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Managers and Service Coordinators Meeting in Philadelphia
In addition to advocacy, we have a robust schedule addressing Housing and Urban Development (HUD) updates and concerns from Randall J. Scheetz, a representative of HUD Multifamily Northeast Asset Management of the Baltimore Satellite office, Philadelphia Branch. You can expect a follow-up on the transition that has taken place at HUD, policy changes that have occurred with a new administration and secretary, an update on Project Rental Assistance Contract (PRAC) Renewals and Project Based Rental Assistance (PBRA), the Homeless Preference program, Management and Occupancy Review (MOR) inspections, and new guidelines for service coordinators. We will conduct breakouts in which service coordinators and managers will have the chance to separately debrief and receive training on information provided by HUD, as well as an opportunity to gather and discuss barriers and successes with one another.
We are very pleased to have with us, featured speaker, Judith Chavis, executive vice president of -public policy at the American Association of Service Coordinators (AASC). Judi has had a major role in creating a service coordination manual made by and for service coordinators on behalf of HUD. We believe all attendees will enjoy the opportunity to hear from her and learn about all the great work she is advancing.
Other anticipated agenda topics will include: how to support formerly homeless residents as they adapt to congregant, supportive housing, dealing with difficult residents and risk management for resident files.
As always, there will be an opportunity for the whole group to share programming that you have going on in your building. If there’s a program that you would like to distribute to other attendees, let us know and we will be happy to accommodate.
If you have not already registered for the conference or booked your hotel, you can contact Janel Doughten (firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-857-6581) for more information.
A Note From The Chair: Seth Riklin
I want to let you know that since saying farewell to our colleague Rachel Goldberg, she continues her advocacy for senior issues. She recently accepted an exciting position with AARP. We wish her well. She will be missed.
However, we are fortunate to have a talented replacement in Evan Carmen. Evan is an attorney, and comes to us from the White House staff of President Barack Obama. Previously, he spent time working on Capitol Hill and has the skill set to add new energy to our senior advocacy.
Evan has already been providing opportunities to make a difference in Washington, D.C. by keeping the Network up to speed with the inner-workings of the 115th Congress. This includes making us aware of the advocacy of Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), thanks to his “Dear Colleague” letters in the Senate. I hope we can continue to chime in with the senator’s efforts. By speaking in a united voice, we can make a difference together.
I hope board members will plan to join us for our next quarterly call. As always, we plan to talk about things happening around our Network, and will address special topics, as requested. The shared wisdom of these calls continues to provide common solutions for issues that each of our buildings face at one time or another.
We appreciate your help and your ideas as we look for new ways to engage the Boards and Management of all our buildings in the Network. With your help, we will continue to gain momentum and make a difference in 2017.
Carmen Rodriguez of
B’nai B’rith Apartments of Deerfield Beach
Born in Puerto Rico, Carmen moved to New York when she was just 6 years old. She grew up there before moving to Florida in 2005 and came to live at B’nai B’rith Apartments at Deerfield Beach in 2012. Since she arrived, she has done so many things for the building and staff and residents count themselves lucky.
“A great asset to our resident community of B’nai B’rith Apartments.”
When asked how she learned to make all the things she creates, Carmen replied, “I have always had a passion to create things; when I was a child I would use mud to form things, make go-carts and do all kinds of fun stuff.” Further, she shared her propensity for drawing, “It was always in me—I would always doodle and then, when I got into junior high school, I started taking the art classes.”
On top of the activities she runs and participates in, Carmen volunteers with the Resident Council to assist with various activities and is known for always supporting other residents. For instance, one of her fellow residents has been very sick and Carmen has been walking his dog, Layla, twice a day for a few months now. She started planting vegetables in the “Need to Feed Garden” that is located at the Youth Automotive school next door. Since then she has became the master gardener. As a result of her efforts, the building currently has eight residents planting vegetables and fruit trees in the community garden. The vegetables are regularly distributed to residents in the building.
In 2015, B’nai B’rith International staff had the pleasure of meeting Carmen when she was a participant at the Resident Leadership Retreat at B’nai B’rith Perlman Camp in the Poconos. There, she feels she learned a lot and had the time of her life. At the talent show, she did a dance and clowned around, sharing her light heartedness with everyone in attendance. She even proved her innovative abilities by creating a fishing rod with a safety pin. Before everyone knew it, she was helping other campers catch fish!
Staff at the apartments consider themselves blessed with her many talents and kind heart. There is no question, Carmen is one of a kind!
By Evan Carmen, Assistant Director of the Center for Senior Services
I want to get take this opportunity to say hello and tell everyone how excited I am about my new role at B’nai B’rith. Over the past month, I have had the chance to talk with many of you by phone and I am eager to continue to meet new people, and hear from everyone who is part of the network
Network Managers/Service Coordinators Training June 7-9 in Philadelphia
As many of you know, in the month of June, B’nai B’rith will be having our managers/service coordinators training. We are hoping to provide valuable information to you on the best practices for contacting a representative’s office for federal agency casework assistance. Congressional district offices can be a great asset when trying to get your residents’ assistance with the federal government. In addition, we will be giving an update on important legislation in Congress that impacts the residents of your buildings.
B’nai B’rith advocates against Trump Administration Budget Cuts!
Given President Trump’s proposed budget cuts to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) budget, we have teamed up with the American Association of Service Coordinators (AASC) to do everything we can to advocate against this possible decrease in funding. We have met with staff members from Sens. Blunt (Missouri), Boozman (Arkansas) and Shelby’s (Alabama) offices and Reps. McSally (Arizona) and Dent’s (Pennsylvania) offices. B’nai B’rith has purposefully targeted members who are part of the Appropriations Subcommittees responsible for HUD’s funding. We have emphasized to these offices how important affordable housing and the service coordinator programs are for low income seniors, and how vital it is for all rental subsidies to be fully funded. Our efforts on behalf of the residents of your buildings are ongoing, and we are very hopeful that we can meet with additional members’ offices. In addition, we are excited to report that we have been working to try and schedule onsite visits by members of Congress or their staff. We believe that onsite visits are the best way for representatives to see all the great things happening in your buildings.
B’nai B’rith was pleased to be mentioned in The New York Jewish Week expressing our disapproval regarding the proposed cuts to HUD in President Trump’s “skinny budget.” Lastly, as mentioned in our press release, we will continue to monitor and analyze President Trump’s budget as more details are made available.
American Health Care Act Troubling for Seniors
B’nai B’rith was very vocal in expressing hesitancy towards the American Health Care Act (AHCA). On two separate occasions B’nai B’rith issued press releases regarding repealing the Affordable Care Act. We were very worried that the AHCA would cause the most vulnerable low-income seniors to lose health care coverage or see their premiums rise, and impact Medicare solvency. It was great to see our efforts noted by the Jewish Telegraph Agency in an article regarding Jewish advocacy for the elderly. While the AHCA future is uncertain at the moment, we will obviously continue to monitor additional health legislation as it develops.
Building Highlight: B'nai B'rith Homecrest House
Mr. Hector Gao traveled with the delegates and was the translator for their group. The delegation met resident services director, Nancy Wolford, our resident services coordinator, Hewan Zena, and several of our Partners in Care including: Shirley Malcolm and Jane Laughlin from the Jewish Social Service Agency (JSSA), LaShawna Epps from WISH (Wellness & Independence for Seniors at Home), Eliahu Beleck from Fox Rehabilitation and Nikki Ezeani, our Nurse Practioner from Lomack Primary Care. Our partners introduced themselves and gave information about their care services to low-income elders. We would like to thank them for coming and hope to see them again soon!
B’nai B’rith Homecrest House is an interfaith, nonprofit senior residence located at 14508 Homecrest Road, Silver Spring, Md. 20906. Nestled amidst 10 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds with its own lake, the three buildings of Homecrest House provide 235 apartments for independent senior living, for adults with physical mobility challenges and 42 apartments for personal care services.
