Beth Draper Retiring After Years of Working with Volunteers

Beth has always worked in the Jewish community. She began her career teaching kindergarten at the Milwaukee Jewish Day School in 1986 and taught there until 2009. Thereafter, she worked as the Sunday School principal for Congregation Shir Hadash and then found her way Ovation Communities as the first formal Volunteer Coordinator. Beth turned the program established by Hand in Hand into the professional program that it is today.

“Beth has brought our volunteer department from so-so, to a very large and diverse group of people, young and old,” said Mary Anne-Selby, Hand in Hand and Ovation Jewish Home Board Member. “These volunteers have given their time to fill the lives of our residents with happiness, joy and companionship.”

When Beth began her tenure, she was told to remember one important rule: “Volunteers are golden to our organization, so be sure to treat them that way.” Many of our volunteers have been involved with our organization through generations.

Throughout her journey as the volunteer manager, Beth developed community partnerships with local universities. In 2012, Beth received the Community Partner Award from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee on behalf of Ovation’s volunteer program. Under Beth’s leadership Ovation Communities has won several awards for its volunteer program.

“If you put in as much effort enjoying your retirement as you have working for Ovation Communities, it is sure to be a success,” said Arleen Peltz, Board Member and Past Board Chair, Ovation Jewish Home and the Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation.

  • December 22, 2021

Residents Go On Virtual Tours of Israel

While the pandemic has presented many challenges in providing enriching activities for residents, it also presented some very unique opportunities. This summer, Israeli educator and Ovation collaborator David Bitan led numerous virtual tours of Israel for residents and community members.

David toured locations throughout Israel which showcased Jewish history, Israel’s history, military prowess, culture, and charming slices of Israeli life. These tours were featured and recorded on Zoom and have now been posted to the Foundation’s YouTube channel so that residents and other community members can enjoy them at their leisure.

“To bring Israel to the community in the midst of this pandemic is one of the most fantastic ideas that we came up with in partnership with one another,” Bitan said. “To connect Ovation’s residents to Israel, its landscapes, and historical sites, warms the heart and soul.”


Virtual tours

have included:

  • The Old City o f Jerusalem
  • Neveh Zedek neighborhood of Tel-Aviv
  • Tel-Faher in the Golan Heights
  • Caesaria,
  • Um El Umdan (in Modiin)
  • Old Jaffa
  • a kibbutz tour
  • Zichron Yaakov
  • The Kastel and Mini Israel.

This program was made possible through a grant by the Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation.


  • December 21, 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.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I am trying to approach each day with a grateful heart. Did you know that social science research outlines how giving thanks and practicing gratitude can benefit us? Gratitude can increase our sense of balance and calm, enhance optimism, help us cope with stress, and improve our physical well-being. It is incredible that simple, appreciative thoughts can make a huge impact!

Sometimes, feeling a sense of gratitude is easy, and in more challenging times, like now, we may need to search for this optimistic outlook. However, all of us have something to be thankful for.  So, let’s get inspired, and start living life with a grateful heart. This “Touch Points” focuses on the importance of cultivating gratitude, how gratitude has the ability to make us happier and healthier, and a variety of ways to incorporate this practice into our lives.  For my friends caring for a loved-one with memory loss, most of the suggestions can be easily adapted. I hope you will find ways to personalize the techniques and make them work for your family. This is not one size fits all, so read the suggestions below and see what resonates. Commit to one or two techniques, and notice how your outlooks feels lighter and brighter!

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more.  If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” -Oprah Winfrey

     1.Ways to Cultivate the Habit of Grateful Thinking

  • Start by paying attention and being mindful of your daily blessings. Be aware of little things each day that you are grateful for. There are simple things that might come to mind, so challenge yourself to find one new appreciation each day. There is nothing too small to be grateful for. For example, I was grateful that we had oatmeal and brown sugar in the house; that is exactly what I wanted to eat!
    • Make the practice of gratitude social– Try to think about another person and why you are grateful. What has that person said or done to enrich your life or make it easier? Then, if you are able, share these warm feelings with the person.  You might talk about your appreciation during a meal, Facetime call, phone call or a letter. This moment can facilitate a beautiful, loving connection.
    • Find gratitude even during the challenging times. I think a pandemic certainly counts as a challenge! Don’t you?! So, even now, try to be aware of what you are grateful for. Daily, I am grateful for snuggles from my tiny, old dog, Maggie. What are you grateful for?
    • Keep a daily gratitude journal or list– Get in the habit of expressing your gratitude daily. In the morning when you wake up, or before you go to bed, write a list of five things you are grateful for. Try this with your loved-one. Once you have a few entries, enjoy spending moments reading them again. I guarantee you will smile.
    • Say grace after meals.- In Judaism, we say “Birkat Hamazon” to give thanks to G-d for our food and for the nourishment. Let us also give thanks to the people making our meals. We are all blessed to have a full belly. AMEN!

If your belly is full, then find a way to help people that are not as fortunate.  Show your gratitude through tzedukah or charity. Many people in Milwaukee are “food insecure” and do not have enough to eat.  The Milwaukee Jewish Pantry, is a Jewish response to hunger in our city. Click here to learn more and to donate to this worthy cause.

    • Take a gratitude stroll– Go for a walk and notice all the things you are grateful for. It is healthy for us to get out of the house, even for a little while. If you can, bundle up and take a walk, and if it’s too difficult, then sit outside. Use all your senses. Feel the sun on your face, feel the wind in your hair, and hear the leaves rustling. What a glorious experience; savor this moment.
    • Try a gratitude breathing exercise– Before we start, think of one or two things you are grateful for and keep them in your mind. Get comfortable in a chair with arms and close your eyes. Put your hand on your heart, and be mindful of the moment. As you breathe in through your nose, think about a moment in your life you are deeply grateful for or something you cherish. Hold it for a few seconds, breathe it in, and feel it. Then breathe out through your mouth. Try this a few times and feel the grace in this moment. (Only do the exercise two times so you don’t feel light-headed.)

“There is a calmness to a life lived in gratitude, a quiet joy.” (-Ralph H. Blum)

     2. Try “Grateful” Brain Health Exercises-

Regular mental fitness can help your cognition. Have fun with these inspirational exercises. Complete by yourself, and then share with a loved-one. Notice how your happiness grows with a grateful perspective.

  • List people in your life you are grateful for, and why? Write what you like about them.
  • Name your favorite experience this past year, and describe why it was so memorable.
  • Describe a favorite smell that always makes you smile. What about a sound, sight, or sensation? For me, my favorite smell is chicken soup. Even though I am vegetarian, I still love the smell of chicken soup. It reminds me of my Yiddishe Grandma Mildred’s giant pot of simmering chicken soup, and family gatherings. It feels like a warm hug, unconditional love and my beautiful, large family. (Picture the movie- My Big Fat Greek Wedding, but everyone is Jewish, eating chicken soup. That’s my family. 😊)
  • Describe something weird or random that brings you joy. (This is my favorite question! I can’t wait to hear what you said!)

“Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy.” -Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

     3. Watch the Jewish Museum Milwaukee’s “Museum Moment”-

In 1790, George Washington wrote a letter to the congregation of Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island. In this letter, he indicates that Jews and all members of minority religions will be able to practice freely in the new United States. This Museum Moment explores the history of Washington’s letter and its importance to American Jews.  In thinking about gratitude at this time of Thanksgiving, consider the way in which Jewish identity and American identity are connected. Learn more – watch this 26 minute video:

     4. Be Safe- Get a COVID-19 Vaccine Today!-  In the Spirit of Gratitude, I am SO Grateful for the Covid-19 Vaccine!

The COVID-19 Vaccine and the COVID-19 booster shots are available. I strongly urge you to get a Covid-19 vaccine. 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.
  • Who is eligible for a Covid-19 Vaccine booster shot?
  • In-home vaccinations are available!  Simply call (414) 286-6800 to schedule. Do you have difficulty leaving your home, live in Milwaukee County, and have trouble accessing the support needed to get the COVID-19 Vaccine? No problem! Call for an appointment.
  • Do you have questions or feel hesitant?  There are many ways to find the answers you need. Call and speak to an expert or click on the websites below. Have your questions answered and then make an appointment today.
  1. Click here for more information from the CDC:
  2. Check out The City of Milwaukee Health Department website:
  3. Call the State Hotline:  1-844-684-1064

“If you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul.” -Rabbi Harold Kushner

I would love to hear what you enjoyed, and what practices you are incorporating into your life. Have you felt more optimism and light?  Gratitude is a powerful tool that allows our hearts to link to others in love and in peace. Thank you for adding beauty and meaning in my world. I am grateful for each of you.

