Touch Points – A Spark of Light with Dana

Hello Friends,

I hope you and your family are well. I am thinking of you and sending my positive thoughts and prayers. We are missing everyone, and hope to bridge the distance through this electronic connection.

We are in the Hebrew month of Elul; this is a special time of preparation leading up to the Jewish High Holidays. During this month, we begin a thoughtful inner dialogue to help us reflect, repent and prepare for Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). Throughout this period, we carefully examine our patterns, looking for cracked or damaged areas that may need healing. In addition, Elul provides a unique opportunity to look at any challenges and dreams.  What did we do well? How can we improve and make the coming year better?

This has been a challenging year!  Find the time and the space to reflect and prepare for the High Holidays. Use the ideas (below) to help guide your intention, prepare mentally, and heal spiritually. I hope the month of Elul brings you many opportunities for spiritual growth and loving connections.

“And above all, remember that the meaning of life is to build a life as if it were a work of art.” -Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel)


1.Getting Started and Setting Intention  A self-inventory is not always easy. So, before you begin to ask yourself questions, focus on quieting your mind. Strive for a peaceful openheartedness. Find the best time and space to encourage introspection. Be very intentional. Use these simple steps to set your intention:

  • Find a Peaceful Physical Space and a Calming Time- Where do you feel balanced and have a sense of shalom (peace)? Everyone is different. Perhaps this is a room in your home or a backyard space? Perhaps, nature promotes healing and wholeness.  If so, a lovely garden, a spot near Lake Michigan or even a park bench may bring you tranquility. What time of day are you at your best? Are you more alert in the morning or at night? Some people feel calm and refreshed in the morning. Personally, I love the stillness in the evening; the quiet night brings me peace and focus. Find your best time of day.
  • Quiet Your Mind and Body, Then Find Your Intention- Try deep breathing to induce relaxation. Quieting your body and mind can help you feel balanced before you begin. Close your eyes. Take in a breath. Let it fill your lungs deeply. Hold the breath, and in this moment, set your intention toward inward reflection. Let out your breath. Unwind, feel your body relaxing. Breathe deeply and let your mind go.
  • Aligned Your Physical and Mental State- Now that you are focused and calm, you may feel more committed and open to the process of introspection.

“When you set an intention, the universe conspires to give you the inspiration to make it happen.” -Trish McKinnley

2. Asking Yourself Questions to Encourage Healthy Reflection Imagine each of us has our own Book of Life; it is filled with all our words and actions. Rabbi Jessica Barolsky (and others) uses this concept. She suggests the High Holidays is a time to pause and look back at our own Book of Life. Rabbi Barolsky asks, “What would you find in your divine notebook?” It is up to us to fill it with the good, rather than the bad. Ask yourself questions to encourage self-reflection and hope. Pick questions that speak to your soul. Here are a few to get you started:

  • During the Past Year, What Would Your Proudest Moments Be?- Perhaps your words or deeds made a difference in someone’s life. Who did you touch in a loving or a meaningful way? What have you done that fills your heart with joy and blessings?
  • What Would You Want to Change?- What habit would you like to break? What do you want to work on during the next year? Begin practicing habits that will make you proud next year (when you look back).
  • Do You Need to Say You Are Sorry?- Think about all the relationships you have. Who do you need to connect with- a partner, spouse, parent, child, or friend? Reach out and seek forgiveness to anyone you have hurt. It is never too late to apologize.
  • What Are You Grateful For?- Blessings and gratitude come in many forms and bring love and peace.  What are the simple pleasures that make you smile? What revitalizes you? Have you noticed daily blessings? Perhaps there have been larger, more monumental, ones?
  • What More Can You do in the Coming Year to Help Tikkun Olam– Repairing the World?- We each have an obligation to continue to mend our imperfect world.  Find a cause that matters to you, and work to bring in more kindness and love. Imagine if we all made a small contribution- how enormous the outcome would be!  Let’s all do our part. Wake up each morning, find a way to be grateful, and use energy helping others.

