In this issue of Kavod we have the distinct honor of recognizing an extraordinary leader, friend, and generous contributor to Ovation Communities; Bill Komisar. Bill recently decided to step down as a director of both our Jewish Home and Foundation boards of directors. This follows 25 years of dedication to our residents!
Bill however won’t be leaving us completely; he will remain a member of our investment committee. Please read about his unparalleled impact on the lives of Jewish Home and Chai Point residents.
Bill is just one of more than 60 of our board directors and committee members who all selflessly dedicate their time and expertise to further our mission and to honor our mothers and fathers. We are so grateful to all of our volunteers and our community is forever enriched by their dedication and service.
If you would like to join them in adding life to our residents’ lives, please let me know, and I guarantee we have a place for you!
William (Bill) Komisar recently announced his retirement from the Ovation Jewish Home and the Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation Boards of Directors. Throughout his tenure, Bill graciously took critically important leadership positions as Chairman of the Board of Sarah Chudnow Community, Jewish Home, and Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation, as well as spearheading several major projects and fundraising efforts. Michael Sattell, President & CEO, sat down with Bill to talk about his long involvement with Ovation Communities, his plans for the near future, and his passion for volunteering.
Bill reflected that his involvement began in fourth grade visiting his grandfather, Frank Komisar, at the Jewish Convalescent Center on 51st and Silver Spring. “Later, I saw how well they took care of my grandma and my Aunt Bessie as well.” (The Convalescent Center later merged with the Jewish Home).
Around 1986, Nita Corre asked Bill to join the Jewish Home and Care Center Board, where others quickly “found out you’re a CPA and then, you’re Treasurer,” according to Bill.
Throughout his career, Bill recalls several moments he is proud of, with perhaps the rebuilding of the Jewish Home, from 2005 thru 2007, being most impactful. Along with that came the extraordinarily considerate, but complicated decision to purchase the Mequon Care Center so all Jewish Home residents could move there to avoid living through the tumult of the substantial reconstruction of their home. Bill feels that “the rebuild was remarkable and remains beautiful today.”
Bill is grateful for the relationships he’s made with other board members over the years, pointing out his friendships with Rick Rakita and Mike Joseph early on. During his leadership tenure, both Bill’s mother and father resided at the Jewish Home, where Bill continued to witness “the loving care they gave to my parents. Such kind souls.”
Bill, who also happens to be an attorney in his professional life, has recently retired as a partner at CLA, following a more than 40-year Public Accounting career that included leading his family’s firm, Komisar, Brady & CO., and is currently working as the CFO at a spice company. His wonderful wife Becky said, “My husband retired to a 40-hour per week job!” He and Becky enjoy traveling to see their three children and grandchildren — two and counting! — in Washington, D.C. He remains an integral part of our Foundation’s Investment Committee and hopes to continue volunteering. Bill and Becky have also been incredibly generous donors to the Foundation and in support of all residents.
“A ‘Mensch’ is a person of integrity and honor, this describes my friend, Bill Komisar, both on a personal and professional level,” said Arleen Peltz, Ovation Jewish Home and Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation board member. “His years of serving on the boards of the Jewish Home and the Foundation of the Jewish Home was with dedication.
“In the many years we have served together, I learned so much from him, especially when I became the chair of the Jewish Home and Bill was my mentor,” Peltz continued. “The achievements Ovation Communities has made would not have been possible if not for his wise counsel and patient advice. I am proud to call Bill my friend.”
A fund in Bill’s name was established several years ago to support employee enhancements. He encourages others to immerse themselves in volunteering, offering a good way to start is to “show your talents in a specific field by joining a committee. You meet a lot of really good people, which is very rewarding. And those relationships are invaluable.”
Committed to providing residents with a full continuum of care options, Ovation Communities staff prides itself on clinical excellence and offering the best care possible. To further extend that continuum of care, Ovation Communities will be opening a Community-Based Residential Facility (CBRF) in the summer of 2022. The Helen Bader Center, on second floor of the Jewish Home, will be transformed to take care of 16 adults facing memory issues.
