Sunday, March 26, 2023

By Pearl Ricklis, JFS Director of Senior Services; Shaina Bodenheim, Director of Programming and On-Site Coordinator; and Sarala Katz, Assistant On-Site Coordinator

The isolation brought on by COVID over the past two years has dramatically affected older adults, who have suffered significantly due to forced separation from family and friends. Barriers to maintaining these important connections can be especially devastating later in life, studies show, with isolation taking a significant toll on physical, cognitive, emotional, and spiritual well-being (Journal of Gerontology, Volume 77, April 2022).

Fortunately, at Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Clifton-Passaic, Club Sequoia offers older adults much needed social connection, as well as wellness resources for the mind and body. Located at 110 Main Avenue in Passaic, Club Sequoia provides programming for three hours per day, Monday through Thursday. Although virtual programs are available, our seniors and clinicians recommend joining in person to enjoy the warmth and the camaraderie that face-to-face encounters bring.

We address physical needs with a variety of exercises, including cardio, range-of-motion and chair yoga. Nourishing lunches attend to members’ nutritional needs, while intellectual interests are met with lectures on Jewish philosophy and documentary films; current events discussion groups; a monthly book club; and a Jewish history course. We have featured instructors on nutrition, professional organizing and health issues that offer regular opportunities to learn and hone new skills. Holiday parties are enjoyed throughout the year—our upcoming Independence Day celebration will be held in July, with a barbecue, entertainment and the chance to renew friendships and to make new friends.

Thanks to the Wallerstein Foundation for Geriatric Improvement, JFS received a grant for seven unique arts programming courses throughout 2022. Our seniors have already enjoyed multiple programs through this grant. Jenny Psaki, a member of the Screen Actors Guild and a graduate of the NYU School of Fine Arts, instructed the film critique program. The “Anyone Can Sing” course, taught by Mara Adler O’Kelly, a vocal educator from the Garden State Opera, had our seniors singing along to their favorite musicals. “Back to the Catskills: Discover the Acting Roots You Never Knew You Had” was taught by Albert Verdesca, whose theater career includes acting, directing and playwriting.

Our seniors are now enjoying an art appreciation group with Ruthie Bashan, a dynamic art therapist and social worker. Bashan is running a “Let’s Talk about Art” program, in which she invites the participants to explore their connection and reaction to a variety of visual artworks from different times and cultures, and to articulate their feelings about the art. Three additional programs are in the planning stage.

Our members have a lot to say about what Club Sequoia does for them:

Lila loves the exercise, loves being active and feels this is a wonderful program.

Barbara feels these programs are not available anywhere else, particularly history, arts, acting and creative writing. She says that the program has made her a better person.

Ceil loves the socializing and telling jokes. She feels that the loneliness and isolation of the COVID era has been remedied by the socializing at Club Sequoia.

Free transportation is available to and from Club Sequoia for residents of Clifton and Passaic.

If you or a family member would like to find new friends and bring a variety of stimulating programs into your life, we invite you to call Club Sequoia at (862) 400-2074. A great opportunity to join a warm and caring program awaits you.

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