and staff have faced throughout the past three years, we continue to live our mission every day,” said Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation President Tanya Mazor. “Residents, families, volunteers, and donors have gone above and beyond to support the organization, which allows us to continue to make an impact.”

The Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation provided over $8 million in grants to Ovation Communities for operating cash, capital expenditures to upgrade and improve our buildings, and targeted underwriting of residents’ care, services, and activities.

“Adding to our care and services, Adult Day Services and the new Kavod Terrace memory care unit continue to enhance the lives of residents and provide extended services to the greater Milwaukee community,” Mazor said. “We are so proud to be making a positive impact on the lives of so many different people in a variety of ways.”

The Foundation ended its year with $165,421,822 in net assets, represented by $93 million in unrestricted funds, $52 million in Board Designated funds for resident financial assistance and future capital expenditures, and $20 million in temporarily restricted funds for the following purposes:

“Through your support, we remain strong and committed to adding life to lives,” Mazor said. “Thank you for your continued dedication, and for recognizing the significance and beauty of our mission to enhance our residents’ lives and provide the highest level of service and care that they deserve.”

Supporters Gather Again for Annual In-Ovation Fundraiser

This year, the annual In-Ovation fundraiser returned in person on December 20. Many of Ovation Communities’ biggest supporters gathered to celebrate the year’s accomplishments and enjoy lunch at the Harry and Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center.

In-Ovation is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation, raising money to support the Geriatric Career Development (GCD) Program, the new Kavod Terrace, and Adult Day Services. During the event outstanding individuals and businesses who have positively impacted Ovation were also honored.

“Ovation Communities wouldn’t be where it is today without the hard work and unwavering support of an extensive team,” said Tanya Mazor, Jewish Home and Care Center President. “We are grateful for the time and commitment from our residents, families, staff, volunteers, boards, donors, vendor partners and the surrounding business community.

“While honoring two very deserving people and one very deserving partner, we set out to raise money for three important programs,” Mazor continued. “With your support and dedication, we were able to raise more than $130,000 and continue to enhance the care and services that we provide to our residents and the community. Thank you for helping us add life to lives.”

Ovation Youth Leadership Award: Joey Arnstein

The first of its kind Ovation Youth Leadership Award was presented to Joey Arnstein. Joey is a ninth-grade student at Nicolet High School and Co-President of Teen Ovation, a teen led board created to help bridge the generation gap and inspire others to make the world a better place. Through his work with Ovation, Joey has demonstrated leadership, compassion and a deep understanding of Ovation’s mission and the importance of intergenerational programming. He is a true role model, inspiring other young people in the community to get involved.

“One of the main reasons I started volunteering with Ovation is because I truly love working with the senior generation. When I was in preschool, I had a senior pen pal at Ovation and really loved communicating with her. I even continued visiting her for years after the program ended,” Joey said. “The relationships I’ve developed volunteering with Ovation help make me the person I am today.”

Ovation Spirit Award: Bill Komisar

This year’s Ovation Spirit Award recipient was Bill Komisar, who recently retired from Ovation’s boards. Throughout his tenure with Ovation, he held various important leadership roles including Chairman of the Board of Sarah Chudnow Community, Jewish Home, and Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation while spearheading major projects and fundraising efforts. Komisar’s long-standing commitment to Ovation spans several decades and he is often recognized for his caring nature and respect for others.

“My passion has always been making sure our elders are well cared for,” Bill said. “Ovation Communities has changed my life for the better and made me a better, more caring person.”

Business Partner of the Year: Wintrust Bank

Wintrust Bank was honored as the Ovation Communities Business Partner of the Year. As the primary financial institution for the Foundation, Wintrust has been an indispensable partner, seamlessly accommodating all of Ovation’s needs and requests with a deep understanding of and commitment to the organization’s mission.

