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Not-so-extreme Makeover, (Hamaspik Group) Home Edition

January 19, 2017

By Mendy Hecht, Hamaspik Gazette

Not-so-extreme Makeover, (Hamaspik Group) Home Edition

A multifaceted makeover was recently completed at the Seven Springs Shvesterheim IRA, one of several Hamaspik group homes serving the upstate community of Kiryas Joel.

The completion of the overhaul came at the same time Seven Springs celebrated its anniversary—making the finishing of the project all the more reason to celebrate.

Having opened in the winter of 1999 some 18 years ago, Seven Springs underwent several expansions and interior improvements over the years.  Those included the addition of an on-site annex functioning as a small private apartment for a live-in couple who, of course, also serve as the home’s 24/7 Direct Support Professionals (DSPs).

Over the last several months, however, it was determined that one resident with recently-developed difficulties getting to sleep would do much better with her own private bedroom.

And with said as good as done at Hamaspik, Seven Springs’ second-story office was summarily relocated to the basement, with the newly-vacated upstairs space transformed into a dream bedroom for the young lady.  Wallpapered in delicate hues of rose and shades of pink, outfitted with color-coordinated new dressers and finished with beautiful curtains, the room was now the coziest of personal living spaces.

At the same time, several additional changes were completed throughout the house.

Besides giving the entire interior a freshening update, Hamaspik maintenance staff saw to it that an ample new storage room was installed in the basement.  An upstairs full bathroom was redesigned to better accommodate residents.  And rustic, warm wooden railings replaced the cold steel hardware formerly lining both sides of Seven Springs’ main staircase.

Perhaps the crowning touch to the home’s makeover was the replacement of Seven Springs’ aging dining-room set, which had faithfully served the residence since Day One.  The sizable new set, ushering in a new era at Seven Springs as it does, now sits regally in the dining room, providing sufficient seating for residents and staff alike (and with room to spare).

But Seven Springs wasn’t the only Hamaspik of Orange County group home to get a serious update.  That IRA’s older sister, Dinev, also recently got new furniture in the form of new easy chairs in various rooms, while all the homes likewise replaced their oldest bedframes with elegant new sets for their precious residents.

Speaking to the Gazette, residence managerial staff expressed special thanks to Hamaspik of Orange County’s dedicated Residential Manager Solomon Gelb.

But the real thanks was perhaps best expressed in the emotions verbalized and otherwise conveyed by the occupant of Seven Springs’ newest bedroom upon entering it for the first time—feelings of excitement and happiness that encapsulate why Hamaspik does what it does.

Happy birthday, Ezzy!  And Avri!  And Leiby!

It’s Ezzy’s birthday!  And of course, Ezzy gets a party at his birthday.  What else would you expect?  Especially when it’s also Avri and Leiby’s birthday.

The only surprise here would be if Shlomo Lebowitz, long-time Manager of the Hamaspik group home that Ezriel “Ezzy” G. calls home, didn’t throw a party for him.  And them.

“It was a triple bash,” says Lebowitz.

Since Hamaspik of Rockland County’s Arcadian Briderheim opened and Ezzy and his pals took up residence, Mr. Lebowitz and crew have been ensuring that “Mr. Ezzy” marks the salubrious passage of yet another happy year with yet another happy birthday party—replete with cake, decorations and the attendance of supportive and loving biological family members.

And a birthday bash in triplicate it was!

With experienced and caring Arcadian staffers Joel Fried, Joel Goldberger, Michoel “Chuli” Gottesman and Hillel Spitzer on hand clapping and cheering, Ezzy turned 29, Avri turned 21 and Leiby hit the Big Two-Three.

Making it all the merrier was the irreplaceable presence of proud family members of all three young men—who exulted as only mothers can as they joined their sons and their fellow residents around the dining room table… and whose happy faces silently all but shouted gratitude for the superlative support regularly rendered to their boys at Arcadian.

