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August 15, 1986 - Image 58

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-08-15

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Deli Unique

I

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subscription to

THE

MITZVAH PEOPLE

Riches

Continued from Page 48

JEWISH NEWS!

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58 Friday, August 15, 1986

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS.

MI 48098

Faye Sills won many awards for her work with the retarded.

20 years ago, the taking of re-
tarded people out in public for
breakfast has become a part of
therapy, as well as a treat.
Settled into their usual
corner table at Vassili's, the
four men from JARC's Marlow
Home hungrily look at menus,
drink coffee, talk about Kirk
Gibson's latest winning home
run. Mrs. Sills makes the in-
troductions: Paul in the corner,
Ivan and Allen eating bacon,
and Leonard talk eagerly
about everything from his girl-
friend to his nephew's bar
mitzvah. "We love Mrs. Sills,"
he concludes. Mrs. Sills adds
sugar to the coffee of the fifth
man, Kenny, and explains that
she became his "other mother"
when his own mother died. He
does not live at Marlow Home
but comes to breakfast as a
guest. Mrs. Sills butters her
uneaten toast for Kenny. "I
couldn't sleep last night," she
tells him. "Maybe I was think-
ing about you, because I love
you too much."
To talk with Sills is to hear a
smooth recollection of her suc-
cesses with the retarded, for
she does not dwell on the hard-
ships. But being bitten and
kicked by patients did not dis-
suade her, and neither did
staying ,at PSH for 48 hours
during snow storms, or being
responsible with only her hus-
band to take 40 retarded from
PSH out to breakfast.
"A problem? I was thrilled to
be asked. I was honored. My
chest went way out. Because I
can tell you that those kids
feel it; I know it — they love me
so much. I can't say there was
ever one, out of all of them, that
I could say was bad or that I
couldn't do something with.
And when they kicked or
pushed . . . how could I yell at

them? I just said, 'Don't you
want me to love you?' And they
listened . ."
Provencal notes that beyond
Sills' ceaseless desire to volun-
teer and the enormous amount
of work she has done, the "no-
ble" lady impressed him with
"the nerve she has shown in
her work . . . she has always
had the courage to break down
social barriers," he says. Sills
showed this nerve to the PSH
administration, as she ex-
plains reluctantly, when "it
took a lot to have them go along
with things," in planning ac-
tivities to entertain the re-
tarded. On "social barriers"
she speaks emphatically, em-
phasizing the prejudice that
she spots among some of her
peers.
"If I can help someone, I'm
not going to go up to them and
say, 'Are you Jewish?' But it
happens. And it's horrible.
That bacon that they have (at
breakfast) is a treat. It's one of
the biggest treats they can
have. How could it matter to
me? Every Christmas, every
Easter we were there at
Plymouth. My husband dres-
sed up as Santa Claus. It
doesn't matter to me. God put
us here to help one another.
Why should religion come into
it?"
Sills became involved with
JARC in the early 1970s, as
some of her "children" moved
into the Haverim Homes. The
impression of staff members
like Rena Friedberg, develop-
ment coordinator, was almost
predictable. "We all feel that,
Mrs. Sills is truly a remarkabld
friend to the residents," notes'
Friedberg, who adds tha
JARC's informal volunteeil
program makes Sills com-
pletely unique in her involve

t

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