A Birthday Fit for a Queen
It takes more than a global pandemic to stop Jewish Home residents from celebrating. This August, as people across the globe were grappling with the challenges of COVID-19, residents of Fountainview at Eisenberg Village were getting ready to party. The occasion: the 105th birthday of Dorothy Feldman, who has been a resident of Fountainview since it opened a decade ago.
The festivities may have been virtual, but the joy was clear for all to see. Nearly 70 people, including residents and family, gathered together over Zoom to toast Dorothy's longevity, as she regaled the crowd with stories that dated back over a century.
Storytelling comes naturally to Dorothy, notes Activities Coordinator Lauri Kamiel. "She's someone you want to sit down at a bar with, and she'll always make you laugh. Her delivery is great," she says.
Dorothy is one of Fountainview's matriarchs, and she was also the facility's first centenarian (four others have since followed). "Dorothy is amazing: she's a strong woman, and everyone knows who she is," Kamiel says. "We had a party for her when she turned 100, and she looked like a queen, surrounded by big "100" balloons. This year, because of the pandemic, the celebration was different, but she still looked regal wearing a crown and surrounded by roses and orchids when she called in for the birthday Zoom!"
The crown came courtesy of Lifestyle & Enrichment Director Carolyn Clark, who recycled it from Purim. Director of Dining Services Angel Perez provided a beautiful cake, which he and Kamiel decorated and photographed so they could post the image for party attendees to admire. "It felt like a real birthday party!" says resident and former Los Angeles City Councilmember Joy Picus. The chocolate birthday cake was served to residents that night for dessert.
Dorothy's son Ira Halpern, a member of the Jewish Home's Board of Directors, says he is thrilled the Fountainview community was able to come together to mark his mother's special milestone. Seeing my mother celebrate her 105th gave me the same feeling I have when I look up at the sky in amazement. As I see one bright shining star so much brighter than all the rest and the throbbing light it emanates reminds me of my mother," he says. "Although she is 105, she still cares about everyone in her circle, is curious how they are and continuously brings up memories from the past. She continually shares her thoughts about how we all should live our lives, whether one wants to listen or not. As she always says; ‘stay safe and live smart.' I am so thankful my mother is still healthy, in good spirits and happy to be alive, although at times she does complain about the virus, as we all do. I am especially thankful for the wonderful care she has received since living in Fountainview. From the wonderful staff, the celebrations, the activities and the sharing and camaraderie with her fellow residents. She has had an exceptional life."
The tribute to Dorothy was greatly timed, Kamiel observes. "With the pandemic, we've been doing whatever we can to keep our residents upbeat and to make sure they're finding ways to enjoy themselves," she says. Dorothy's virtual party provided the perfect opportunity.
"We're all sorely in need of optimism and inspiration right now," Kamiel says. "Watching Dorothy's incredible spirit, and seeing how it uplifted every person on the Zoom birthday celebration, was a wonderful gift for our entire community!"