December 20, 2014 · 28 Kislev

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Shared Care

Temple Beth El

333 S.W. 4 Avenue
Boca Raton, Florida 33432
Temple Beth El website
e-mail Temple Beth El

Shared Care, which was initiated in 1982, is an interfaith program of activities for the frail and elderly. It is co-sponsored by Temple Beth El, the First Presbyterian Church, and St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church, all in Boca Raton. The program is open to the community; based at Temple Beth El, volunteers from all three sponsoring congregations meet weekly.

The program was conceived by Beth El's Rabbi Merle Singer and Dr. Arthur Stevenson, Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church. Their two congregations had met periodically in an interfaith dialogue. During one such meeting, the idea of sponsoring a joint community service project was advanced. After much discussion regarding the form of such a project, it was decided to develop a day care center for the elderly. A call went out to volunteers from both congregations, and eight months of training ensued, with weekly meetings of the volunteers with doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists, and others.

The program began with seven elders; today, it has thirty, as well as a waiting list. Among the participants, in addition to one woman of 100, there are people with a variety of ailments, including Parkinsons, Alzheimers, and other afflictions of old age. The 30 volunteers, representing all three sponsoring congregations, include retired nurses, art teachers, a doctor, a vocalist, and a physical education instructor. (All are honored at year's end with a luncheon.) Activities include discussions, music, arts and crafts, and chair exercises.

Once a month, the program becomes intergenerational, with the children of the Temple Beth El nursery school joining the elderly participants for arts and crafts or chair exercise games.

All holidays and festivals are celebrated, and it is not unusual, during the winter holiday season, to hear the Catholic children from St. Joan of Arc singing Christmas carols and the Temple Beth El children singing Chanukah songs. Participants pay ten dollars a year; the modest costs are covered by the congregations.

The Fain Award is presented to Temple Beth El not only because of the important service it offers to the participants in the program, elderly and volunteers alike, but also because of its interfaith aspect and its involvement of children in the program.

Click here to return to the 1999 Fain Award winners

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