Q: Have you always wanted to work in the Jewish community?
A: Not exactly. I’ve always had the desire to help and learn and carried my childhood love of “playing school” into adulthood. In fact, I’ve taken classes at six higher education institutions in Michigan and most recently earned an MBA at Walsh College. So, while I earned a teaching certificate in history and sociology, the suffering 2007 economy had other plans for me. Instead of becoming a high school teacher, I became the Family Educator at Congregation Shaarey Zedek. After seven wonderful years, I joined the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit to support leadership development and outreach efforts. In time, I poured myself into fundraising and found incredible satisfaction in serving as a conduit to making our world a better place.
Q: What drew you to this opportunity?
A: It came as an unexpected gift – the opportunity to support individuals and families during the most vulnerable time of life. I was drawn by the values of the work, the giving nature of the team and the culture of possibility. As a Type A personality, one who plans meals three months at a time and manages childcare on a spreadsheet, I didn’t anticipate my professional path as it is. That said, I wouldn’t wish for it to be any different.
Q: Has the experience been as expected?
A: To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Every time I shared the news of my role, I received one of two reactions. People with family members cared for by JHCN responded enthusiastically stating that I was embarking on an amazing journey and vital work. Those without personal experience tilted their heads, looked at me quizzically and said, “that’s so sad.” Yes, there is sadness, but there is so much more. What I see every day is – Inspiring. Life-affirming. Motivating. Dignifying. Joyful. Hopeful. It’s a very meaningful way to spend my days.
Q: What have you learned during your time at JHCN?
A: The compassionate way we guide people through the most challenging chapter. In my third week I joined
Natalie Rosenfield, Director of Patient Care, to meet with a family about how we might help their terminally ill mom. Immediately I could see their exhaustion, frustration and hopelessness. One hour later there was a plan and some optimism. Three months later, mom is doing better. On the LifeLinks palliative care program she’s found comfort and focuses on the good in her life, like so many other JHCN patients. She looks forward to the art, music and tai chi visits. This gives her the strength to get up every morning and embrace the time she has left. And it gives her family the opportunity to focus on quality time with their mother.
The lessons of making every moment matter follow me out of the office. I’m prioritizing time with my husband Aubrey, 3-year-old daughter Aviva and extended family. I’m taking care of myself, practicing yoga daily. I’m listening to audio books in the morning and when I’m driving in the car. I’m taking advantage of my time on earth. When you work at JHCN you have a greater understanding of just how precious time is.
And in the midst of this, it became personal. Four weeks after I began, my aunt was put on hospice. I watched as my family was delicately cared for and guided, just like everyone else. It was reassuring to know my colleagues were advocating for my aunt, ensuring she received the best care possible and never felt alone on the journey. It has only elevated my desire to ensure JHCN’s sustainability.
Q: What are your priorities at JHCN?
A: As Director of Philanthropy & Sustainability, my focus is on expanding our fundraising capacity to care for 500 terminally ill people every year, with no cost to them whatsoever. I am working to gain Lifelong friends who will be with us for the long haul and I’m talking with patients and families about their experience so that we are always growing and improving. My goal, each and every day, is to ensure we have the resources to provide the best care possible for each and every person. My life’s mission is to leave a mark that is worthwhile and meaningful and I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity at JHCN.