“We really value this partnership, and it has been a privilege to work with an organization that upholds such a high standard of care for Jewish seniors and their families in our community,” said Daniel Brenton, Senior Vice President of Commercial Banking at Wintrust Bank. “We love helping organizations who help others, so working with Ovation has been a fun and rewarding relationship.”

Exchange Program Brings Israeli Teens to Milwaukee and Ovation Communities

Initiative plants seeds of tolerance and understanding between people of all ages and cultures.

This past November, Ovation Communities had the honor of hosting an international exchange program that brought 14 Israeli teens to Milwaukee. This is the first time a senior living community has hosted a teen delegation from another country.

“We had the opportunity to see firsthand the benefits of intergenerational programming when we implemented our Teen Ovation Program,” said Tanya Mazor, Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation President. “When we decided to bring this Israeli teen delegation to Ovation, we thought it would be an amazing opportunity for our teens, residents, and the Israeli delegation to gain a deeper understanding of each other, and a chance to explore our commonalities and differences.”

The teens visited Milwaukee between November 7th and 11th, living with volunteer host families throughout their stay. Their days were packed with an array of activities, allowing the Israeli teens to experience the community while also giving the Ovation teens and residents a taste of Israel.

The week was filled with a combination of community volunteer experiences and classic tourist fun. The teens kicked off their trip with sight-seeing in Chicago and shopping. They also attended a Chicago Bulls game and enjoyed many meals alongside the Teen Ovation Board and residents.

The Israeli teens were immersed in American teen culture when they spent a day shadowing and attending classes with their American peers, including members of the Teen Ovation Board, at Nicolet High School. Later in the week, the teens helped escort a group of Ovation residents to Jewish Museum Milwaukee where they toured the latest Jews In Space exhibit, and later presented a 30-minute Kristallnacht program for residents.

The week included several volunteer experiences, featuring a visit to Bader Hillel Academy where the Israeli teens prepped 8th grade students for their upcoming trip to Israel. The group also volunteered at the Friedens Food Pantry and visited Friendship Circle Café to learn about their programs.

“Friendship Circle Café is an extraordinary organization with a unique concept the teens wouldn’t typically experience in Israel,” Mazor said. “Staffed with special needs employees, the Israeli teens and residents were able to visit the café and learn more about their work training program, and the importance of friendship and inclusion.”

Finally, back at Ovation, the Israeli teens had the special opportunity to meet and talk with World War II veteran and resident Julius Garber and hear his captivating story. The Israeli students and David Bitan, the Israeli Teen Delegation Leader and Division Head of Makif Tet High School, led the residents in a sing-along.

“We hope this exchange program planted seeds of tolerance and understanding between people from different backgrounds, ages and walks of life,” Bitan said. “We’re thrilled that the teens were able to create lifelong friendships through their visit to Milwaukee, and we hope they continue to nurture those relationships and do additional amazing things back in their communities.”

Ovation Chai Point Adds New Story Experience Fellow from UWM

This fall, Ovation Chai Point welcomed a new resident— University of Wisconsin Milwaukee (UWM) graduate student Sara Issa. Sara is one of this year’s Story Experience Fellows, a new position (previously known as the Student Artist in Residence) in which upperclassmen from UWM and Marquette University spend their school year engaging with and living in a facility in the Milwaukee area while also attending their regular classes.

“I applied for this program because I would like to know more about the American culture as well as develop my own communicative skills,” Sara said. “Sometimes I feel shy about communicating with new people, but I try to have conversations with the residents and ask them about the different stages of their lives, the most memorable events, and the advice they would like to share with other people.”

Sara has spent the few moments of spare time she has as a PHD student with residents socializing and doing different workshops where she discusses the culture of her home country Jordan and teaches the art of origami, in which she is a master.

“I try to show the residents how to fold simple origami shapes,” Sara said. “Origami for me is really an important art since it helps me be a more patient and organized person.”

Sara’s time getting immersed at Chai Point has been a mutually beneficial experience in which she can share her story and talents with residents, and residents get to do the same.

