Friday, January 7, 2011
Why We Give - Michael and Lynne Heslov: a Personal Journey
Every form of giving begins with personal involvement.
Like many people whose lives are forever touched when a vulnerable parent is lovingly cared for, the Heslovs, Lynne and Michael, came to regard the Home and its staff almost as an extension of their family.
It is a relationship they cherish to this day.
Several years ago, life took an unexpected turn for the Heslovs when Michael's father, Arthur, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. His mother, Jerrie, went through several difficult years of caring for Arthur, but as he became more dependent and withdrawn, Michael and his brothers feared her health would give under the strain.
“We feared we could lose both our parents to the demands of the disease,” Michael says. “Then we learned about the Jewish Home's Goldenberg-Ziman Special Care Center for seniors with Alzheimer's and related dementias.”
As marvelous as the Home's acclaimed Goldenberg-Ziman Center is, the choice to move an ailing parent from their home is rarely as easy one.
“It is an agonizing decision,” says Lynne. “You have guilt. But when we brought Arthur to the Home, we knew he was in such good hands. It made the decision easier.”
“The quality of care at the Jewish Home was far better than it would have been at home, under the best of circumstances,” adds Michael, who was introduced to the Home by former Board of Directors Chair Dave Swartz. “They were so much better equipped to deal with his needs.”
The Home provided all the medical and physical care Arthur required, freeing the entire Heslov family to provide love and support he needed and deserved.
“We told my father he was going to a place for a few days for some testing,” Michael recalls. “Though we told him his stay would be temporary, my father was so expertly cared for and engaged that he never expressed a desire to return home!”
In her daily visits, Michael's mother, Jerrie, noted how carefully groomed Arthur was, his clothing always freshly pressed. The Home's staff members were as loving and involved in his concerns as if they'd been members of his own family.
Lynne recalls that the staff took Arthur out to the garden, which he always loved, and to music and art presentations. “Things like this gave us all such peace of mind,” she says.
After two years at the Home, Arthur passed away. In appreciation for the care he received, Jerrie took on the responsibility of co-chairing the Home's gala Reflections dinners in 2007 and 2008.
Michael, who is a co-partner in the real estate development company of Soboroff Partners, has contributed his expertise to the successful effort to establish the Home's new Gonda Healthy Aging Westside Campus.
As chair of the Board's Budget and Finance Committee, Michael understands the Home's financial challenges and the need for creative solutions. “Some 75-80% of the Home's residents are subsidized by the generosity of the community,” he says.
After serving for two years, Michael was elected to the two-year position as Chair of the Home's Board. At 39, he is one of the youngest executives ever to hold this position.
Michael points out that the exceptional level of care and attention our seniors receive is due in large measure to the contributions of the community.
“It is an honor,” he says, “to commit my time and energies to an organization that is doing so much to improve life for our most vulnerable seniors and their families. Both Lynne and I are passionate about the Home's care for our elderly, at every stage of need.”