60 Days of Giving: Empowering Elders Through Education

Thanks to an Impact Grant from the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond (JCFR), the Beth Sholom Lifecare Community continues to raise awareness for elder abuse. With current funding from the Federation, we are able to provide education that is needed in this area.  Most recently we held a Health Fair at the Weinstein JCC providing a program with representatives from various agencies and health services. 

Our goal with the “Prevent Elder Abuse Program” is to increase knowledge and raise awareness.   Sue Berinato, Administrator of Beth Sholom Woods, and Deirdre Arnowitz, Director of Social Work and Resident Services at Beth Sholom are the coordinators of the program and spearheaded the November 10th Health Fair at the JCC.

An essay contest, open to high school juniors and seniors, was part of the Health Fair program. The topic covered was, “Why Should We Care About The Elderly?” We were also able to spread the word about this serious topic when over 70 attendees gathered at the Weinstein JCC to hear Tovah Kasdin, Director of the ElderSAFE Center at the Charles E. Smith Life Communities in Rockville, Maryland. She provided information on the types of abuses, the scope and intervention. 

The money received for education funds have been provided to pay for a safe place for at least two individuals at a time when they may need temporary, respite care.

We thank JCFR and the community for their support.

Following is the winning essay written by Eric Brenner of Deep Run High School.

The Importance of the Elderly

Throughout my brief lifetime, various role models of mine have instilled numerous lessons and values within my character. These values, whether moral, ethical, intellectual or otherwise, have served to formulate my identity as a young man, and to shape my perspectives on many aspects of our worldly affairs. My role models have transcended race, ethnicity, language and even religious affiliation, and within any category in which they identify, they have been able to provide me with important life lessons. However, no single party has more clearly demonstrated its immense wisdom than the elderly.

The elderly have lived through almost entire lifetimes of experiences and have unquantifiable amounts of knowledge and wisdom to share with younger generations. It astonishes me that some do not appreciate the contributions of the elderly to our society, and instead squander the potential of their many lessons to leave to the citizens of the future. I believe that the younger generations have not only a financial and moral responsibility to cater to the elderly, but also an immense privilege of listening to the wisdom and appreciating the lessons of the older generations.

As a child, I was fortunate enough to grow up with my grandfather, a brilliant immigrant from Buenos Aires, Argentina. My grandfather had the purest heart out of any man or woman I have met in my entire life and he taught me the virtues of generosity, patience, and gratitude. From a very young age, he would recant stories of his childhood in Argentina, of his work as a Pharmacist in Buenos Aires, of his experiences growing up in a different community, a different time period, and, to me, almost a different world.

My grandfather always sought to assist my family in any way he could, doing chores around the house such as making breakfast, folding laundry, unloading the dishwasher, and other such household tasks; he felt a sense of fulfillment on a personal level by contributing to the daily lifestyle of the family. My grandfather never once placed a burden on my family if it was not absolutely necessary, and when it was, we loved him so very much that we gladly obliged to assisting him however we could.

One of the most special roles of my grandfather was his position as a beacon of love and support when a member of my family needed emotional assistance or advice. By simply observing his actions and attitudes, I adopted a sense of humility and respect for my surroundings. My grandfather taught me the pertinence of being compassionate to even the cruelest of people, a value that nearly everyone struggles with to this day. I could write 100 pages over the wisdom I inherited from my grandfather, but to centralize my idea, I impart you with a valuable quote from him, translated from Spanish to English: "Every single person in this world has something valuable to contribute to it." This ideology of my grandfather has led me to the conclusion that our elders are just as important to our society as any other collectivization of people.

Millions of families have experiences similar to mine. Millions more have been positively impacted either directly or by the teachings of an elderly person. However, it is an exceptionally unfortunate reality that many citizens in our nation do not respect and care for the elderly. I believe it is absolutely vital to show to these people that the elderly are not a burden, but rather a gift to our society. The elderly are the leaders of yesterday, the people who influenced our society for the better - the doctors, lawyers, politicians, activists, architects, social workers, educators - and so much more. It is immensely unfair to abandon them after they have contributed so much to our nation and to our world. In other societies, elders are revered and praised for their wisdom and teachings. I believe that our society should adopt this viewpoint as well, because no matter how many technological advances our society undergoes to differentiate it from that of our elders, the information they provide simply from their experiences and lives as human beings is absolutely crucial to our world.

Furthermore, to abandon our elders is to abandon our history. When my grandfather passed away, I felt the most intense feelings of sadness that I had and have ever experienced. I knew his time was soon to come and I knew that his being 97 years old did him no favors in that regard, but I was genuinely shocked that someone could live such a full and complete life. As a 10 year old, I did not yet fully understand how important he was to my life and to my family. But as I continue to age and my recognition becomes ever more present, I truly realize the significance of my grandfather, and people like him.

My final suggestion is to treat our elderly with respect and compassion; learn from their teachings and infinite wisdom; do not refute their ability to contribute to our society; and finally, love them, appreciate them, and, before it is too late, introduce them to today's children so that their ideas and experiences will live on beyond their passing into the next world.


THE BETH SHOLOM LIFECARE COMMUNITY is a premiere life care community in Richmond, Virginia offering a continuum of care. Their mission is to provide comprehensive, compassionate healthcare for individuals of all faiths in a campus environment and homelike setting. Beth Sholom Lifecare Community offers an array of options to meet the changing needs of residents – from independent and assisted living to memory care, inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation, and long-term skilled nursing. The community is situated on 16 wooded acres in Richmond’s West End, conveniently located near shopping and recreational facilities. Visit them at BSLCC.org.

For more information, contact Mary Gayle Guidon, at Beth Sholom Lifecare Community, at 804-421-5355.


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