As a Muslim woman, Sara has brought quite a unique and valuable presence to Chai Point.

“This is the first time we have a Muslim student living in our Jewish facility. That has been really enriching,” said Bonnie Jean Barczak, Chai Point Activities Director.

“Sara started with the goal of learning about Judaism, perhaps dispelling misinformation and stereotypes of the Muslim community, and to have her stereotypes and misinformation about Judaism corrected.”

Golden Alliance Donors Back in Person after Two Years

This year, the Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Golden Alliance, a donor recognition event established to help support the Greatest Needs Fund, which enhances resident care and programming.

Held on Aug. 30, 2022, Ovation Communities hosted 35 people outside on Monya’s Rooftop Garden patio, overlooking Lake Michigan.

Donors were treated to dinner, a tour of the new Community Based Residential Facility (CBRF) — Kavod Terrace — and a lecture from local artist, Tony Spolar, on his inspiration and work with Ovation Communities on the Kavod Terrace door panels of resident rooms and main entryway.

“We are grateful for the continued generosity of our donors and the dedication of our leadership team,” said Tanya Mazor-Posner, Vice President of Development. “Donor support is critical in helping us provide outstanding quality care to residents in this beautiful environment.

“Having the opportunity to gather safely, in person, after two years of hosting this event through Zoom, was wonderful,” Mazor-Posner continued. “Seeing Tony Spolar’s work first-hand is breathtaking.”

Tony Spolar, director and owner of Spolar Studio located in Glendale, was commissioned by Ovation Communities to create custom door panels for each of the 16 resident rooms, and main entryway at Kavod Terrace.

“We wanted to create door panels for each resident’s room that they would individually recognize as their own,” Spolar said. “We used an epoxy resin across eight different colors and cut them in half, spacing them out so no two of the same colors were next to each other.

“We put the resident’s needs above everything else making the door panels functional and beautiful.”

Since its inception, the Golden Alliance Fund has grown to more than $685,000 in assets being held by the Foundation, according to Mazor-Posner.

“Because of the generosity of our donors,” Mazor-Posner said, “we are able to hire local artists like Tony Spolar who enhance the beauty and functionality of our community, enabling us to fulfil our purpose and mission.”

Surlow Award Recognizes Employee Excellence

Throughout his life, one thing that Maurice Surlow understood was the power of great customer service.

Living well into his late 90s, Maurice spent a brief time living at Ovation Jewish Home. According to his great niece,

Debbie Zucker, the care he received from the nurses and dietary aids left an impression on him.

“(Maurice) was born in Hungary, had a family of eight siblings, and came to Milwaukee in the early 1900s when he was eight years-old,” Zucker said. “As an entrepreneur, Uncle Maury worked very hard operating Roxy’s Dress Store, a woman’s clothing store, and several other businesses. He worked for everything he had.

“Through all of his hard work in life, and savvy investments, philanthropy and helping support the Milwaukee community became near and dear to Uncle Maury’s heart.”

Debbie’s father, Bob Zucker, suggested to Maurice that an awards program be started in his name to honor the hardworking and dedicated staff at Ovation Communities.

The Maurice Surlow Award for Employee Excellence recognizes Ovation Communities staff members who provide superior quality of care to residents and their families.

“Our society doesn’t understand how important and valuable caregiving is as a profession,” Zucker said. “It means a lot to our family to be able to honor caregivers, whether they are nurses, CNAs working their way up, or people in the dietary department. It means a lot to honor working people.

“Uncle Maury worked his way up,” Zucker continued. “He wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He appreciated the hard work of people who go the extra mile, while connecting with other human beings in a human way. That kind of stuff wasn’t lost on him.”

Established in 2000 and awarded three times a year, this summer the Surlow and Zucker family awarded Sabrina Stewart, CNA; Belaynesh Bekele, CNA; Katie Waara, Jewish Home Admissions Manager; and Elizabeth Kayser, Activities Specialist, the Maurice Surlow Award for Employee Excellence for all of their care and commitment shown to residents.