“We have an opportunity to introduce a service to the community that we previously haven’t had — an assisted living environment for those living with Alzheimer’s,” said Michael Sattell, Ovation Communities President and CEO. “The CBRF allows us to honor and elevate the memory and vision of Helen Bader.”
A substantial rebuild of the Helen Bader Center will feature enlarged community spaces, larger apartments, new bathrooms, and a new solarium overlooking Prospect Avenue. Designed by Zimmerman Architectural Studios, construction is set to last throughout the winter of 2022.
“By providing an outstanding environment, and reintroducing Monya’s Rooftop Patio Garden that overlooks Lake Michigan, the new CBRF will allow our loved ones living with Alzheimer’s to experience sensory stimulation in the arts, music, and other programming,” Sattell said.
GENEROUS ART DONATION
In addition to enhanced programming and functionality of the space, a generous donation of fine art from the estate of Rita Seitner will be adding to the overall beauty of the CBRF.
“Rita Seitner was a remarkable woman, entrepreneur, and collector of fine art,” said Tanya Mazor-Posner, Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation Vice President of Development. “She loved art made by Jewish artists. In the collection there are pieces by Itzchak Tarkay and Bracha Guy. “Rita’s parents were residents of Ovation Communities, and one of her desires was to one day move into Chai Point. Unfortunately, she never had the opportunity,” Mazor-Posner continued.
For a short time, Rita was a rehab patient at the Jewish Home and saw first-hand the care and compassion staff have for residents.
“Rita had a deep passion and cared so much about our mission and caring for members of the community,” Mazor-Posner said. “This gift is a beautiful gesture of love, and Rita’s way of fusing her home and her second home of Ovation.”
In 2022 Ovation Communities is undertaking several projects to elevate the dining experience in both the Jewish Home and Chai Point. With a focus on wellness, food quality, and enhanced experiences, residents can expect to see many positive changes throughout the year.
Part of the refresh includes a new partnership with NexDine Hospitality to lead the operations and management of the overall dining service program. NexDine is an industry leader known for their mission-based approach and commitment to excellent quality and service. Residents and visitors will enjoy a new customized dining program tailored to the Ovation community, featuring fresh ingredients and made from-scratch cooking, accompanied by unique restaurant style dining options.
In addition, the Chai Point kitchen is being completely renovated to better serve residents. When it was first built nearly 30 years ago, the kitchen was mainly envisioned as a space for warmup and heating. The renovation will more than double the size of the kitchen allowing for improved workflow, dedicated meat, dairy and parve areas, and top of the line new appliances.
“We know how important it is to make daily life purposeful and enjoyable for our residents, and food is a huge part of that,” said Tricia Cohn, Ovation Chai Point Executive Director. “Everyone is excited to experience the restaurant like dining, wider variety of food options, and choices that support better nutrition and wellness.”
The new space is expected to be complete this summer. In the meantime, Chai Point residents are enjoying dining in beautiful Rubenstein Pavilion, overlooking Lake Michigan.
Ovation Communities is excited to announce its new Professor in Aging, Dr. Murad Taani. This position is supported by the Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation. Dr. Taani succeeds Dr. Christine Kovach who retired in 2020.
Question: Tell us a bit about your background.
Dr. Taani: I grew up in Jordan and earned my bachelor’s degree in nursing there in 2007. In 2010, I moved to the United States and subsequently completed my master’s in public health at New Mexico State University in 2014 and doctorate in nursing at UW-Milwaukee in 2017. During my graduate studies I also worked as a nurse in medsurg, oncology and critical care, and worked in research and as a teaching assistant. My current role is assistant professor in UWM’s College of Nursing, where I teach nursing students and conduct research around improving quality of life in older adults.
Q: Why did you decide on the career path you are on today?
