By Jo Strausz Rosen

Fleischman Residence and Hechtman Staff got creative quickly when we received the news that a gas leak was detected outside of Hechtman at 9:00am Wednesday, causing all sleepy residents to be whisked from their warm apartments into the welcoming arms of staff in the Fleischman lobby. Administrator Melissa Morton and her capable team from Hechtman led the brigade with leadership and calm as Administrator, Caitlin Hartman, and all our Fleischman staff welcomed everyone to get cozy.  JSL exec team led by CEO Nancy Heinrich and CFO Kara Powers arrived quickly at the campus to lend a hand. They showed great leadership, reassuring residents that they were safe, repairs were underway, and all would be well. Even our marketing partners from Tandem jumped in to distribute food and beverages and to support JSL in any way they could. No one missed a beat as we all pitched in to care for the residents for what would be 7 long hours.

The kitchen quickly whipped up enough donuts, hot coffee, tea, and water to share with the hungry and thirsty people.  Some of the residents immediately sat together and started a Rummikub game. Others put together puzzles, or checked their phones, or read books from the library. All the while staff got everyone settled, covered them with clean blankets and began singing songs led by Program for Holocaust Survivors and Families Director, Dr. Charley Silow.

There were very few complaints from the residents, many of whom leave Hechtman only rarely, so for them it was a whole new world. They loved seeing Fleischman and enjoyed Bella the dog who welcomed some of the other dogs from Hechtman. Staff walked residents’ dogs and kept them calm. Other JSL team members were able to retrieve medication from residents’ apartments for those who needed it. Firefighters, police officers, and Consumer’s Power team members hustled to find the leak and cap it and then began the difficult job of reconnecting all the apartments with gas to restart their heat. Pizza was ordered and served at noon to the grateful and hungry crowd who later joined in song and dance with musician Avy Schreiber on the piano.

Because everyone approached the disruption with good humor, dedication and creativity, it felt more like a party than an emergency. As I looked around the room, the thought that popped into my mind was “This is JSL.”

Shabbat Shalom.

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