As always, if you have a question about memory loss, our programs, community resources or caregiving- I am here for you, and happy to help. Please do not hesitate to contact me. You can find me here:

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


  • November 16, 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.

Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) are built-in markers to help us pause and reflect. This year, Yom Kippur begins at sunset on September 15 and ends at sundown on September 16.  During this time, we turn inward. We push ourselves to look back over the past year, ask for forgiveness and open ourselves up to the possibilities in the year to come. For many of us, each year there is a similarity to the approach; we are guided by our teachings. Still, we each are moved by different things. What helps you move toward goodness and peace? My “neshamah” (the Jewish notion of the soul) is sparked when I dig a little deeper to find the symbolism and meaning behind our customs, or I enhance reflection with beautiful music or other meaningful words.  This intentional combination pushes my heart and soul in the right direction as I strive “to do better and be better.”

For many of us, this year will be different. Some individuals may be comfortable attending in-person synagogue-based services (with a mask please), while others prefer a home-based holiday. Whatever you choose is perfectly okay; we can find contemplation and spiritual renewal in either location. Do not allow the physical distance to become a barrier to your introspection.   Reflect and connect with yourself, friends and loved ones, and G-d.  I hope this Touch Points will remind you of the beautiful symbolism behind our traditions, and provide additional ways to augment the holiday with musical links and inspiration.  With a little thought and intention, this time will be sacred and special.


  1. Teshuvah– This is one of the central aspects of the Holidays. Teshuvah literally means to return.

Honestly look back over the past year and assess your actions. Find the courage to accept your faults and transgressions, and strive to be better in the coming year.  This can be a transformative journey. Rabbi Sara Sapadin says, “Teshuvah is not about concealing our imperfections, it is about facing them.” Interestingly, there is a Teshuva “formula.” In order to change or “turn back” to your best self, follow these steps: recognize the wrong or error, take responsibility for your action/behavior, feel and express regret, apologize and ask for forgiveness (this could be to yourself, other people, or G-d), and plan on how you will improve and change the behavior in the future. Author Estelle Frankel says, “Through Teshuva we always have the power and freedom to begin anew so that our past need not determine our future.”

One way I enhance my intention when reflecting is by listening to inspiring music. The prayer Avinu Malkeinu is recited on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. This is an extremely powerful prayer. Click below to hear Barbra Streisand sing this undeniably gorgeous Avinu Malkeinu (4 minutes).

“Nobody’s perfect.  We make mistakes. We say wrong things. We do wrong things. We fall. We get up. We learn. We grow. We move on. We live.” -unknown

2. Forgiveness   Rabbi Leah Berkowitz discusses the blessing of a genuine apology- both given and received. What makes a good apology? Rabbi Berkowitz states, “It is important to find the right words to tell people we have hurt, that we are sorry.” Be kind to yourself and to each other- offer amends and accept forgiveness. A sincere apology is a sign of strength. I hope we can all find insight to let go of anger and resentment, and find peace. Only then, we will stand in the light.

“Forgiveness is the best form of love. It takes a strong person to say sorry and an even stronger person to forgive.” -unknown

3. Remember Those we Have Lost– The Yizkor liturgy on Yom Kippur gives us time to reflect and remember our loved ones that are departed. Thinking of their admired qualities and reflecting on their lives brings a sense of closeness and connection. It also elevates our own perspective and meaning for the High Holidays. In my family, following services, we often share the warm memories of a loved one that has passed away. Even though my eyes fill with tears, my heart fills with so much love and gratitude to have had them in my life. May their memories continue to be a blessing.