Staff members who receive the prestigious award are nominated by their peers, residents and families. They are recognized at a ceremony where they are given a plaque, a celebratory lunch and a monetary gift.

“Maurice Surlow was a man who cared deeply about people and supporting his community,” said Michael Sattell, Ovation Communities President and CEO. “We are very grateful to have the opportunity to celebrate people, who go above and beyond their everyday responsibilities, in a public way with
their community, friends and family.”

Coming Full Circle: From Fundraiser to Resident

Stan Holland is a loyal resident of Ovation Communities. However, his loyalty is not only rooted in his current experience as a resident of Chai Point, but as a former board member and the husband of current Jewish Home resident Ceilia “Cese” Holland.

Although Stan has done a significant amount of work for Ovation in the past, it is the work that is done for him and his wife today that keeps him loyal.

In the late ‘80s, Stan was encouraged by his good friend Burt Zucker to join the board of directors. With Zucker serving as President of the Jewish Home and Care Center Board, and Stan’s other good friend, Bob Hirsh, or “the king” as Stan referred to him, serving as Vice President, it was an offer he just could not refuse.

“It was almost like a get-together of good friends,” Stan said.

During his time on the board, Stan received significant guidance from fellow board member Phil Rubenstein who was known for being both kind and generous, while leading through his actions. Although Stan did not know Rubenstein too well initially, the two quickly became close, and Rubenstein suggested Stan become the Head of the Membership Committee for Chai Point.

Stan held the Head position for two years, where he and the members served as fundraisers and constant promoters of Ovation Chai Point.

“[We promoted] what a wonderful resource Chai Point was, what remarkable work it did, and to make people aware of the fact that these services didn’t come cheaply,” Stan said. “These services require extensive effort and support, not only financial support, but community support. That, we felt, was our mission — to promote the value and make people feel necessary.”

Thirty years ago, Stan knew the importance of Ovation Communities’ mission of inspiring older adults to lead richer and more meaningful lives through outstanding care and services.

Yet, he was not surprised by the quality of care because he has always trusted the skills of the people involved, such as Michael Sattell, who Stan knew as a young boy.

When Stan and Cese were confronted with her abrupt memory loss, they turned to the Jewish Home and never looked back.

“[The staff has] been remarkable to my wife and that attentiveness is so important,” Stan said. “I think frustration is the underlying issue with memory loss. For everyone involved. No matter how frustrated Cese gets, or I get, the staff has done a wonderful job of teaching us how important family is in this situation.”

While Cese is receiving the outstanding care she needs through the Jewish Home, and her nurse Sabrina, Stan found his own support by moving into the place he helped raise money and awareness for 30 years earlier.

“I needed that support, and I got it from Chai Point residents… lots of them,” Stan said. “Every day when I visit Cese, they all ask me, ‘How was Cese today?”

After 71 years of marriage — and counting — the two are able to see each other every day and reflect on the blessings in their lives, such as the multiple volunteer experiences the two have participated in.

While Stan has given much to Ovation Communities, he remains thankful for what has been given to him, such as the great care Cese receives and the people that showed him how to be a kind and generous leader.

“We are thankful to this community for the opportunity,” Stan said. “Thanks to the Jewish Home for everything. Believe me when I say, you have our gratitude.”

From the Desk of Jay Frank, Chairman of the Board

Dear friends, family, volunteers and residents,

Michael Sattell has graciously allowed me to use his space in this issue of Kavod to share some thoughts. The in-person Golden Alliance Dinner, accompanied by the tour of Kavod Terrace, the new memory care community, provided an opportunity to re-experience in person the remarkable facility that is home to our residents. It was my first taste of how Ovation would emerge from the pandemic.