If you see what needs to be repaired and how to repair it, then you have found a piece of the world that G-d has left for you to complete. But if you only see what is wrong and what is ugly in the world, then it is you yourself that needs repair.”

Menachem Mendel Schneerson

3. Using Traditions and Ideas for Inspiration-  “Rosh Hashanah does not burst in upon us.” (-Arthur Waskow) We can use this time to make ourselves ready. Be fully engaged and present throughout the month of Elul; enhance your experience.

3. Try a Little Brain Health-  Regular mental fitness exercise can boost memory, focus, and mental skills. Give your brain a daily workout!

Try this Elul brain health exercise. Draw an outline of your family home. Describe each room. Add details about colors, scents, and what you feel and hear in your home. What blessings and memories fill your rooms? Recall these details during your reflection.

4. Check out a “Museum Moment”-  Ellie Gettinger, Education Director at Jewish Museum Milwaukee, sat down with Rabbi Moishe Steigmann to discuss how to approach the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. In thinking about this time of reflection, how do you plan on preparing for a new year? Click here for this (14 minute) video:

5. Find a COVID-19 Vaccine-  I strongly urge you to get a Covid-19 vaccine! The Covid virus has mutated, becoming stronger with the very contagious Delta Variant.  Are you and everyone you love vaccinated?  If not, please get vaccinated today!  Do it for yourself, your family, and your community. Click here to find a vaccine near you:   Many locations offer same day and walk-in appointments. Do you have additional questions? Click here for more information from the CDC:

Set a goal so big you can’t achieve it until you grow into the person who can.”unknown

We have been through many challenges this year- in our world, in our community and in our families.  Certainly, there is no shortage of events and feelings to process! So, use this month to prepare, reflect and find additional meaning.  I hope the enclosed creative questions and ideas enhance your experience. Reflect on the past year and set goals and positive intentions for the year to come; recommit to the people, issues and connections that matter most.

As always, if you have a question related to aging, memory loss or caregiving, please do not hesitate to contact me.  I am here for you, and happy to help. You can find me here:

Thinking of you and sending all my positive energy and love,


  • August 23, 2021

Thriving in place with technology with Marc Cayle

This week in Partners in Ovation, Trish Cohn sits down with Marc Cayle.

From caring for both aging parents to becoming a franchise owner for a non-medical home care agency, Marc began to wonder what more could be done to help seniors thrive in place. Fast Forward to now, Marc Cayle is the Founder and CEO of Silver Maple solutions. He offers an array of technology devices that makes his dream from long ago, become a reality.




  • August 5, 2021

Touch Points- A Spark of Light with Dana

Hello Friends,

I hope you and your family are well. I am thinking of you and sending my positive thoughts and prayers. We are missing everyone, and hope to bridge the distance through this electronic connection.

Summertime in Milwaukee is THE BEST; our city has it all! …beautiful Lake Michigan, lovely parks, art, music, and exciting places to explore!  As a person that is ‘fully vaccinated,’ I am beginning to spend (face-to-face) time with people I love and venturing out.  That little ‘jab’ (shot) has made a monumental difference in my life. Although I continue to be careful and safe, getting immunized has provided a new sense of safety.  In fact, just last night, tears of joy ran down my face as I hugged dear friends for the first time in almost a year and half. My world has opened up as I am able to safely spend time with those I love and begin to partake in additional activities. I feel happiness and gratitude to be fully vaccinated and to experience these pleasures!

I want YOU to feel this too!  Have you received your Covid-19 vaccine yet? Getting a vaccine has never been easier.

Let’s make the most of this precious Milwaukee summertime!  Get your vaccine, and then safely take advantage of our beautiful town!   I hand-picked fun attractions and local gems for you; all the activities below can be easily adapted for loved ones with memory loss, or enjoyed as intergenerational activities. Additionally, many of these happenings don’t cost a dime!  With 19 clickable links and one delightful virtual invitation, you have gazillions of things to do! All you have to do is choose your favorite entertainment.