Happy birthday, Ezzy!  And Avri!  And Leiby!  And many happy and healthy returns—from all of us at Hamaspik.

Person-centered shopping at South 9th

“It was a wonderful shopping experience at IKEA where they chose the linen and lighting to enhance their bedroom[s],” read the e-mail in the Gazette’s inbox—“in the colors and design they preferred.”

So reported Mrs. Cziment, longtime manager of Hamaspik of Kings County’s South 9th Shvesterheim, on January 12.

At some point in the weeks running up to that brief missive, South 9th Assistant Manager Mrs. Walter and her staff bowed to the wishes of the young ladies they’ve long supported at South 9th, taking them out for a major-league shopping expedition at their nearest IKEA superstore.

Selecting their preferences for bedding, bedside night table lamps, and decorative throw pillows to round out their bedspreads, the shoppers made their rounds of IKEA’s voluminous aisles to pick the items that most tickled their fancy as matching their new bedroom furniture.

Said furniture, which included brand-new beds and night tables, was selected in the weeks before the IKEA trip at Brooklyn’s upscale Living Quarters retailer.  Once that was delivered and set up at South 9th, the residents were able to shop for matching linens and accessories.

With their rooms’ serviceable furnishings needing an update, the shopping was not just an exercise in the person-centeredness at the center of today’s special-needs support philosophy, but also a timely trip, too.

That expedition, the Manager correctly pointed out, was “All about person centered planning—where the individuals chose new contemporary furniture, linen and room decor.”

And choose they did.

Finding happy faces at 61st

A ring of the bell in the pre-dawn darkness of 6:00a a.m. brought on-duty Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) Elimelech Gelb, Dovy Klein and David Teichman to the front door.

It was the annual unannounced audit at Hamaspik of Kings County’s 61st St. Briderheim in Borough Park, and the two OPWDD visitors spent the next eight hours leaving no stone unturned.

When they left the afternoon of Thursday, Jan. 12, they left with no deficiencies found, despite going through pages of residents’ documentation and slowly walking through the premises.

But they did leave with one “finding,” they commented—residents’ happy faces.

“Nothing to find here!”

Not always the best results, that.

But in the context of an audit by inspectors with the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), Hamaspik’s public-sector partner, you don’t want your official visitors to come away with any findings.

Except good ones, of course.

And that, thanks to the drudgery-like diligence of daily documentation, eagle-eyed entries, and meticulous maintenance backed by a workplace culture of long hours and love, competence and compassion, led to no negative results at the 38th St. Shvesterheim’s most recent audit.

The group home, Hamaspik of Kings County’s youngest, is run diligently by Manager Mr. Israel Indig and Assistant Manager Mrs. Yona Kasnett, backed by DSPs Mrs. Ben-Aderet, Ms. Fonfeder, Ms. Herman, Mrs. Kirsh, Mrs. Levy, Mrs. Quito, Mrs. Sandler, Mrs. Singh, Ms. Tintea, Ms. Waldman, and Mrs. Zin.

Playing a key role in the Dec. 22 audit results were Hamaspik of Kings County IRA Nurse Mrs. Judy Schwartz, R.N. and Director of Development Naftali “Tuli” Tessler, both of whom were on hand throughout the lengthy visit to field every detailed support-related question.

Manager Indig made it a point to thank agency psychologist Mutty Solomon, LMHC for his critical part in allowing the group to confidently complete the audit.  In like manner, Assistant Manager Kasnett notes the constant contributions of Maintenance Manager Shea Waldman, whose hawk-eyed constant ministrations keep 38th (and all other Hamaspik of Kings facilities) in tip-top shape.

Backing them all up with the year-round support for 38th’s residents that made the results possible were (and are) Hamaspik Medicaid Service Coordinators (MSCs) Mrs. Feldman, Mrs. Leitner and Mrs. Zeitlin.

Thanks to all that team effort, more of “nothing” is all but expected.