Barbara and Douglas Bloom support Federation's new Centennial Fund with $1 million.
Douglas and Barbara Bloom's Centennial Fund gift
will provide aid to the most vulnerable seniors.
Special to the Jewish News
ederation President Douglas
Bloom and his wife, Barbara,
share a deep awareness and
concern for the welfare of older adults in
the Detroit Jewish community. In 1985,
following a Federation-sponsored trip to
Israel, they first visited Jewish Senior Life's
(then Jewish Home for Aged) Fleischman
Residence and immediately were
impressed by the warm, welcoming atmo-
sphere — the freilach — as Barbara says.
Later, Barbara's late father, Manny
Shapiro, lived at Fleischman, and the
Blooms say they greatly appreciated the
quality of care and support he received.
With those experiences in mind, the
Blooms wanted to offer an endowment
to support the critical needs of seniors in
our community — and to do it now, while
they could see the impact of their gift.
Federation's newly conceived Centennial
Fund offered them the perfect opportu-
nity. The Centennial Fund is a major fun-
draising initiative designed to secure the
resources necessary to ensure the long-
term security of the Detroit Jewish com-
munity. The Centennial Campaign, which
seeks to raise $250 million, will support
four major areas: social welfare, Jewish
identity and education, global Jewish
April 5 • 2012
responsibility, and permanent ongoing
support for Federation's Annual Campaign
and the community at large.
"I know how critical the Centennial
Fund is for our community',' says Douglas
Bloom. "We must do this because those
with significant wealth are getting older
and, if we don't endow their gifts now,
I don't know if we're going to be able to
maintain the levels that we've raised in the
"The Annual Campaign and Challenge
Fund are not going to be enough to meet
the needs alone. The Centennial Fund is
going to be of major importance to our
community, and we are really happy that
we are able to be part of it:'
The Blooms have given $1 million and,
in doing so, are amongst the first individu-
als to support the Centennial Campaign.
Their gift will impact the Acts of Loving
Kindness-Gemi/ut Chasadim program for
indigent elderly living at JSI's Fleischman
"Both of us are really aware of the needs
of people who are aging:' says Barbara.
"People are living longer and there needs
to be quality places to live, places like
Fleischman and the other JSL residences. I
was just there, and I got the same feeling I
did when I first visited — the warmth, the
color, the way people greet you. We're very
lucky to have that."
"We don't want to see people in trouble
because they run out of money:' Douglas
said. "It's much easier for that to happen
today. Before, people could sell their house
and have enough money to live at a place
like Fleischman for the rest of their lives.
That's not the case anymore'
Through the Acts of Loving Kindness
program, JSL has never had to send a
resident elsewhere due to lack of funds, a
truly remarkable achievement given the
recent economic challenges in our region.
Unfortunately, programs such as this one
are becoming increasingly difficult to
"The need is really growing:' says JSL
CEO Rochelle Upfal."The dollars we have
in place only last for so long. People are
requiring more services at the end of their
lives. Without a gift like the Blooms' to the
Centennial Campaign, we simply won't be
able to provide the high-quality care in a
Jewish home environment our residents
In addition to critical care and support,
Fleischman, like the other JSL residences,
provides extensive social, cultural and
"We joke that Fleischman is like a
cruise ship that never sets sail:' says Carol
Rosenberg, director, JSL Foundation.
"There is programming here from 9 to
9. Unfortunately, as they live here over
time, many residents spend down on their
resources, especially as the economy has
changed, and the ability of their family
members has changed. As long as they still
meet our criteria, they stay here through
the Acts of Loving Kindness program."
Adds JSL President Nancy Heinrich,
"The Blooms' contribution to the
Centennial Fund will help us continue to
provide dignity and loving care for these
elder scions of our community"
Douglas and Barbara have supported
older adult services in the community for
many years, having previously established
the Bloom Resident Assistance Fund that
provides sundries for residents in need as
well as generously supporting a number
of other initiatives, including the Promises
Kept Fund and the 2003 Design for
Dignity renovation project.
"The Blooms are no strangers to phi-
lanthropy on behalf of seniors:' says
Rosenberg. "They are the benchmark of
care and sensitivity to older adults in our
community, and they are our family"
One of the key factors in the Blooms'
decision to contribute to the Centennial
Fund was their desire to see the benefit of
their gift now and to inspire others to do
"Looking ahead, we envision a very dif-
ferent world and are concerned about the
values that people will have' says Barbara.
"It's important that those values include
being part of the community and giving,
no matter what monetary level. It isn't
just financial — it's emotional. We feel so
fortunate that we're able to do what we do
while we're alive says Barbara.
Adds Douglas, "And if we can influence
one, two or three couples to contribute
to this important fund, we would be so
Indeed, giving to the community is
essential to the Blooms, which is illustrat-
ed by a story Douglas recently shared.
"When I was Federation Campaign
Chair, there was an intifada in Israel, and
I was over at the JPM JCC campus exercis-
ing one day and on the way out someone
said, Can you come into the Prentis
building? We have something for you. So
I went into the lobby and was handed an
envelope stuffed with ones, fives and tens.
I guess there was $1,100 or $1,200 dol-
lars that the residents had collected from
the money they had left over from Social
Security that they wanted to donate to
help people in Israel. That just broke me
up, these gifts from people who barely
could afford them."
"There will always be people for whom
it's inherent to give and to do:' says
Barbara. "Another way of saying it is that
people will always have this sense of com-
munity. Community is just part of their
being, and it's part of being a Jew." ❑
Ted Cohen is senior director, marketing, at the
Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit.