Category: Kavod Connections

Ovation Communities – Year in Review

There have been a number of exciting improvements and updates to the Ovation Communities campus and operations this year. These initiatives ensure that Ovation remains the first choice for the best quality care and programming, as well as top-notch esthetics and amenities.

Elevated Dining Experiences Roll Out Across Campus

With a focus on wellness and food quality, several projects to enhance the dining experience at Ovation Communities began to take shape this year.

  • The new Chai Point kitchen opened in January, more than doubling the size and allowing for improved workflow, dedicated meat, dairy and parve areas, and top-of-the-line new appliances. Residents can now enjoy a customized dining program, featuring fresh ingredients and made-from-scratch cooking, accompanied by unique restaurant style dining options. Resident engagement has been invaluable throughout this project and tweaks continue to be made as they begin to experience the new kitchen and provide helpful feedback.
  • The Oasis Kosher Café is one of the only full-service kosher restaurants in the city of Milwaukee. The team continues to work to expand operations so guests in the area always know they have a reliable, delicious option for excellent kosher cuisine.
  • Ovation Communities recently hired a new food service director, Mike Aparo. Mike is an exceptional kosher chef and certified dietary manager who is excited to reinvigorate Ovation’s food offerings and continue to add culturally appropriate foods throughout the campus.

New Memory Care Neighborhood: Kavod Terrace

Kavod Terrace opened at the end of September, setting a new standard for the highest quality memory care services in a beautiful, homelike setting. The 14,718-square-foot, 16-apartment wing features enlarged community spaces, a new light-filled solarium overlooking Prospect Ave., and Monya’s Garden, an outdoor space with views of Lake Michigan. This innovative project reimagines the original vision of this residential community to make people feel at home in a rich, vibrant environment and surround them with the sensory stimulation of art, music and personalized programming.

Kavod Terrace was recently designated a Dementia Specific Facility following Administrator Katie Quintanilla’s successful completion of LeadingAge Wisconsin’s Dementia Care Designation System certification. This makes Kavod Terrace and the Jewish Home two of only 15 total facilities in the state to hold this important distinction.

With the opening of Kavod Terrace, Ovation Communities now has a full continuum of care, allowing our residents to remain in the community they know and love as their level of care needs evolve. My personal goal is to make sure that every resident feels as though they are truly at home at Kavod Terrace. The intentional open-concept layout serves to foster a sense of community and togetherness to combat the isolation and loneliness often felt by residents living with dementia. Our staff is poised to provide a safe, peaceful and joyful living experience for each resident as we strive to meet them where they are on their journey. We are so excited to see this vision come to fruition as we start welcoming our first residents!”
— Katie Quintanilla,
Administrator, Ovation Jewish Home

Building an Indoor Playground

Ovation Communities secured funding this year to install a children’s playground on the main level of the Jewish Home. Unexpected in a senior living community, this new amenity will serve as an incredible quality of life boost for residents that struggle to leave the campus. Seniors love nothing more than watching children play and Ovation is thrilled about the upcoming on-site play option available during visits from beloved grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

New Nurse Call System

Staff across Ovation Communities are now equipped with wireless pager devices notifying them of resident calls immediately, even when they’re not at the desk. The new technology will cut down on the time it takes for nurses to respond to and assist with any and all needs, offering additional peace of mind for residents and their families.

From the Desk of Tanya Mazor

What an incredible year! I am filled with gratitude for the generosity of so many in our community. Your gifts, of both time and money, have meant that our residents were able to enjoy many enriching spiritual, social and educational offerings. Programs such as our field trips to community happenings and festivals, extensive Adult Day Services offerings, meaningful volunteer experiences, and robust health and wellness activities are only possible because of you and your support.

As I think about philanthropy, I am reminded of a powerful quote by Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks of blessed memory: “the paradox of giving is that when we lift something to give to another, it is we ourselves who are lifted. I believe that what elevates us in life is not what we receive but what we give. The more of ourselves we give the greater we become.” We are unified in our shared values, we find comfort in our faith and belief, and we are strong from our shared sense of purpose to live the Kavod principle of serving our elderly with honor, respect and compassion.

While we reflect on the wonderful year behind us, I remain focused on the important work ahead. You may not realize that, in addition to making invaluable programming possible, our Foundation also supports essential operations. As Medicare reimbursements continue to decrease and the cost of providing care continues to rise, your support of our Foundation is essential. As such, I am personally asking you to consider a financial contribution. Now it is our turn to take care of those who contributed so significantly to our community. Every gift matters, no matter how big or small, and every dollar raised ensures that Ovation Communities has the resources necessary to give our elders an amazing place to live and enjoy the remainder of their years.

With deep gratitude,

Tanya Mazor
President, Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation, Inc

From the Desk of Mike Silverman

By the time you receive this, I will have been at Ovation Communities for ten months. While that isn’t much time at all, it feels like I have been a part of this wonderful community for much longer thanks to all of you who have been so welcoming and supportive.

While this past year has been marked by new beginnings and a few changes, what I find most remarkable are the cherished traditions that remain unchanged. Among our shared values, two stand out to me as particularly important at Ovation Communities: faith and courage. This last year, we’ve relied heavily on both to accomplish our goals and fulfill our fundamental mission.

