Last week, I was privileged to witness one of the more touching moments in my career (and perhaps even in the history of Jewish Orange County) – the opening of Horwitz Family House, our second Jewish residential home for adults with special needs.
Horwitz Family House follows in the tradition of our first residential home, Mandel House, and is part of Jewish Federations & Family Services (JFFS) Special Needs Services. JFFS residential homes for adults with special needs provide a supported living environment that meets the unique needs of residents and gives them the opportunity to be active in Jewish life. Residents receive assistance with daily living and learn about self-care and healthy living, but they also have the chance to cook together, handle chores, and socialize – all the things that make a house a home. Jewish organizations and community volunteers partner with JFFS to provide Jewish cultural and seasonal events.
Mostly, our Special Needs Services embrace the uniqueness of each person and independence and freedom of choice are encouraged so that individuals can reach their full potential. Because that’s really what we all want in life – the freedom to reach our full potential. To be given the opportunity to do and be our best. To be included.
This sentiment was underscored by the parents of one of the residents, whom I got to meet at the opening. Their daughter is a wonderful woman with a dynamic personality whose strong interest in becoming a cosmetologist is evident from her hair to her very colorful nails. They shared with me how grateful they are for their daughter’s experience with JFFS and to know that there is this place for her.
People have asked them why they would send their child away to live in a group home. And their response was touching and spot on: Their child too deserves to have a life of her own, with her own friends and in her own community. What any other programs have to offer their beloved daughter pales in comparison to the experiences she has at Horwitz Family House where they can come and visit on regular basis and be part of her life, instead of her being a part of theirs.
Horwitz Family House became a reality thanks to the generosity of Bernie Horwitz and Brad Horwitz, through the Horwitz Family Memorial Fund, and numerous other local philanthropists who recognized a profound need in our community and committed to help. Now, parents know their children will have a safe and loving home away from home and the opportunity to be active in Jewish life. What a testament to the love and dedication of Jewish Orange County to care for all people in need and strengthen our community!
Indeed, when we intentionally plan for the success and happiness of everyone in our community, we all benefit. Most importantly, we fulfill the fundamental Jewish value of Gemulit Hasidim – the gift of loving-kindness. May we all strive for more loving-kindness in our lives and in our community.
(L-R) Rabbi Heidi Cohen, Brad Horwitz, Bernie Horwitz, Arlene Miller, Dr. Lauren Brand
Mission Statement: We care for people in need and strengthen Jewish community in Orange County, Israel, and around the world.