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Resident Leadership Retreat: 2019 Recap

By Gracie Cohen


B’nai B’rith staff and building residents who participated in the 2019 August retreat at B’nai B’rith Perlman Camp in Pennsylvania.
On a Wednesday afternoon in August, 25 residents from B’nai B’rith housing properties met at B’nai B’rith Perlman Camp at Lake Como, Pennsylvania, for their biennial six-day retreat. The Resident Leadership Retreat, which began in 1987, not only connects resident leaders throughout the B’nai B’rith housing network but also provides them with many tools to strengthen their communities.

B’nai B’rith is the largest national Jewish sponsor of low-income, nonsectarian housing for seniors in the country. Our buildings accommodate some 5,000 residents without regard to race, religion, gender identity or sexual orientation.

There were intensive, daylong workshops covering the gamut of challenges residents (and sometimes management) face. B’nai B’rith Center for Senior Services staff members Janel Doughten, Evan Carmen, Gracie Cohen and our Senior Housing Committee Co-Chair Abbie Stone facilitated sessions on how to start a residents’ council and write bylaws, address language and cultural barriers, communicate with management, publish a newsletter and more. Resident leaders devoted time in the program to bounce ideas off of one another, and problem-solve any issues they are encountering in their residents’ association or buildings.

Aside from workshops, resident leaders spent time with many of the young sleep-away campers, getting to know one another in a song session and ice-breaker games.

One of the huge takeaways from the retreat, aside from residents connecting with one another, is that every program presented throughout the week can be replicated in each of their buildings.


On Friday night, B’nai B’rith Senior Housing Committee Co-Chair Abbie Stone oriented campers on the customs and rituals associated with the observance of Shabbat.