Supplement to The Jewish News
Scenes at the Petosky Building
The move from Edmund St. to Petosky — 193 7
The Petosky Building — center above
Borman Hall — left
Prentis Manor — right
Ira Sonneblick with a resident
Auxiliary Members Open Their Hearts to Help
When the Jewish Old Folks Home was established, its
paid staff consisted of a cook, a housekeeper and a
Even though there were only 11 residents, they needed
more help than the three full-time staff members could
give. To meet these needs, a Women's Auxiliary was
formed. The Auxiliary has been an integral part of the
Home ever since.
The Auxiliary members donated clothing and household
goods to the Home and its residents, but they also
became involved in social activities, hosting afternoon
teas for the residents, and taking them on trips to Belle
Isle and other places of interest. Their efforts were
described in the society pages of the Detroit Jewish
Chronicle in the 1920s.
The Auxiliary proved to be as successful at increasing its
membership as it was at providing financial support. An
ambitious membership drive was undertaken in the
1930s, with the slogan, "Every Jewish woman a member
of the Auxiliary." More than 1,800 new members joined,
600 of them in one day!
Though personal service to residents had always been an
important part of the Auxiliary's program, the
organization's emphasis shifted to para-professional work
during World War II. A shortage of nurses was making
things difficult at the Home. Auxiliary members filled in
by serving as nurses' aides.
By the 1950s, the Auxiliary had more than 100 active
volunteers working regularly in the craftshop or gift
shop, running Bingo games, helping with holiday
celebrations or performing other services for the
Volunteers also help organize and coordinate trips for
residents, a program which has become extremely
The volunteers can be anyone. They can be teenagers
looking for a meaningful way to spend their free time.
They can be residents themselves, eager to share
knowledge or skills with others. Often, volunteers start
working at the Home when a relative goes there to live.
Last year, volunteers gave 18,000 hours of their time to
work with the home's residents and day care
participants, enriching their lives in countless ways.
Through dues, tribute cards and proceeds from the Gift
Shop and Nosh Nook — a snack bar for residents and
visitors — the Auxiliary is able to provide birthday gifts
for residents, holiday flowers and new equipment and to
support a resident library and various programming
Without the Auxiliary and its volunteers, the Jewish
Home for Aged could not have succeeded. Their support
has been, and continues to be, immeasurable.
"We're happy to have family members volunteer,
because then they get to see how the Home functions,
and they can meet the staff and get to know them," says
Jean Epstein, director of social work at the Home.
"And many of these people stay on as volunteers long
after their relative has died."
The list of services rendered by volunteers is long. They
coordinate current events discussions, musical groups,
exercise and art classes. They serve as friendly visitors to
residents, especially those who have no family in town.
They assist with religious activities.
Volunteer Jean Arkin, Volunteer Coordinator Rowena Howard,
and Auxiliary President Geraldine Margolis assist residents
in the Gift Shop.