Congregation Ner Tamid’s FRIENDLY VISITOR (FV) program, inspired by the national nonprofit organization DOROT, is proud to announce that it will be marking the beginning of its third year serving synagogue seniors this Fall. This innovative CNT program, commended for its individualized approach, has already touched the lives of over 30 CNT homebound or frail seniors with the wonderful gift of new friendship from a team of trained Friendly Visitor volunteers. The mission continues to focus on intergenerational connections to synagogue seniors as it addresses the growing epidemic of social isolation in our senior adult community. FV Steering Committee members include Beth Miller, Elaine Entin, Shirley Kouffman, Nadine Cracraft, Judy Winnick, Nan Spector, Aydie Unger, Rona Mendelson and Sandi Cohen. There have been five cohorts of recruited and trained synagogue members to date who participate as Friendly Visitor volunteers and make up the lifeblood of this successful program.
FV program volunteer Rudy Rudolph visits his senior friend regularly and exclaims,
“My visits to (the senior gentleman) I have been matched with couldn’t be going any better. Although he has a great deal of difficulty remembering as well as holding a conversation, I have found that if the subject of his military service is brought up, he will speak about it and answer most of the questions I ask. My senior friend was in the Air Force during the Korean War. He served as a bombardier and navigator on a P26 Marauder. He flew 55 missions, and was deployed to Korea for one year. After returning from his 50th mission, he was recommended for, and received the Distinguished Flying Cross. It is displayed in a frame that hangs on his wall. Inside the frame along with the medal, is a letter written by the Secretary of the Air Force explaining the remarkable things he had done to deserve this medal. When I asked him why he received this great honor, he said it was no big deal. Well, it is a huge deal, and a very high honor to receive this medal. He is a very humble man, and this is one of many ways he shows it. I always look forward to my visits, and I know that (my senior friend) looks forward to me visiting. I am so glad that I am involved in the Friendly Visitor program, knowing that I am doing some good and making someone happy.”
“Our tradition teaches us not to abandon people in their old age,” states Rabbi Akselrad. “It is an important mitzvah to care about (as well as care for) the elderly in our community. Our Friendly Visitor Program tackles social isolation and creates inter-generational bonds of friendship that are incredibly meaningful.”