In addition, with Father’s Day just around the corner, use the ideas below as inspiration for your celebration!  On that note, I would like to give a shout-out to my two favorite Dads, my Father Howie, and my husband, Adam. I am blessed beyond measure to have these special men in my life. I love you lots!  Happy Father’s Day everyone; enjoy the day and the season!

“A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken.” -James Dent

Fun Milwaukee Summertime Ideas:

1.Spend Time Near the Water This is the season of outdoor fun, and our beautiful waters are a great city perk.  Spend a day, a few hours, or take a drive and enjoy the view from the car. Anyway you choose, you are sure to have a pleasurable outing. Summer is in the air and Milwaukee’s beautiful Lakefront (or other water source) is calling your name!

  • Discover a little Lakefront fun! Check out Bradford Beach or McKinley Marina- Sit on the beach, swim, watch a volleyball game, or just dip your toes in the water.  Whatever you do, Bradford Beach is sure to offer good people-watching and a lake breeze. Don’t forget to wear your hippest shades and bring/buy a cool drink.  Then, marvel at the McKinley Marina boats and the spectacular panoramic view!
  • Collect sunsets- Hit the Lake at sunset! Bring a snack, take in a cleansing breath, and savor the view. Breathtaking! How many sunsets will you see this summer?
  • Put on your walking shoes. Take a stroll or a bike ride along the Lakefront. Check out Lakeshore State Park:  Rent a paddle boat and cruise the lagoon on Veteran’s Park, right on Lincoln Memorial Drive. Click here for a map of the area:
  • Milwaukee Pierhead Lighthouse- Not only is this a fun afternoon excursion, this is another great photo opportunity! Snap a few pictures and feel like a model. Cindy Crawford eat your heart out!
  • The Milwaukee Riverwalk- Enjoy this fun two-mile walk downtown that is peppered with shops and restaurants. Along the way, stop and pose for a kitschy picture with The Bronze Fonz. “Aayyyyy!” Located on Wells Street, N Riverwalk Way.
  • There is no shortage of gorgeous water views in our city! Also, try the Menomonee River, the Milwaukee River or the Kinnickinnic River! Wander the Riverwalk or be adventurous in a kayak!

“Everyone should believe in something. I believe I should go to the beach.” -unknown

2. “Lions and Tigers and Bears… Oh my!”- Visit your favorite animals at the Milwaukee County Zoo. Our Zoo is home to over 3,000 animals! I have enjoyed this wholesome fun as a child, as a teen and even as an adult! Spend a few hours, or stay the entire day. This is a favorite for kids of all ages!

  • Click here to plan your Zoo visit:
  • Did you know a new hippo habitat was completed last year? This is home to the Zoo’s two hippopotamus- a 40 year-old male, Happy, and a 52-year-old female, Patti.  Oy vey, Patti and I are the same age! Who knew?!? Click here to watch Happy swimming in the underwater viewing tank (41 second video).

Mazel Tov! Three new babies were recently born at the Zoo. The new babies include a bushbaby, a prehensile tailed porcupine and a Japanese macaque born on Monkey Island. Click here to read more about our newest additions, and see Mohol galago baby, Grogu, and mom making a special appearance.

3. Parks-  Did you know that we have over 150 parks?! After looking at this website you will be amazed at all the options! We have something for everyone! For example, there are:  scenic trails, golf courses, beer gardens, beaches and nature trails. Click here for the website and to look for just the perfect choice.  If it is harder to get out right now, no worries! On this website, click on “Nature Areas” and appreciate the beauty from home.  Since there are so many park options, I have highlighted a few.