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” -Winnie the Pooh

4. Shofar The Shofar is a musical instrument made of a ram’s horn. Traditionally, the shofar is blown throughout the Hebrew month of Elul and during the High Holidays. Rabbi Ilana Schachter says that “Blowing the shofar can shake us from complacency, and can wake us up from a spiritual slumber. The sound of the shofar reminds us of important spiritual work we have yet to do.” I pray the sound of the shofar awakens us personally, and as a society. Let us acknowledge where we fell short, and how we will do more in the coming year to promote love, kindness and compassion. Amen!

5. Prayer- Our synagogues are doing everything possible to stay close and reach us during this atypical time. Each synagogue has its own plan for health and safety. What is your plan for Yom Kippur? If it’s your practice, you might choose a synagogue that offers services virtually. A variety of Milwaukee synagogues offer High Holiday Zoom links.

G-d hears our voices everywhere. If you aren’t able or comfortable praying in person or virtually, find your own way to speak to G-d. Share your mind and heart. Personally, there have been a few years I have been unable to attend services. Instead, I took out our prayer book and read the entire service at home by myself; I focused on pieces that had the most meaning to me. The stillness and the silence in our home added to my kavanah, or intention.  This challenging year may be an wonderful opportunity to reach a new direction of the heart.

  • Consider expanding your prayers this year. Pray for the doctors, nurses, and essential workers that provide care and services to help us all. We cannot forget or underestimate how difficult their jobs are. Pray to keep them safe, bring them comfort and send them additional strength to do their good work.
  • Let us all send heartfelt “Mi Shebeirach” prayers (healing prayers) for those that are sick with Covid or to those that have lost people from this pandemic. Covid-19 is felt all over the world, and many people need our prayers.
  • Click here for Debbie Friedman’s “Mi Shebeirach– A Prayer for Healing”-  Debbie Friedman – Mi Shebeirach (2001) – Bing video


“…As You maintain harmony in the heavens, give peace to us, the whole Jewish People, and to all who dwell on earth. Amen.”
Mahzor Lev Shalem

 6. Be Safe- Please Get a COVID-19 Vaccine Today!-  The FDA granted full approval of Pfizer’s 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. Information below:

  • Click here to find a vaccine near you:   Many locations offer same day and walk-in appointments.
  • In-home vaccinations are available!  Simply call (414) 286-6800 to schedule. Do you have difficulty leaving your home, live in Milwaukee County, and have trouble accessing the support needed to get the COVID-19 Vaccine? No problem! Appointments are usually scheduled on Mondays, Wednesdays or Fridays between 9am-2pm.  Please share this important number with those that need it.
  • Do you have questions or feel hesitant?  There are many ways to find the answers you need. Call and speak to an expert or click on the websites below. Have your questions answered and then make an appointment today.
    1. Click here for more information from the CDC:
    2. Check out The City of Milwaukee Health Department website:
    3. Call the State Hotline:  1-844-684-1064.

Wishing everyone a meaningful Yom Kippur. May you be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life for a good year.

As always, if you have a question, 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,


  • September 13, 2021

A Message From The CEO

Welcome to our Fall issue of Kavod.  Inside please read about some of the many ongoing, and new initiatives we champion. All of which are intended to add life to the lives of all the residents at Ovation Communities.

Of particular inspiration, is the spotlight on our Geriatric Career Development program (GCD), and especially on Ashanti Tate, CNA, a member of our first graduating class.  We are so proud that Ashanti has chosen to join our caregiving staff!  We are incredibly proud that her desire to be a caregiver led her to join our initial class three years ago. Her dedication and diligence, along with our support to help her obtain her license and guidance towards successful graduation, has culminated in the beginning of a bright and successful career.

We are proud that we can offer such an outstanding program focused on providing a pathway to graduation for Milwaukee high school students. Ashanti is the first of what we hope are many returning graduates that have been mentored by us to care for our loved ones in a compassionate and professional way.

We are incredibly grateful for your support of this program; it costs approximately $5,000 per year, per student, to make a difference in their own life and our community’s life.  We could not continue this effort without your compassionate generosity:  Right now, we are proud to report that we have 40 students enrolled and our alumni group is growing!

Ashanti said, “Learning and working here has been very rewarding, and at the end of the day, I love my residents.”