DT: I have always been interested in science and research and had a desire to impact lives in positive ways. Nothing is as interesting and rewarding to me as helping older adults. I am also very passionate about conducting research, learning about the aging process, and promoting health in our older adult population.
Q: What research projects are you currently working on?
DT: Through a grant from Bader Philanthropies, we are in the first phase of a study on lung health. We are looking at ways to improve lung health, strengthen respiratory muscles, and increase physical ability in older adults. The team will be recruiting participants for the study in the next month or two, and the project is expected to take about two years to complete.
Q: What are you most excited about in your new role as Ovation’s next
professor in aging?
DT: I want to thank Ovation Communities for this wonderful opportunity. It will allow me to focus on my passion of promoting health in aging adults. I work with many organizations and have never seen one as dedicated as Ovation is to helping people live longer, better, healthier lives. Together, I hope we can increase our research capabilities to continue to improve the health and wellbeing of Ovation’s residents, and older adults nationally and internationally.
Q: What trends in older adult wellness are important to pay attention to?
DT: There are a few areas that are especially important right now: improving physical performance and physical ability to keep people independent longer; addressing social isolation especially during the pandemic; and investigating causes and treatments for cognitive impairment.
Q: What are your initial impressions of Ovation Communities?
DT: I have found Ovation to be a place that truly cares about its residents. Everyone works seamlessly as a team and goes above and beyond to provide the best possible care in every aspect of daily life, not just health. I am so grateful to have this opportunity to work with them. Ovation is really an unbelievable, wonderful residential facility.
Ovation Communities is committed to providing high-quality programming for its residents. Thanks to a recent generous endowment gift to the Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation, a new Chai Point Classical Music Fund has been established allowing for the return of live classical performances.
“We are beyond grateful for this gift and excited to see all the joy the Chai Point Classical Music Fund will bring to our residents, many of whom are classical music lovers,” said Tanya Mazor-Posner, Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation Vice President of Development. “Many of us haven’t been able to go out and hear live music over the past year, so we wanted to bring the music to Ovation.”
Classical music is often recognized for its calming effects and recent studies have found it can also positively enhance memory. The musical performances will be available to all residents through both in person and remote options
Originally from Sun Prairie, Wis., and attending University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire, Ally Thiel knew she wanted to work in the health care industry.
“Originally when I got to Eau Claire, I was a nursing major,” Thiel said. “I was also working as a CNA, and after about a year, I realized that nursing wasn’t for me.
I wanted to work more on the business side of health care.
“I had a friend in the Healthcare Administration Program, and she highly recommended it,” Thiel continued. “I looked into that, and I liked that it was a combination of the medical side of things, but also the business side of things, so I joined the program and changed my major.”
As part of the UW–Eau Claire Healthcare Administration program, students are required to participate in a 50-week administrative residency.
Interviewing at several facilities, including ones in Iowa and Minnesota, Thiel knew Ovation Communities was exactly where she wanted to be. Working directly with Katie Quintanilla, Jewish Home Administrator, Thiel has been able to experience every facet of senior living.
“When I interviewed with Katie, I knew this was my number one choice,” Thiel said. “I have really enjoyed it here and learning from everyone.”
Running from June 2021 through May 2022, Thiel takes her turn working with every department from nursing to admissions, marketing, and dining, learning how each department operates.
While she has, and is spearheading several projects, including a resident snack program, a falls prevention program, a school supply collection drive, and Teen Ovation, the most exciting and important part of the residency for Thiel has been getting to know the residents.
“During my Activities Department rotation, I got the chance to play trivia with the residents, and it was incredible how they knew every answer,” Thiel said. “People don’t give seniors enough credit. They often think that seniors aren’t paying attention. Then you play a game of trivia with them, and you realize they know more than you do.”
Throughout the residency, Thiel has been able to gain valuable experience and leadership skills that will help guide her over the course of her career.