  • Milwaukee’s Oak Leak Trail– This trail winds it’s way throughout the city and is a great way to enjoy greenery without leaving town. Click here to pick an area to start:
  • You cannot go wrong at Lake Park. This Milwaukee gem has it all- winding paths, meadow-like areas, surprising vistas, and a view of the Lake. Before your visit, click here for more information.
  • Visit Doctors Park in the Fox Point/Bayside area. I have loved this park my entire life! This park has beautiful picnic areas, a great play area for your children/grandchildren, and a spectacular path to Lake Michigan’s beach. Spend a few hours there, and feel like you went on vacation.  For more info:

“I was made for sunny days.” -Unknown

4. The Famers Markets-  Honestly, shopping and roaming around a good Farmers Market is one of my top five things to do. I love it! Famers Markets are a true joy for the senses! Enjoy the fresh smells, feel the warm summer breeze and take in the bright colors and shapes!  To keep everyone safe, markets have Covid precautions in place. In addition, “a growing number of farmers markets across Milwaukee accept federal nutrition benefits such as SNAP, WIC, and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program vouchers.” So enjoy an open-air fresh market, support our local farmers, and eat healthier food! Click here for more information and to find your favorite location (or try a new one each week).

5. Explore These Novel Ideas:

  • Milwaukee Public Market -This two-story market offers unique vendors and many delicious treats. Wander through the market and pick out lunch. For example, there is a variety of fish, chocolate, coffee and cheese. Just give it a try- you will not be disappointed! Click here to browse or for more information:
  • The Milky Way Drive-In- Want a little nostalgia? The Milky Way Drive-In is an outdoor movie theater at Ballpark Commons in Franklin, Wisconsin. This is the Milwaukee area’s first new drive-in theater in decades! Click here for more information and schedule:
  • Visit the Milwaukee Art Museum-  This striking building, designed by Sanitago Calatrava, will impress. The Milwaukee Art Museum is a jewel in our city! Make a point to visit at noon when the iconic “wings” on the Calatrava building “flap,” or walk into the main atrium and enjoy the breathtaking view from inside. Click here for more information and times:   You can also click here to enjoy virtual tours and interesting videos:
  • Outdoor Concerts- Almost any night of the summer, you can find a free outdoor concert. There are diverse locations and music. Pick your favorites and give a few a try.  This is an especially lovely treat on a warm summer night.

6. Stay a Little Closer to Home- Some of my favorite memories are in the backyard! If getting out is a little difficult these days, make summer memories closer to home. Why not try a summer potluck? Have friends/family bring something to share. Click here for crowd pleasing ideas: Make it even simpler, and serve finger foods like cheese and crackers, hummus and veggies and fresh fruit. Or, better still, feel the sunshine on your face as you eat a popsicle together. It doesn’t have to be complicated; it is the time together that matters.

“Collect moments not things.” -unknown

7. Try A Little Brain Health-  Regular mental fitness exercise can help your cognition. Print out these handouts and have fun keeping your brain fit. Enjoy the two attached exercises.

  • Using the letters of the alphabet, list all the words associated with outdoor activities.
  • Try a summer word search. Find and circle all the hidden words on the grid. The remaining letters spell a message about summer.

8. Check out a “Summer Camp Museum Moment”-   Ellie Gettinger, Education Director at the Jewish Museum Milwaukee discusses summer camp. Summer camp is a formative time for kids of all backgrounds. Every summer, children from all over the country flood into Wisconsin for summer camps, providing connection to lakes and forests throughout the state. Check out this ‘Museum Moment’ to learn more about the history of Jewish summer camps in our state. Did you go to a summer camp? How did getting outside (be it in nature or a different routine) impact who you are?  Click here:

9. Looking for a Special Event? -You Are Invited to “Life Through Art and Film: Project Hue”   Please join us for an uplifting and innovative event that highlights the lives of people we serve in Ovation Adult Day Services. “Life Through Art and Film: Project Hue” is scheduled virtually on Thursday, June 24th from 3-4PM. Sit back and enjoy life stories through paintings and short videos. There will be a live Q&A following the event. By attending, you help the honorees celebrate their lives. The invitation and Zoom link are below. Simply click on the Zoom link to join this inspiring program!