We’re kvelling! I hope you are too.  You help make these dreams come true.  All in honor of our elders, and in the interest of bringing life to their lives!

With so much gratitude for your ongoing support,



  • September 9, 2021

Golden Alliance Dinner Honors Annual Donors

In 1992 the Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation established The Golden
Alliance to help support its Greatest Needs Fund.

“The Golden Alliance is vital to the ongoing operation of Ovation Communities,” said Tanya Mazor-Posner, JHCC Foundation Vice President of Development. “Through the Golden Alliance, members contribute an annual gift that helps ensure residents
consistently receive excellent care as part of a nurturing community, who otherwise could not afford to live at Ovation Communities.

“All donors are important, but the fact that this group makes an annual contribution to our most important fund is something so critical,
especially at this point in our history during a pandemic.”

Showing great appreciation to the almost 90 Golden Alliance members who give gifts annually, Ovation communities hosts an annual dinner to thank them, and show them the importance of their giving.

For the second year in a row, the Golden Alliance Dinner was held virtually through Zoom. This year members received a catered, home delivered meal through Hannah’s Kitchen.

“In addition to dinner, every year speakers are brought in to present on various topics of interest,” Mazor-Posner said. “This year, to discuss a book they wrote about the life of Helen Daniels Bader are, President and CEO of Bader Philanthropies, David Bader; Deirdre Britt who serves as chair for the Helen Bader Daniels Advisory Committee and board secretary; and freelance writer and former education reporter at the Milwaukee Journal, Priscilla Pardini.

“Bader Philanthropies’ support is synonymous in the entire community, but particularly here at Ovation Communities,” Mazor-Posner continued. “Helen Daniels Bader used to be a social worker here at Ovation Jewish Home. Learning about her life is also a nice tie in because Bader Philanthropies helped to fund our Helen Bader Original Floor.”

Since March of 2020, life at Ovation Communities for residents has been turned upside-down. The support received from volunteers and donors has been more important than ever.

To learn more about the Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation and ways you can support our mission, please contact Tanya Mazor-Posner at 414-721-9260 or by email at

  • September 9, 2021

Meet Bailey Kissack…Chai Point’s New Student Artist in Residence

Ovation Chai Point welcomes a new resident this fall, 21-year-old Bailey Kissack. Bailey, a senior at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee studying theater production and film, is Ovation’s eighth student artist in residence.

The Student Artist in Residence program was developed more than 10 years ago in partnership with the UWM Creative Trust, an alliance committed to fostering life-long learning through the arts and transforming aging in the process. The group, led by Professor Anne Basting, is focused on bridging the gap between generations.

“Lifelong learning keeps us all young,” said Tricia Cohn, Executive Director at Ovation Chai Point. “We’re so excited to have Bailey join us this year and to have that youthful energy back on our campus.”

In addition to her studies at UWM, Bailey works several jobs, including as a house manager for the Milwaukee Rep. She loves living in the city and enjoys cycling along the lakefront. Her artistic endeavors include a passion for designing and sewing clothing. She also has developed her own timeless style that merges trends from different decades. At Chai Point, she plans to lead a variety of creative art workshops.

“I’m super excited to be here and can’t wait to get to know everyone,” Bailey said. “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to take part in this unique experience, and I hope the residents get as much out of it as I do. I believe art is a healing force and am looking forward to sharing the pure joy that comes from creating.”

  • September 9, 2021

Art | Ovation: Continuing The Long Tradition of Art Preservation

Founded in 2016 by Judy Margolis, former Ovation Art Committee Chair, and Randy Crosby, Ovation CAO, Art | Ovation is a program that brings in professional and amateur artists to the halls of Ovation Communities.

The Art | Ovation galleries at both the Jewish Home and Chai Point feature work in a variety of mediums such as sculpture, painting, and photography, and often feature the hidden talents among Ovation’s residents.

“Having the art exhibits on a regular basis creates a positive vibe in the culture of the place. It energizes the place; it also gives people a conversation starter,” Randy says. “We’ve brought in a lot of interesting and really good art exhibits, and we’ve been really fortunate to have people who are interested in exhibiting their work.”

