WHEN YOU’RE SMILING . . .
Greeting a visitor at the door of her sparkling apartment in Sunny Isles Beach, Regina Friedman is the epitome of the gracious hostess. A warm welcome is followed by an introduction to Denise Pierre, her parttime companion from Masada Home Care, an independent agency affiliated with Jewish Community Services (JCS).
As Regina talks about the difference JCS’ programs – Masada Home Care, JCS Clean Sweep and Holocaust Survivor Support Services — have made in her life, it’s obvious this is a uniquely positive person. Bubbly and energetic, she peppers her conversation with phrases like “When I don’t complain, I don’t have to explain” and “It’s not enough to be blessed. You have to know you are blessed.”
BEHIND THE SMILE
But as you delve deeper into Regina’s life story, a harsh picture of unimaginable suffering and heartache emerges, albeit reluctantly. She doesn’t like to talk about the past.
Born in Poland 86 years ago, Regina was just 14 when she, her parents and two sisters were split up and sent to the concentration camps. Regina and her younger sister went to Auschwitz, which they miraculously survived before being transferred to a series of camps in Czechoslavakia. The rest of her family perished under the Nazis.
After being liberated in 1945, Regina went to a displaced persons camp in Germany where she met her future husband, also a Polish survivor of the Holocaust. They married in 1946 and emigrated to New York City in 1950.
JCS STEPS IN TO HELP
Settling in the Bronx, Regina and Manuel found what low-paying jobs they could. In 1998, following a lifetime of hard work and after watching their two children graduate from college and launch professional careers, Regina and her husband retired and moved to Sunny Isles Beach.
Nine years ago, as her husband’s health began to fail and she felt the effects of her advancing age, Regina realized she needed assistance and heard about JCS’ services. “I called and they sent me Denise, who has been with me ever since,” Regina says. Denise cared lovingly for Manuel during his final years until he passed away in 2006 and does a little bit of everything for Regina.
“The help I get from JCS is literally life saving,” Regina says as she pats Denise’s hand. It’s obvious these two women have a much closer relationship than that of mere caretaker and client. Just as it’s obvious that Regina’s faith has helped her overcome tragedies that could easily have destroyed a less spirited person. “I consider myself lucky,” Regina says. “ HaShem is always there to help me.”
If you know someone like Regina who could benefit from Jewish Community Services comprehensive array of social services and health-related programs, please contact JCS Access at 305.576.6550 or visit www.jcsfl.org.