“Hello summer, I have been waiting for you.” Unknown

I hope these ideas elevate your Father’s Day celebration and summertime fun!  Get your vaccine, and safely enjoy the many fabulous activities Milwaukee has to offer. As always, if you have a question related to aging, memory loss or caregiving, please do not hesitate to contact me.  I am here for you, and happy to help. You can find me here:

Thinking of you and sending all my positive energy and love,


  • June 24, 2021


Hello Friends,

I hope you and your family are well. I am thinking of you and sending my positive thoughts and prayers. We are missing everyone, and hope to bridge the distance through this electronic connection.

Thankfully, the weather is warmer, the sun is shining and we are spending more time outside. After a year+ of considerable time spent in our homes, many happy Wisconsinites are stepping outdoors and gardening. Gardening is not only a productive way to enjoy nature, it is also beneficial to our health and wellbeing.

Gardening provides exercise. Since some of us have been more sedentary during the pandemic, committing to even light gardening boosts the metabolism and engages muscles.  The physical movement of digging, raking, weeding, and watering burns calories and may strengthen muscles. (Of course, with any physical activity, please check with your doctor first.)  In addition, regular exercise, like moderate gardening, can help prevent memory loss. According to a study from the Medical Journal of Australia, a daily dose of gardening lowers the risk of dementia.

Gardening is also a mood enhancer and has psychological benefits.  For example, gardening can increase serotonin, a chemical in our brain which helps boost overall mood. Gardening may also lower cortisol, the body’s main stress hormone. News and World Reports states, “Gardening has a wide range of mood benefits, such as reductions in depression, anxiety and anger, as well as increases in happiness.” (-Preventive Medicine Reports study)

While you are receiving the glorious physical and psychological benefits from gardening, it is important to be prepared and stay safe.  While some sun exposure is healthy, obviously, please use care. Even if the sun does not feel hot, the damaging ultraviolent rays are still at work. Wear a wide-brim hat, slather on the sunscreen, drink fluids, and take breaks as needed. In addition, if someone has challenges with dexterity, please make modifications. Lightweight gardening tools may help.

Of course, everyone does not have a yard or is able to plant a garden. However, you can still enjoy the pleasures of gardening through windowsill/container gardening, amusing garden inspired activities and/or tasty garden-fresh recipes. The possibilities are endless!

So, what are you waiting for? Put on your schelppy (Yiddish for run-down) clothes and let’s experience the joys of gardening! It is easier than you think!

“The earth has music for those who listen.” (-William Shakespeare) 


Enjoy the Benefits of Digging in the Dirt:

1. Therapeutic Benefits of Gardening and Caring for Plants There are magical and abundant lessons in gardening.

  • Gardening gives us time to meditate and think. Try to relax and get into the “zone” while you garden. Use this time to quietly reflect. Allow yourself to drift off as you work, finding a magical state of mindfulness.
  • Our world needs many things right now, but we all need to stay positive, continue growing and moving forward. Audrey Hepburn said, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”  How wise!  Keep an optimistic mindset and look forward to your beautiful flowering stalks and new growth. Gardening shows us, first-hand, there is always something to hope for.
  • Gardens remind us that investing time and energy can bring amazing returns. After we plant a seed, we lovingly tend to it by regularly watering and weeding. With a little luck, and a lot of patience and consistent care, ultimately, we will reap remarkable gifts.  Isn’t this true of almost everything in life? For example, with love, patience, and consistent attention and care, children and relationships thrive. William Wordsworth said, “Let nature be your teacher.”
  • Gardens remind us of the beauty in nature. Enjoy the moment, and experience nature’s gifts. Soak in the feeling of gratitude and abundance. A garden is a little slice of heaven.
  • For our friends caring for a loved-one with memory loss, gardening can provide a social activity, and may enhance your love-one’s sense of purpose. Gardening can be a productive, bright, joy-filled activity.

“Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes.” -author unknown

2. Container Gardening and Tips- Not everyone is able to garden outside, but everyone has a windowsill or a container!   If you are intimidated, start small with just a few houseplants or a pot. Personally, I have tried container gardening many times. When I was first married, we lived in downtown Chicago. Instead of a yard, we only had a small patio/deck. Still, we were able to successfully plant cucumbers in a pot. In addition, I am currently growing two herb plants.  For easy access when I cook, I found a sunny spot for them inside my home. I am happy to report that my basil and mint plants are flourishing!  I hope you will be encouraged by the ideas below:

“Play in the dirt. Because life is too short to always have clean fingernails.”

