SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (June 21, 2021) – When a small group of older adults walked through the doors of the Dorothy and Peter Brown Jewish Community Adult Day Program in early June, their first time back in 15 months, they were greeted by welcome-back banners, bouquets of paper flowers, hand-decorated cards, posters and, of course, plenty of big smiles.
The artwork was created by students at West Maple Elementary School in Bloomfield Township, which has had a long-term relationship with the Brown Program, an adult day program that improves the lives of people living with dementia and their care partners, run jointly by JVS Human Services and Jewish Senior Life.
Their relationship started with a pen pal program between fifth-grade students and the Brown Program participants, culminating in an end-of-school in-person visit to the center in pre-pandemic years. Fortunately, through continued Character Education work at West Maple, which included community outreach, children throughout the school, from kindergarten up, became involved in creating artwork for the Brown Program.
“We try to meet several times a year to work on our school culture and integrate character into our daily practices, including a way to foster a sense of family amongst all of our students,” said Jason Pesamoska, principal of West Maple Elementary, a Birmingham Public School near Inkster and Maple roads. “Working with the Brown Program has been a wonderful opportunity for our students this spring.”
As for the staff at the Brown Program, the first day back June 3 was exhilarating, emotional and long-awaited. “We could feel it in the air, the excitement was palpable,” said Brown Program Director Debi Banooni. “When the program first closed, we had thought it would be for a few months, but then it kept extending. Back in January, we were planning to reopen, but then COVID-19 infection rates went up and it was not safe to do so. Being all together again, finally, was so wonderful. Everyone was smiling so much.”
Read the rest of the article from The Detroit Jewish News here.