The sheer beauty of the facility, attention to detail, art collections and displays are all testaments to Michael Sattell’s keen sense of class and his devotion to our residents and our community. During his service of more than a decade, he has created a unique legacy. His integrity has helped lead Ovation to be a destination of choice. Establishing Kavod Terrace included a total reconstruction of its quarters and attainment of an entirely new license. It fulfills a decade long goal of adding a dedicated memory care unit to our continuum of care. We are grateful for Michael’s contributions in this milestone.

In July we announced the Board of Directors began a transition process that would redesign the position that Michael currently holds as President of the Jewish Home, Chai Point, and the Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation, as well as CEO of Ovation Communities. Instead of a CEO of all three entities, the Board made the determination that Ovation would be better served if the President’s responsibilities focused specifically on operations, leaving the development work and financial support aspect to a separate Foundation President. In part, this decision is based on the immense responsibilities of the President of the Jewish Home. A year ago, as part of a reorganization, we eliminated the position of Chief Operating Officer. Those job functions were largely absorbed by Michael as President of The Jewish Home and Chai Point.

The most important job we do is providing services to our residents, and we believe that must be the sole focus of the President. While the Foundation is critically important, we believe that the Jewish Home, and Chai Point, would be better served when it has a President solely focused on the mission, with the collaboration of a separate Foundation President.

As we move through the transition process, Michael agreed he will continue to serve in his role while we implement the needed changes. We do not know the exact timing, but we anticipate the new person could take over as early as the first of next year.

We are grateful for the legacy that Michael is leaving at Ovation. But perhaps his greatest gift is helping to preside over this transitional time. Much as Moses handed over the responsibility of the Jewish people to Joshua, Michael will be able to pass on his legacy and his charge.

I hope you enjoy reading about all of magic going on at Ovation! Thank you for allowing me to serve as the Chairman of the Board.

Jay M. Frank
Chairman of the Board of Directors

Ovation Communities New Website Coming Soon

Ovation Communities recently partnered with Lightburn, a Milwaukee based digital agency, to develop a new interactive, approachable, and informative website that is poised to launch in the coming months.

“What started off as simple improvements became a whole new design and functionality,” said Michael Opitz, Ovation Communities Director of Technology and Security. “With technology continuing to develop and evolve at rapid speed, we decided it was time the old website got a total refresh.”

The new site makes it easy for users to find and digest the information they’re looking for through the use of video, images and descriptive written content. It is also easier to navigate and offers an all-around better user experience.

“We are very excited about the launch of our new website,” said Ryan Berlin, Ovation Communities Public Relations Manager. The new website is informative, fun, interactive, and a representation of the services Ovation has to offer.”

“Everything on the new site is very free flowing and intuitive; each click has a purpose.”

The updated website is “service forward,” and goes in depth while explaining Ovation’s offerings and what makes each community unique.

A “Resident Life” section includes an abundance of digital content showcasing daily happenings within Ovation’s communities. The new “Where to Begin” page helps users better navigate the site.

Ovation Employees Recognized for Excellence in Resident Care and Customer Service

The Maurice S. Surlow Award for Employee Excellence was established in 2000 and made possible at the direction of his extended family, including Jim, Bob and Burt Zucker. Mr. Surlow was
born in Hungary and immigrated with his family to Milwaukee in the early part of the 20th century.

At his passing in 1997, he left a major bequest to the Jewish Community Foundation of Milwaukee Jewish Federation. A portion of that bequest is annually directed to the Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation. Originally working closely with Bob and now his daughter Debbie Zucker, a team of staff members who made special efforts to care for residents with the best customer
service are selected.

The Spring 2022 Maurice S. Surlow Award for Employee Excellence winners are:

Cathy Thornton, C.N.A. and
LaToya Bradley, C.N.A,
holding awards; (Bianca Floyd,
Laundry Aide, not pictured.)
Accompanied by Scott Kwiatkowski,
Patty Anderson, Katie Quintanilla.
Jody Steingold, Resident
Assistant, accompanied
by Trish Cohn and
Cheryl Buckman.