On June 6, 2019, JF&CS hosted the Art of Resilience, a celebration of the Charlotte & Richard Okonow Parkinson’s Family Support program. Clients, staff, volunteers and donors gathered to enjoy refreshments and entertainment from the JF&CS Parkinson’s Dancers and Tremble Clefs choral singers. JF&CS board member Kim Creem attended the event and wrote this beautiful reflection on her experience.

The Art of Resilience was an event that I had always wanted to attend. I had never been able to come, mainly due to conflicts with my family’s weekend activities. However, there was also another nagging issue for me. I would be surrounded for two hours with people who suffer from the same disease that my mother was diagnosed with over 25 years ago.

It is interesting to me that, on paper, I can talk about, encourage and support the Charlotte & Richard Okonow Parkinson’s Family Support program at JF&CS. However, being there in person is emotionally devastating for me—tearing at my heart and bringing a deep sadness like no other.

Today was the day to challenge myself and face my emotions head-on. The Art of Resilience clearly fit into my schedule, and I was determined to be there and to be fully present.

So Much Good for so Many People

As I drove toward the entrance to JF&CS, I realized that every car in front of me was entering the parking lot as well. I had no idea that this program would be so well-attended. I was pleasantly surprised!

When I entered the room, I saw Marilyn Okonow, volunteer conductor of the Tremble Clefs, and Art Sullivan, instructor for the Parkinson’s Dancers, both skillfully preparing their respective groups. I was excited to see what was in store. Clients entered walking on their own, with a cane, walker or wheelchair—they were all spirited and excited to perform.

What amazed me the most about the day was all of the mitzvot (good deeds) and all of the tikkun olam (repairing the world) happening in one place! While walking to my seat, I happened to look out the back window to see Bernice Behar with her staff and volunteers unloading a huge truck with goods for Family Table, the JF&CS food pantry, all while we were inside on the second floor celebrating the strength, grit and resilience of those living with Parkinson’s disease. I felt a chill go through me and said to the staff of JF&CS that I was always amazed by this organization—one that does so much good for so many people all of the time!

Uplifting and Emotional

I swelled up with tears as the performance began. Between Eli playing his guitar and the most articulate and poised speech from Anne Muskopf, Okonow Parkinson’s Family Support program director, I knew the morning was time well-spent. As Marilyn conducted her singers, I felt the inspiration, hope and sense of community that JF&CS brings out in people. I spent two hours crying, laughing, singing and dancing.

The Art of Resilience will be in my calendar for years to come. I encourage those of you who have not attended to make it next year. It is a day that we should be so proud to be associated with JF&CS and an opportunity to marvel in the work they provide to this community.

If you have questions about Parkinson’s disease or would like more information about our programs, contact Anne Muskopf at amuskopf@jfcsboston.org or 781-647-JFCS (5327).

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