As part of that vision, we are investing in many facility enhancements. This September, Kavod Terrace, our new memory care unit, opened. The Oasis Kosher Café, one of the only kosher restaurants in the city of Milwaukee, has reopened to the public and a new head chef is settling in. Currently, we are in the planning stages to add an indoor playground and movie theater to give visitors and residents spaces that allow for intergenerational interaction in neighborhood-like settings. And we’ve just implemented a state-of-the-art nurse call system that will improve response times, increase nursing efficiencies and enhance communication. Please be sure to watch Kavod Connections and check our website often for more details about these and other exciting new programs.

As we embrace a bold vision for the future, we are guided by our rich past and inspired by our remarkable present. I am excited to be on this journey with all of you and want to thank our board members, volunteers, staff, residents and their families for the joy and friendship you bring to me and everyone at Ovation Communities.

Shana Tova,

Mike Silverman
President, Ovation Communities

Kavod Terrace (CBRF) Programming Features Arts and Music

While the construction of this 16-room memory care unit is getting finalized, Shelly Robinson, Resident Services Director of Kavod Terrace, has been working on resident programming, which will focus on music and the arts.

“Being able to create something from the ground up is so exciting,” Shelly said. “To know that Ovation Communities has a full service continuum of care is awesome.”

Focusing on gerontology while in college and being consistently involved with seniors throughout her career, Shelly has a passion for memory care. “We found in the research that as people age their memory almost seems to get younger, so being able to bring them back to their reality with music and art can be very calming,” Shelly added.

Judith Lebovitz, Ovation Communities Art Therapist, and Kevin Farinelli, Ovation Communities Music Therapist, report similar findings and express their excitement in applying their passions for art and music respectively to Kavod Terrace.

“Art therapy is an important therapeutic component of memory care,” Judith said. “It can stimulate and capture dormant memories and restore some language in seniors struggling with speech. My art therapy groups emphasize health and wellbeing, which helps our residents experience more resilience and personal empowerment.”

Judith has been working with residents at Ovation Communities, running multiple art therapy groups a week for both the Jewish Home and Chai Point residents since August 2022. However, her understanding of Ovation and memory care run deeper as her late father was a resident of Chai Point. Judith’s personal connection to Ovation’s mission influences her goals for Kavod Terrace.

“Art therapy at Kavod Terrace will help our residents maintain their dignity and feel empowered in their lives for as long as possible,” Judith added. Kevin, who has worked at Ovation for five years, has developed important relationships with residents through music therapy and is excited to develop 16 more at Kavod Terrace.

“Music therapy creates a holistic relationship between the residents, the therapist, and the music itself, and we use that relationship to promote health in various ways,” Kevin said. “With residents who are dealing with memory issues, it specifically helps with performative identity—the idea that you are what you do.”

While Kevin continues to nurture his relationships at the Jewish Home and Chai Point, he is also eager for the unique experience of Kavod Terrace.

“My hope for the CBRF is that residents will be able to take on a more active role in the music therapy process.”

Throughout its development, the overarching goal with Kavod Terrace has been to create a unique and exciting community. With its grand opening right around the corner, that vision will begin to take shape.

“Being that stand alone small community is what sets Kavod Terrace apart,” Shelly said. “The facility is just so serene, beautiful, spacious, and vibrant. We are really looking forward to assisting residents and adding life to lives.

Ovation Communities Welcomes New President

As he rolls up his sleeves and prepares for a new challenge, Mike Silverman is ready to jump in and lead Ovation Communities as the organization’s next President.

Joining Ovation Communities from across the country at Heritage Pointe in Orange County, Calif., Mike Silverman has 27 years of senior living healthcare experience, and is looking forward to the next chapter of his career.

“Throughout the Jewish home world, Ovation Communities is considered to be a premier organization,” Silverman said. “I am going to work tirelessly to make sure that the legacy of Milwaukee’s Jewish community and Ovation continues to be strong.”

Building upon almost 120 years of Ovation Communities’ care and history, Silverman first plans to learn how everything at Ovation flows, understand relationships, policies, and procedures. Beyond that, Silverman is going to immerse himself in Milwaukee’s Jewish community by becoming active and joining a synagogue.

“I want to understand everything,” Silverman said. “Then I want to start figuring out how I can make a difference and continue to build on the level of excellence expected of Ovation Communities.

“I’m very much the type of person that’s going to say to any of our staff, ‘if you need some help, let me know,’” Silverman continued. “I do not expect everybody to be able to do all things. I think it is important when you’re running an organization that you roll up your sleeves, and you get in there and work with, and alongside, your team.”

Bringing a skillset with expertise in operations and leadership, Silverman is most excited to build relationships and get to know residents and staff.

“I’ve always built exceptional relationships with my team,” Silverman said. “I think that you have to really value your employees and you have to let them know how important they are to the organization, so they know that they’re appreciated.

“I also love having the opportunity to sit and visit with residents and get to know them personally,” Silverman continued. “What really makes the biggest difference is when you have an opportunity to sit with a resident or sit with the family and impact them in some way that improves their quality of life, and I think that’s very special.”

Recognized as a seasoned leader with impressive experience growing and expanding senior living communities, it was clear that Mike Silverman was the perfect choice to lead Ovation Communities, according to Jewish Home Chairman of the Board, Jay Frank.

“We are thrilled to welcome Mike to Ovation Communities. He is a Jewish community professional dedicated to making our community as strong and vibrant as possible,” Frank said. “Mike has extensive experience in the healthcare industry, including assisted living, independent living, memory care, and skilled nursing.

“In getting to know Mike, it is clear that his industry expertise, leadership qualities and character make him a perfect fit for this role. We are truly blessed to have found Mike Silverman who will carry on Mike Sattell’s legacy of strengthening and growing Ovation Communities.”

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.”