3. Grow Veggies From Scraps! –  Did you know that you can regrow some common veggies from scraps?  I think this is slightly incredible! Foods like: potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, celery, bulb fennel, carrots, beets, lettuce, cabbages, basil, mint, and cilantro can all be grown in this way. Expand your harvest with this fun and easy way to grow your veggies. Click here for instructions and pictures; read this article by Elizabeth Waddington:

4. Fresh Produce Recipe Ideas- This pescatarian gets very excited by fresh summer veggies and fruit. There are many delightful, and often easy ways to enjoy produce. Below are a few anecdotes and recipes.

  • A quick story… When I was 19 years old and a student in Madison, I was blessed to have had a summer internship with a creative, fun, interesting, funky, and kind woman, Jill M. She opened my young eyes to things I still love today: National Public Radio, Concerts on the Square (in Madison), and my beloved Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen. Oh Mollie, I love you so! While Mollie Katzen offers many extraordinary recipes, sometimes her simple ones are my favorites. So, when you harvest your tomatoes, make sure you try this recipe. Mollie Katzen suggests impressing your lunch guests with a broiled open-faced sandwich like this, “ On rye or pumpernickel or herb bread:  Some fancy Dijon-type mustard, some home-made mayonnaise, a very thin slice of onion, a very thin slice of tomato, some thin rings of sweet red or green pepper, and a slice of the finest cheese in the room.  Broil till cheese begins to turn brown.”  (By the way, I use store-bought mayo. I am not so fancy.)
  • I am so glad you decided to grow cucumbers! They have always been my favorite veggie in our garden. Perhaps that is because I grew up watching my Grandmother Mildred, my Mom and all my incredible aunts make dill pickles.  I remember bushels of cucumbers, gigantic bunches of fresh dill, pickling spices and people… so many relatives- all smashed into my Grandparent’s west-side kitchen. The women buzzed around, washing mounds of pickles, and talking loudly while they carefully canned the pickles. Throughout the year, it was a huge delicacy to eat the pickles that had been brewing for months!  Yum- a true Kosher dill pickle treat. We couldn’t wait! Do you have a family pickle recipe?

If you are looking for other ways to enjoy your cucumbers, click here to read “36 Cucumber Recipes to Make This Summer” (-Taste of Home).

5. Garden Inspired Activities and Inspiration!  Enjoy gardening in a variety of ways:  appreciate gardens close to home, enjoy a famous garden from around the world, or try a few inspired activities.  All the activities below can be easily adapted for our loved ones with memory loss or enjoy as intergenerational activities.

  • The Keukenhof– Located in South Holland in the town of Lisse, the Keukenhof is the largest flower garden on earth! This garden is home to seven million tulips! This relaxing and beautiful virtual tour is sure to inspire you. Click here for this 7 minute video:
  • Visit Boerner Botanical Gardens- Stroll the grounds in this beautiful local garden (located in Whitnall Park). Enjoy dozens of blooming gardens throughout the year. Click here for more information:
  • Make the World’s Cutest Garden Markers- Honestly, the ideas are ridiculously charming. Click here:
  • Vote for Your Favorite Flowers– Grab a loved one or a dear friend, and take a walk in your neighborhood, or drive to a deluxe neighborhood, and vote for your favorite garden or flowers.
  • Take Pictures of Your Favorites!– While you are admiring your preferred flowers, don’t forget to take a few pictures. If they are gorgeous, consider framing them to enjoy all year long!
  • Buy Fresh Flowers– If you can’t plant, you can still enjoy the beauty of fresh flowers. Visit a floral shop or grocery store and pick up your favorite bouquet. We all need to stop and smell the roses!
  • Enjoy a Coffee Table Gardening Book- Learn more about gardening through words and pictures. Read together and discuss the ideas with your loved one. Consider borrowing a few books from the library. What a treat!