Currently on display in the Chai Point Gallery, is the work of current resident, Vladamir “Dima” Kushnaryov. Dima was a microbiologist who worked at the Medical College of Wisconsin for many years. He picked up the skill of painting toward the end of his career.

“It happened so that my son was reading the newspaper and saw an ad from an art store where they offered classes for beginners,” Dima says, “So, he told me, ‘Dad, why don’t you start painting?’ I had never painted in my life before, so he was very generous and offered to pay for the class.

“My nature as a researcher, I like challenges, so when I started to first paint, nothing good came out of my painting,” Dima continues, “So, then I started to take it more seriously. One day, our instructor said that the most difficult medium is watercolor, and here I was asking, ‘is it the most difficult? Then I will do that!’”

Dima’s work includes a variety of landscapes in different settings. Some are from his trips to Ireland, and some are inspired by the trails he walked when he lived at Sarah Chudnow. His favorite paintings are of the various dogs he has encountered, such as Erica, Mr. Becket, and Clyde.

Among the previous installations Art | Ovation has featured was Chai Point resident Shirley Langer’s collection of international walking canes.

“My husband happened to become ill while we were in Spain,” Shirley says, “He was hospitalized, and they recommended that we go home. When we left the hospital, my husband said ‘No way! Maybe we can find a store that sells canes.’ So that is what we did.

“I thought that I would make this a collection, so now wherever we go, we buy a cane,” Shirley continues, “I was first surprised to be asked to display my collection for Art | Ovation. I said, ‘you know more about displays more than I do, so if you’d like to, you’re very welcome to.’”

Displaying various mediums of art across both Ovation campuses has helped improve not only resident’s wellbeing, but it also benefits the employees and returning volunteers. Everyone gets to experience the balance that art and creativity bring to a well-rounded life.

“The pride that people have had in being able to have this, it’s like a travelling art gallery throughout the whole complex.” Trish Cohn, Chai Point Executive Director says. “For me, the arts are so important. When you think about this community, it is really a culture that knows about art, and really likes to be immersed in art, and immersed in different experiences.”

If you or someone you know want their art displayed at Ovation Communities, please reach out at:

  • September 9, 2021

Lore and Martin Lewin Chai Point Award Honors Employee Excellence

Whether interacting face-to-face with residents and planning activities daily, or cooking behind the scenes in the kitchen, every employee at Ovation Chai Point plays a role in positively affecting the residents.

Two employees who take their roles very seriously, and continuously offer outstanding care and service to residents are; cook, Desiree Winston, and activities coordinator, Ahava Mann. On June 15, 2021, Desiree and Ahava were recognized for their hard work and dedication. They were awarded the prestigious Lore & Martin Lewin Chai Point Employee Excellence Award.

“These two ladies continue to demonstrate outstanding commitment to our residents by going above and beyond their duties,” Chai Point Executive Director Trish Cohn says. “With an emphasis on resident care and teamwork, you continue to fulfill our mission every day.

“There are two things every resident asks themself when they wake up every morning, ‘what am I going to eat and what am I going to do today?’ Cohn continues. “With Desiree and Ahava, residents don’t worry.”


When Desiree is cooking, residents aren’t concerned about what they will be eating, they know it will be good.

Inspired by her grandmother, Desiree is known facility-wide for her soups and omelets. Residents can always tell when Desiree is in front of the stove cooking with love.

“I have to tell you, if you’re ever here on Friday mornings between 7 and 9 am, you have to come to the second floor breakfast room and eat one of Desi’s omelets,” Chai Point resident Barb Franczyk says. “They are to die for. I have told her many times she should open her own omelets only restaurant.”

Since she began working at Ovation Communities, Desiree has strived to become a better cook for the residents.

“I just want to say thank you and let the residents know that everything I do, I do for them,” Desiree says. “It’s the residents who make this job important to me. I come in everyday and think about what I can do to make their day better, and I appreciate the way they appreciate me.”


When residents see Ahava roaming the halls, they know their day is going to be action-packed.

For two years, Ahava has worked hard to connect with residents.

“This is my niche,” Ahava said. “I love just sitting with residents and talking to them. I don’t feel like I’m doing anything extra, like putting in more time or more energy into making anything extra special. I’m just being me.”