CSS Mission to Cuba March 2016
Since 1995, B’nai B’rith has operated legal missions to Cuba under the auspices of the Cuban Jewish Relief Project. Through our partnership with the Maimonides lodge, we have initiated the Tzedakah Project, providing direct gifts in small amounts to assist 120 elderly Cuban Jews across the island. Additionally, past mission participants have also carried down thousands of pounds of religious material contributions to enhance the ability of the Jewish population in Cuba to practice their religion, as well as medicines and other necessities, while building personal friendships to last a lifetime
Responding to the specific needs of Cuban seniors, in March 2016, the Center for Senior Services sponsored a joint five-day B’nai B’rith Mission to Cuba, along with the B’nai B’rith Young Leadership Network. The mission participants brought supplies, including walkers, canes, toiletries, medication, clothes, dozens of packages of Depends, canned food, powdered milk and Emergency Evacuation Kits for the seniors.
During two of the days, the group split up, with the CSS group visiting two senior centers in Havana. The participants planned and implemented programming for the seniors as well as exchanging ideas with the volunteers that run the centers.
The rest of the trip gave participants time to explore Old Havana and spend Shabbat with the Cuban Jewish community. The Cuban people are incredibly warm and welcoming, and were very excited when they found out we were Americans. As the CSS staff member that participated in the mission, it made me realize how much these missions make an impact in the day to day life of average Cubans. If you would like more information about the Cuban Jewish Relief Project or the B’nai B’rith Missions to Cuba, please visit the website here.
By touring the property, Congressman Raskin received a firsthand look at how important Section 202 affordable housing is for low-income seniors. He was introduced to members of the staff, and shown a resident’s apartment and the various amenities in the building such as the dinning and arts and crafts rooms. Walking through the property showed Congressman Raskin that Homecrest House is more than bricks and mortar; but a senior community that allows older Americans to “age in place.”
After the tour, the congressman dazzled everyone in attendance by sitting behind the piano and demonstrating his musical talent. Then, during the town hall, Congressman Raskin took questions from the residents on a variety of topics ranging from basic senior issues to affordable housing to foreign policy. After the Q and A, he took time to meet personally with all those in attendance.
In the months ahead, we will be working hard to encourage additional representatives and senators to visit B’nai B’rith sponsored buildings across the country. As demonstrated by the congressman’s onsite visit, inviting your member of Congress to visit affordable housing properties is a great way to advertise how integral these buildings are to low-income seniors being able to “age in place.”
Cultural competency – getting in touch with our biases
Susan Walker has been the leasing agent and overseer of Resident Services for 4 years at St. Mary’s Court. Her building is a Section 202 property located in Washington, D.C.in which Janel Doughten sits on the board. Prior to that, she worked in the Episcopal Church for 20 years. The following is a summary of a presentation Susan gave at the 2016 Managers and Service Coordinators meeting in Portland.
Have you ever thought of yourself as culturally competent? The National Association of Social Workers defines cultural competency as the capacity to respectfully and effectively respond to people of all cultures, languages, classes, races, ethnicities and religious backgrounds. When we are culturally competent, our words and actions recognize, affirm and value the dignity and worth of each individual.
The seniors I work with come from over 25 countries. They speak different languages, have different socio-economic backgrounds and model a diversity of cultural norms.
How do we recognize those differences between us and find common meaning in the cross-cultural settings of residential life? When we recognize our own biases, both conscious and unconscious, we can begin the work of becoming more culturally competent in our relationships and our work.
One way to begin is to remember the “Golden Rule” many of us were taught as children: “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” This would be an effective rule if my culture and values were the measuring stick for everyone’s expectations for how they want to be treated. However, the Golden Rule does not ask, “How does this person want to be treated, based on his/her culture or values?” And, do I even understand another person’s culture well enough to know when I am being respectful, or not?
More useful is the “Platinum Rule:” Treat others the way they want to be treated.” This statement focuses on the needs of the other person, rather my own assumptions and what I think I know a person wishes.
By becoming more educated about and sensitive to cultures, we can listen to another person with acceptance. This is a gift to both listener and speaker. And, by becoming more self-aware of our assumptions, we can increase our respect of others, even when we don’t fully understand their culture. Developing cultural competency is a life-long process of becoming aware of our biases and learning to appreciate the world of differences we all share.
What To Expect in the Seniority Report: Summer 2017
- Grants: How to Look For, Write, and Receive Funding for Your Residents
- Elderly Housing Coalition Building Tours