A few years ago, Judy Appleton was leading High Holiday services at Encore at Avalon Park. She was working for The Jewish Pavilion as a program director and had reached out to family members of the residents to see if they could join them for the upcoming holiday program.
She remembers one program quite vividly.
When Judy spoke to the daughter of a resident, the woman said she was very busy at work and probably could not attend. Thankfully, the daughter made the effort and did come to the event. She walked in and sat down next to her mother, who had not spoken a word in years due to Alzheimer’s.
As Judy led the residents and family through the prayers and songs, the daughter’s mother started singing! It was the first time she had heard her mother’s voice in two years and she cried with joy!
“The Jewish Pavilion helped to make that experience happen,” Judy says. “The Jewish Pavilion staff and volunteers come in with programming that often reminds the elders of their youth. Their voices get stronger as they remember the prayers and songs and they become more alert and actively participate.”
The Jewish Pavilion had helped Judy become stronger too.
Several years prior, when Judy was recovering from the final stages of treatment for breast cancer, Nancy Ludin, the CEO of The Jewish Pavilion, called and offered her a position within the organization.
“Judy’s name was brought up to me by several people as someone who could really help our organization,” Nancy says. “We knew we needed people who could not only help provide the services for our seniors but truly develop this position into something great.”
For Judy, it was an easy decision. After all, she had been “in the service of others” for her entire life.
Judy raised a family, worked and volunteered with many organizations and programs within her community. For many years she served various roles in the schools in Oviedo. Additionally, she was a founding member of Temple Shir Shalom of Oviedo and she served on the board of trustees.
“The best way to help yourself is to help someone else and to be of service to others,” she says.
After Judy said “Yes” to Nancy Ludin, she worked with The Jewish Pavilion for the next nine years before retiring from the organization. During those years, she successfully brought Jewish programs to more than 20 different facilities, and she helped seniors remember their youth and reconnect with their religion and their community.
“The Jewish Pavilion became part of my extended family,” Judy says. “By helping the Pavilion grow and serving the Jewish elders in Central Florida, I was able to regain my strength, heal and grow as well.”
So much so that she began traveling whenever and wherever possible. One special trip for Judy was when she traveled solo to Israel to experience Passover in The Holy Land.
Judy’s retirement from The Jewish Pavilion was short-lived.
When Nancy asked her to come back on staff, she happily accepted and returned to her duties as program director.
Today, Judy continues to serve the elders in Central Florida. She brings the joys of Judaism, holiday programs and Shabbats to the residents and their families at various assisted living, independent living and memory care facilities.