Among the more popular actives Ahava organizes and plans for residents are a ceramics class, a share and tell open dialogue discussion, and a pre-COVID baking club.

“I have had many firsts here,” Chai Point resident Flora Abramson said. “Ahava helped me bake my first challah. I had never baked. I had never used dough, and Ahava made it a really fun experience.

“She also got me to do ceramics, which I had never done before. She has given me a lot of firsts. Thank you.”

This award and Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation fund were established in 2015 by Lore and Martin Lewin’s daughter: Sharon Lewin and her husband, Jack Edelstein, to honor Sharon’s parents.

When her parents moved to Chai Point, Sharon and Jack found great peace of mind knowing they were in an outstanding place that provides wonderful care and services.

Both Lore came and Martin were immigrants from Germany. Lore came to Milwaukee just before WWII, and Martin came after. They were both residents of Chai Point and greatly valued the dedicated employees who made their lives a blessing.

“My mom worked at Kohls and she knew how important customer service was,” Sharon Lewin said. “The frontline people are the most important people in any business. I don’t care if it’s somebody in Trish’s position or the maintenance department, the activities department, the cleaning department or the cooks and servers; they are the ones making sure the customers are happy and their needs are being met.

“I think the people that work so hard, should be rewarded,” Sharon continued. “That’s why this award is so important to us.”

  • September 9, 2021

Ovation Celebrates First Class of GCD Graduates

In May, Ovation Communities graduated its first class from the Geriatric Career Development (GCD) program. GCD is a first-of-its kind initiative aimed at addressing the long-term care workforce crisis while helping at-risk youth secure higher education and job opportunities. The program first launched at The New Jewish Home in New York and was piloted in Wisconsin at Ovation starting in 2018.

“The GCD program is designed to help guide underserved youth academically and professionally,” said Briana Thompson, GCD Coordinator at Ovation Communities. “Helping high school students get into the work force by providing them the opportunities and tools they need to succeed.”

Ovation currently partners with four Milwaukee high schools: James Madison Academic Campus, Milwaukee Academy of Science, North Division High School and Washington High School. Students spend eight to 10 hours a week learning in the program. This year participants faced the extra challenge of conducting much of their training virtually, taking many classes over Zoom.

Through the GCD program students receive an introduction to the healthcare industry, professional development and life skills counseling, a resident elder mentor, and internship and job placement support. In addition, they have the opportunity to complete their CNA (certified nursing assistant) certification. Ovation also recently added CBRF (community-based residential facility) certification training as an alternative option for those who want to become resident assistants.

Over the past three years the program has grown exponentially. Five seniors graduated in 2021, and 10 juniors and 18 sophomores are in the pipeline. Of the graduating class, three are heading to college, one is pursuing work as a resident assistant, and one has been hired at Ovation as a CNA.

“We’re so proud of our graduates and can’t wait to see what’s next for them,” Thompson said.

Ovation hires first GCD program graduate

Ovation hired its first GCD program graduate, Ashanti Tate, in May. Tate now works as a CNA at Ovation Jewish Home. She is also a recent graduate of James Madison Academic Campus.

Tate was part of the first class to complete Ovation’s GCD program. Through GCD Tate learned she enjoys the healthcare field as well as the bonding experiences with fellow students, coworkers and residents. Her passion for helping others started at a young age when she began caring for her autistic brother. Tate takes a great sense of pride in her accomplishment and is looking forward to continuing her work at Ovation.

“I’m very happy to be able to start my career at Ovation,” said Tate. “Learning and working here has been very rewarding, and at the end of the day, I love my residents.”

Tate feels fortunate for the growth and learning opportunities the GCD program has allowed her. Because of the experience, she’s found her path in healthcare and is considering college at some point in the future to continue growing in her career.

Originally established in Partnership with LeadingAge and LeadingAge Wisconsin, the GCD Program is currently funded through private donations that have been solicited through the Jewish Home and  Care Center Foundation and a generous grant by the Harri Hoffman Family Foundation, as well The Herbert and Ruth L. Giller Family Endowment.

  • September 9, 2021