Agency Viewpoint

Handmaker adding new sites, programs, more Jewish zest

Art Martin
Art Martin

Handmaker. Life blooms here.

In fact, Handmaker itself is blooming. In the last few years, with the hard work of staff and tireless efforts of our lay leaders, Handmaker has seen substantial growth. The dedication of our new two-story Kalmanovitz building, the acquisition and remodel of the SandRuby building for our community programs, and a marked increase in post-hospital care, all while growing our traditional assisted living programs, clearly show that Handmaker is a major asset to both the Jewish and general community of Handmaker.

Last year we added Nanci Levy to our staff to help Handmaker reach deeper into the Jewish community. She has been a true asset and has partnered with many members of the community to bring more content to Handmaker. This spring, our rabbis’ lecture series culminated with a fantastic three-member panel of rabbis — the audience filled our Great Room. Additionally, through the efforts of some highly dedicated volunteers (you know who you are!), Handmaker celebrates all the major holidays with services and many members of the community come to join us. The coming year will see more efforts and the results are already showing; at this moment nearly 50 percent of the residents in our traditional assisted living are Jewish.

As mentioned above, Handmaker acquired a new building at the corner of Rosemont and Farness that now houses our new SandRuby Community Programs. These are Monday through Friday programs that cater to people living in the community but facing challenges to their independence. At SandRuby they find days full of activities, fun, great food and now new program additions to develop and retain daily life skills (from making a bed to cooking), special apps to use on iPads, and supported field trips around Tucson. It is truly a special niche to fill in the Tucson community and we hope to see our daily attendance double in the next 18 months.

This is not to say completely smooth sailing is in the weather forecast. The regulatory and insurance payment environment has been in constant change for years, so what is a financially viable program today, might be a financial drain six months from now. Tucson and Southern Arizona also continue to see large, out of state corporations building new facilities that compete with Handmaker. Unlike Handmaker, they are for profit and often have no room for folks who outlive their retirement savings. We need the community to access Handmaker’s services at the beginning of their needs and not when their funds are depleted. Lastly, as everyone knows, the competition for philanthropic dollars is stiffer than ever.

Please consider this an invitation from the entire Handmaker community, residents, staff, and lay leaders to come see today’s Handmaker. It might hold some surprises for you, and hopefully, be just the partner needed in caring for a loved one in need.

Art Martin is president and CEO of Handmaker Jewish Services for the Aging.