6. Try A Little Brain Health-  Regular mental fitness exercise can help your cognition. Print out these creative food related handouts and have fun keeping your brain fit. Enjoy the three attached exercises.

  • Jumbled Fruits and Vegetables Handout- Unscramble the jumbled words.
  • Grocery Store Scavenger Hunt Handout- Test your memory speed and complete the questions as fast as possible. Then, go back and recheck your work. How did you do?
  • Alphabetize the Berries- After you alphabetize the berries, “google” and read about any unfamiliar berries.  I love berries, but haven’t had the pleasure of eating all the berries listed.  Make it a point to buy those berries at the grocery store or farmer’s market. Eating a new berry and learning something new is delicious, and good for your brain health! It’s a win-win!

“We may think we are nurturing our garden, but of course, it’s really our garden that is really nurturing us.”Jenny Uglow

Appreciate the many gifts gardening brings. This joyful, healthy pursuit is good for your body, mind and soul. So, happy digging everyone! I would love to hear what you did to bring more growth and beauty into your life through gardening. As always, if you have a question related to aging, memory loss or caregiving, please do not hesitate to contact me.  I am here for you, and happy to help. You can find me here:

Thinking of you and sending all my positive energy and love,


  • June 24, 2021

Ovation Employees Recognized for Excellence in Resident Care and Customer Service

The Maurice S. Surlow Recognition Award for Employee Excellence was established in 2000 and made possible by a bequest to the Jewish Home & Care Center Foundation from the estate of Mr. Surlow to the Milwaukee Jewish Federation.

Mr. Surlow immigrated to Milwaukee from Hungary in the early part of the 20th Century and became a successful retail owner. He was also passionate about our Jewish community. Working closely with family members, Bob, Burt, Jim and Debbie Zucker who conceived the award for excellence, a team of staff at the Jewish Home developed an innovative program that would recognize staff members who made special efforts to care for residents with the best customer service.

The 2021 Maurice S. Surlow Recognition Award for Employee Excellence winners are:

Left to Right: Michael Sattell, President/CEO,
Vicky Mack– LPN,
Gedaliah Lieberman– Mashgiach,
Joycel Tayone –Oasis Server,
Katie Quintanilla, Jewish Home Administrator

Left to Right: Michael Sattell, President/CEO,
Carolyn Schuman– Social Worker,
Trish Cohn, Chai Point Executive Director

In honor of Maurice S. Surlow and this year’s award winners, all Ovation employees were treated to lunch.



  • June 21, 2021

New Technology Keeps The Music Playing, Improves Emotional Wellbeing for Jewish Home Residents

Early this year the activities department at Ovation Jewish Home started using a new app to engage residents through personalized music. SOLO, developed by a technology startup company in Israel, uses facial recognition to match a user’s playlist to their mood.

Research suggests that music provides emotional and behavioral benefits for older adults, especially those with dementia and cognitive issues. Songs and melodies can evoke serenity, energy and movement, as well as nostalgia, memory and a renewed experience of past emotions.

The Ovation activities team helps residents set up tailored SOLO profiles with tags for language, music genre and other preferences. When a resident uses the app, a facial scan recognizes seven emotions from 42 muscles, and plays music adapted to their current emotional state. For instance, calming music might be used to relieve anxiety and upbeat songs to ease sadness.

“Music allows people to become more engaged in their reality,” said Kevin Farinelli, Music Therapist at Ovation Jewish Home. “It’s really wonderful to see someone’s face light up when they’re listening to the languages, sounds, and songs they love.”

During the pandemic, the new technology has also allowed caregivers to engage residents one-on-one simultaneously at a time when many larger group activities are on hold. It allows the listener to feel part of a broader group and community, through the commonality of song.

While long-term care providers and hospitals in other countries including Israel, Russia, and Japan are already using SOLO, Ovation Communities is the first senior living provider in the U.S. to pilot the program. The app subscription is funded by a grant from the Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation.


  • June 21, 2021