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November 19, 1993 - Image 15

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-11-19

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

Immigrants Friend At Sinai Honored

RUTH UTTMANN STAFF WRITER

unteers and confirming ap-
pointments with patients.
"There isn't a Russian in De-
troit who doesn't know me," Ms.
Nosanchuk laughs.
But the light-hearted com-
ment should be taken serious-
ly, say members of Sinai
Hospital's Guild and depart-
ment of volunteer services. For
emigres, especially those who
do not speak English, hospitals
can be petrifying territory.

I

n the Big Apple, neighbors
called May Nosanchuk the
mountain climber.
Back then — it was the
late 1930s — Ms. Nosanchuk
was a young mother with the
precarious habit of climbing out
onto her fifth floor ledge to clean
windows.
Decades later in Detroit, Ms.
Nosanchuk's ambitions are no
less lofty. The 82-year-old West
Bloomfield resident recently
won the "Thanks For Giving
Award" for designing and
chairing Sinai Hospital's Lan-
guage Interpretation Program
(LIP).
The award, bestowed year-
ly to 10 individuals, is given by
a committee of representatives
from several local hospitals. Re-
cipients are local volunteers
who have made a difference in
health care.
Twenty years ago, Ms. No-
sanchuk started LIP as a pro-
ject that uses volunteers to
interpret for non-English speak-
ing patients during medical ex-
ams and procedures. Initially,
Yiddish-speaking volunteers
were most in demand, but over
the years, as more and more
Jews left the former Soviet
Union, Ms. Nosanchuck re-
cruited volunteers who spoke
Russian.
Ms. Nosanchuk enrolled her-
self in programs at Wayne Uni-
versity. In addition to earning

"May truly feels
that Sinai is her
hospital."

Elsa Silverman

May Nosanchuk
a bachelor's and master's in ed-
ucation, the woman who never
graduated high school became
fluent in what she describes as
the language of her ancestors:
Russian.

Turkish Roots Sprout
An Active Family Club

JENNIFER FINER JEWISH NEWS INTERN

L

ike the old adage, if you
can't count on your fami-
ly, whom can you count
on?
Members of the Auslander
Family Club, one of the largest
active family clubs in the coun-
try, have been meeting regu-
larly for 66 years. Their
"organization," which was start-
ed to "unite the Auslander fam-
ily and their decendants in a
social manner," evolved into
something more.
"The family set up a loan
fund so its members could bor-
row money for whatever reason
and pay only 3 percent interest,"
said Frita Roth Drapkin, the
club's historian and author of
three books including Pappa's
Golden Land, a novel about the

Auslander family. "The fund
has been used for college tu-
ition, a down payment on a
home, and even to start a small
business. There was also an
emergency fund if family mem-
bers needed money. This was
used a lot during the Depres-
sion. We really took care of our
own."
Family showers were auto-
matically planned for brides-to-
be and new babies, and annual
picnics were always held, said
Ms. Drapkin.
Next weekend, over 100
members of the Auslander
Family Club will attend its 66th
anniversary celebration in
Southfield.
Family club membership is

ROOTS page 16

Over two decades, Ms. No-
sanchuk has logged more than
10,000 hours of volunteer ser-
vice at the hospital. This doesn't
include the many hours she
worked at home, scheduling vol-

"Many immigrants are con-
fused, some even overwhelmed,
by the adjustment to a new life
in a new world. Medical exams
and hospitalization can be very
frightening...As volunteer
chairman (of LIP), May has
trained volunteers to explain
procedures, provide instructions
and to give comfort and reas-
surance as patients are inter-
viewed and examined by
medical staff," said Detroit Free
Press columnist Bob Talbert,
the guest speaker at the
Thanks For Giving awards cer-
emony held Nov. 9.
Said Elsa Silverman, pro-
gram supervisor for volunteer

services at Sinai:
"One of the things you want
a volunteer to do is feel an own-
ership. May truly feels that
Sinai is her hospital and she
has an obligation to take care
of it and all of its people."
In recent years, the number
of Russian emigres skyrocket-
ed, and the job of coordinating
LIP became too big for one per-
son. Today, Ms. Nosanchuk con-
tinues to work on the program
with a paid staff member, Su-
sanna Berger.
The Thanks For Giving
award winner says she has
many "thanks" to send others.
She started LIP as an empty
nester. Her three sons — Har-
ry, Jerry and Joel — had flown
the coop. The former den moth-
er, who was always running
from one activity to the next,
found herself with time on her
hands.
"What was I going to do? Sit
and stare at the walls? I would
go absolutely mad," she says.
"It's nice to get the certifi-
cates, the awards. But it's more
than that..."
The friends she has made
and sustained through her ac-
tivities are priceless, she says.
And there's something else:
"It's important for you to
know that I'm doing it for my-
self. I'm keeping my mind ac-
tive," she says. "I am thankful
for this job." ❑

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