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June 14, 1985 - Image 15

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-06-14

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Friday, .June 14, 1985


"The Center has
given me a real
sense of
community," says
Nan Wassermann.
"There is a feeling of
caring for

Aida Ritten shows off a few of her "grandchildren."

ble, full-service Jewish center.
Levine recalls that the renovation
started with painting the front doors
bright red. It was a radical gesture,"
she says. We wanted people to look
down that driveway (from Ten Mile)
and see that we were .here.'
It is no longer the front doors that
make a statement to a visitor entering
the building, but rather the friendli-
ness and activity — an upbeat feeling
that permeates the heimishe little
On this particular day, newcom-
ers are greeted by Irving Kleiman, an
energetic 86-year-old who is one of
many volunteers manning the hospi-
tality table. Eager to provide informa-
tion and show visitors around,
Kleiman says he likes to help out
wherever he is needed, adding, "If I
couldn't come here, it would be a real
problem. I don't know what I'd do."
Indeed, many of the seniors who
take part in what has been called "one
of the finest seniors programs in the
country" enjoy volunteering their
services in many ways.
That is only one dimension of a
full complement of programming for
many ages. On this day, for example, a
group of senior adults are working in
the garden-greenhouse area; pre-
schoolers are playing noisily in the day
care-nursery school area; women of all
ages are working out in aerobics class.
Clubs are meeting, English language
class is in session and the library is
open for business.
The key to much of the revitaliza-
tion has been quality programming,
according to building coordinator Irma
Starr. Starr's "inter-generational" ap-
proach has, in fact, been credited with

making a real impact in the move
toward a full-service center.
That approach is typified in the
branch's child development center,
which offers a number of services and
brings together youngsters and senior
adults. "Bubbe" Aida Ritten sits on a
little chair, teaching Yiddish songs to
a group of pre-schoolers. In the drop-off
babysitting area, an older couple may
stop in to be "temporary grand-
parents" for an energetic toddler.
Nan Wassermann, whose 41-
year-old son Aaron is enrolled in the
nursery program, believes that her son
has learned to become comfortable
with older people and has gained re-
spect for them because of the JPM pro-
A single, working parent, Was-
sermann was new to the area when she
enrolled Aaron in JPM day care. The
Center has given me a real sense of
community," she says. "There is a feel-
ing of caring for everyone."
Wasserman learned of JPM's
child care programming when a friend
suggested that she utilize the drop-off
babysitting while going on job inter-
views. Available at an hourly rate for
parents who are participating in JPM
activities or who just need a few hours'
free time, the service has brought
many "new" people to the branch.
Bessie Levin, who is acting direc-
tor of the child care development cen-
ter, believes that JPM is "everything a
Jewish agency should be." She sees the
programming as a kind of "beacon in -
the water," that enables parents to
have quality Jewish programming for
their youngsters and enjoy the bene-
fits of networking through such areas
as parent-toddler classes.
"Miss BeSsie" is typical of JPM

staffers. A 14-year Center veteran, she
has lived in the Southfield-Oak Park
area for 31 years has seen her own
children grow up with Center pro-
gramming and is committed to the
viability of the branch. Levin holds a
Master's degree in parenting and early
education. She can be seen most morn-
ings riding her bike to work.
She feels the child development
center will continue its growth — and
with good reason. A Skillman Founda-
tion grant has just been awarded to
help launch a latch-key program in the
fall. It will provide supervised, after-
school activities to children of working
The branch's other major area of
growth has been in senior adult pro-
gramming, directed by Miriam
Sandweiss. It has become a "hotline to
those in need," involving the frail and
handicapped in activities, as well as
the more energetic.
Ada Bandalene's Super Senior
Fitness classes find as many as 100
seniors in the gym — men and women
from age 65 to 94, working with small
weights and participating in walking
exercises. Bandalene keeps them mov-
ing with her determination, friendly
chatter and concern for their well-
Beverly BlEis recalls how resistant
her parents were to the idea of taking
part in Center activities. In their 70s,
the couple assumed that the classes
would be dull and other participants
would be older than they. Blas took
them to Bandalene's class and things
haven't been the same since.
Not only did her parents love the
class, but Was was "moved to tears" by
what she s w. She was most impressed

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