By Dr. Rebecca Housel
The Canton Chai Center, founded and run by Rabbi Mendy Horowitz and his wife, Rivka, helped commemorate the ten-year anniversary of 9-11 by creating a new Senior Buddy Program, matching younger program-volunteers with seniors. Since its inception, the program has helped local seniors maintain strong social connections, something medicine touts as necessary to a longer, healthier life.
Senior buddies and their volunteers get together to play games, that not only help keep senior-brains sharp, but also serve as a method for the volunteers to learn more about their buddies. Volunteers call their senior buddies every Shabbat, to wish them well and check in. Other volunteers work on baking fresh challah bread, a traditional braided egg bread, and making weekly Sabbath-deliveries.
The Canton Chai Center, located at 283 Revere Street, connected with an independent senior living facility in Randolph to jumpstart their Senior Buddy Program in September of 2011. The word “chai” means “life” in Hebrew. The Senior Buddy Program helps seniors live a better quality of life, seniors like Edith Dreezer and Anne Barroll.
Edith Dreezer enjoys hearing about activities in her program-volunteer’s life, a life Dreezer has now become a part of. One senior with adult children found the opportunity to talk to her buddy about topics her children, though close to their mother, avoid. Seniors can be the forgotten population, often left behind by an increasingly busy society. Now, senior buddies like Dreezer and Barroll feel less isolated, no longer isolated by 21st century life.
The Chai Center also builds in exclusive activities for volunteers of the Senior Buddy Program, volunteers like Barbara Erikson and Steve and Marlene Perlstein, and Yaffa Bib, who not only share their time with deserving senior buddies, but their lives. The Chai Centers offers Shabbat and holiday parties for community volunteers.
In 2012, the Canton Chai Center plans on continuing their Senior Buddy Program and hopefully, extending it. Other elements to the program include giving seniors opportunities to have philosophical discussions on what is most important to them, at this point in their lives, creating an ethical will, and having a place to celebrate important holidays with people who care about them.
The Chai Center strives to provide meaningful education and social service programs to the larger community. If you have any interest in volunteering, would like to support these vital programs that are completely funded by the Chai Center and individual donations, or would like more information, please contact Rivka at email@example.com or 781-956-2507