“This program is so important and valuable, not just for the student to gaining real-world experience and opportunities in the day-to-day operations of a facility,” Quintanilla said. “But also, for the facility, having fresh eyes and having another team member being part of quality improvement projects to enhance the daily lives of residents
“One of the best things about Ally is her initiative,” Quintanilla continued. “She’s not afraid to ask the right questions and she’ll follow through on her own. My hope is that Ally continues her career in health care. She is such an empathetic, caring, and intuitive person. That is such a value to health care.”
As she approaches her May graduation, Thiel doesn’t know what the future holds but she would never rule out a return to Ovation Communities.
“Trish Cohn always says, ‘all roads lead back to Ovation.’ So, we’ll see what my future holds.”
Shalom! and hoping this latest issue of KAVOD finds you and your family well!
This past year has presented additional challenges to Ovation Communities as the pandemic lingers on. But, it has also afforded us an opportunity to continue innovating and planning for our future, while providing outstanding care and services for our residents, today. First, please know that the Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation remains strong and capable of helping our community’s elders. Please take a moment to review the Foundation’s brief Annual Report found by turning a few more pages.
During this past year we have attracted local students and young professionals though our newly created Teen Ovation and NextGen Ovation initiatives, engaging them to virtually visit our residents and developing future leaders for our communities.
In addition, we have innovated virtually by:
- expanding outreach through our Adult Day Programs, and by working with area agencies and synagogues. This ensures isolated older adults needs be met
- coordinating Israeli visits hosted by David Bitan, offering live tours of significant cultural sights accompanied by history lessons
- continued assurance for residents and families to gather virtually through FaceTime, Skype and other resources.
We are also so grateful for your support of our employees. Monthly luncheons sponsored by Hand-In-Hand are a needed and much appreciated respite for our very hard working and dedicated staff. Your donations to our Employee Appreciation Fund ensure that each employee receives a gift this holiday season.
Thank you for your continued support of our vision to Add Life to Lives, L’dor L’dor, From Generation to Generation.
Despite the challenges Ovation Communities has faced through this pandemic, it continues to follow its mission of providing a quality Jewish environment for residents with comfort, meaning, independence and dignity. Finding new and creative ways to engage with and help support residents, the Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation is an important pillar of the organization.
“This past fiscal year was extraordinary for many reasons, led by the ongoing pandemic and its emotional and financial impact on all of Ovation Communities,” said JHCCF VP of Development, Tanya Mazor-Posner. “Through the kindness of residents, families, volunteers and donors, we have been able to continue make an impact and add life to the lives of residents.”
In fiscal year 2021 the Foundation provided over $4 million in grants to Ovation Communities for operating cash, capital expenditures to upgrade and improve our buildings, and targeted underwriting of resident’s care, services, and activities.
The Foundation ended its year with $195,595,865 in net assets, represented by $140 million in unrestricted funds, $62 million in Board designated funds for resident financial assistance and future capital expenditures, and $24 million in temporarily restricted funds for the following purposes.
Temporarily Restricted Funds: ($000 Omitted)
Resident Care, Services and Activities $ 13,078
Spiritual Development $ 976
Facilities Support $ 13,004
Employee Education $ 2,468
Employee Appreciation $ 270
Greatest Needs Funds $ 3,906
“Adapting our programs amid the pandemic has been an exciting challenge,” Mazor-Posner said. “We have been able to increase our use of technology to continue and enhance the relationships formed pre pandemic. We are proud that we continued to impact their lives in many ways.”
- Residents at our three facilities: 502
- Adult Day Program attendees: 600; Total days of service: 3,244
- Volunteers: 90; Total hours volunteered: 1,000
- Geriatric Career Development students: 34; Total direct hours with our residents: 340
- Intergenerational programs: 32; with 266 students from 17 youth organizations and schools, engaging with 921 residents
We continue to remain strong in the face of this ongoing uncertainty because of your support,” Mazor-Posner 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.”