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Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation

‘Photography helps people see’ ~ Berenice Abbott

By Heidi Sutton

Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Commack revealed the winners of its 26th annual Photo Contest at an award ceremony and reception on Sept. 18. The highlight of the evening was a traditional slide show of the winning selections from this and previous years. Project Assistant Phyllis Barone handed out the awards for the evening.

Sponsored by the Tiffen Company for the 13th year in a row, this year’s competition drew almost 800 entries from amateur photographers across the country. Of those submissions, 46 photos were chosen to be enlarged, framed and hung on permanent display in the nursing home. The breathtaking images will be on exhibit in the Helen and Nat Tiffen Gallery for a year and will then move up to the resident units.

The innovative event is the brainchild of Dennine W. Cook, chief public relations officer at Gurwin who came up with the initial idea in 1993 as a way of “making [Gurwin’s] bare walls worthy of a smile.”

“Your beautiful photography does more than just decorate the nursing and rehab center; it creates an ambiance that feels like home. It inspires people. It comforts people. It brings joy to people, not just our residents but our staff and visitors as well, every day,” said Cook. ”There aren’t that many things that you can do in this world that have that kind of sustaining impact.”

“This a favorite event of ours,” said President and CEO of the Gurwin Healthcare System Stuart B. Almer before thanking Cook for coming up with the contest and for “beautifying our hallways.”

This year’s winning photos are presented in a modern and stylish wooden frame provided by The Frame Center in Smithtown, as opposed to the silver metal framing of previous years, after Almer suggested the change “to enhance the photos even further.” All future contest winners will have the same frame “so the building looks nice and uniform going forward” he said.

Cook went on to speak of the profound impact these incredible images have made on residents of the 460-bed facility “to whom they mean so much.” She spoke of Debbie, a 60-year-old traumatic brain injury survivor at the facility. “She’s writing a book, she’s committed to getting back out into the world to compete in her second Iron Man. She’s feisty, she’s focused, she’s fierce, and she gets some of her inspiration from your photos on the wall.”

“This contest, although competitive and a great achievement for you as a photographer, is really about the people who get to see your work once it is chosen,” explained Cook.

The annual contest does not accept digital entries, only 8 × 10 prints, which are not returned. However, Cook was quick to assure the audience that all of the submissions will be put to good use. “[The residents] use them in art therapy as painting and drawing inspiration and in crafting classes. It’s become a great resource here at Gurwin and everyone is very grateful.”

This year’s judges, Christopher Appoldt (Christopher Appoldt Photography) and Tony Lopez (Tony Lopez Photography), were given the difficult task of choosing a grand prize winner along with honorable mentions for 12 categories as well as Best in Show, which this year was awarded to Bryan Ray from Half Moon Bay, California for “The Great Migration,” a stunning image of hundreds of wildebeest attempting to cross a river in Africa during a migration to greener pastures. Five additional photos were chosen as Resident Selections.

Added Cook, “All the selections, whether they be Honorable Mentions, Grand Prizes or Resident Selections will be judged, discussed and enjoyed by so many appreciative eyes for years to come and to me that’s the real honor — that your photos will hang for decades here in our resident’s home.”

Entries for next year’s photo contest will be accepted between Feb. 15 and April 15, 2020.

2019 WINNING SELECTIONS

BEST IN SHOW

“The Great Migration” by Bryan Ray

ACTION/SPORTS CATEGORY

Grand Prize

“Drive to the Net” by Elise Rubin

Honorable Mention

“Skater Boy” by Carolyn Ciarelli

Honorable Mention

“Shake It Off” by James Napoli

ALTERED/ENHANCED CATEGORY

Grand Prize

“View from Governer’s Island” by Susan Silkowitz

Honorable Mention

“Captain America Caleb” by Deidre Elzer-Lento

Honorable Mention

“Working in the Fields” by Jan Golden

Honorable Mention

‘Unisphere After Dark” by Leon Hertzson

CHILDREN’S CATEGORY

Grand Prize

“Serenity” by Ashley Tonno

Honorable Mention

“Four of a Kind” by Donna Crinnian

Honorable Mention

“The Friendly Forest Fairy” by Sarah Wenk

LANDSCAPES CATEGORY

Grand Prize

“Glade Creek Grist Mill” by Mike DiRenzo

Honorable Mention

“Tufted Landscape” by Jeff Goldschmidt

Honorable Mention

“Horseshoe Falls, Niagara” by Barbara McCahill

LONG ISLAND/NEW YORK CATEGORY

Grand Prize

“Melville Pond” by Jeff Goldschmidt

Honorable Mention

“Croton Dam” by Ellen Dunn

Honorable Mention

“Never Forget” by Carol Milazzo-DiRenzo

NATURE CATEGORY

Grand Prize

“Solitary” by Jo-Anne Bodkin

Honorable Mention

“Under Angel Oak” by Carol Goldstein

Honorable Mention

“From Bud to Bloom” by Meryl Lorenzo

Honorable Mention

“Night Dreams” by Carol Milazzo-DiRenzo

PEOPLE CATEGORY

Grand Prize

“Balancing Act” by Alan Sloyer

Honorable Mention

“Ballerina on Malecon, Cuba” by Roni Chastain

Honorable Mention

“Waiting for Sunrise, Death Valley” by Ellen Dunn

PETS CATEGORY

Grand Prize

“Little Miss” by Lora Ann Batorsky

Honorable Mention 

“Callie” by Jill Fanuzzi

Honorable Mention

“What’s for Dinner?” by Dan Greenburg

STILL LIFE CATEGORY

Grand Prize

“Silk Threads” by Jo-Anne Bodkin

Honorable Mention

“Pink Rose” by Ellen Gallagher

Honorable Mention

“Mailbox, Italy” by Sondra Hammer

Honorable Mention

“Sunflower in Window” by William Hammer

TRAVEL CATEGORY

Grand Prize

“Balloon over Bagan” by Alan Sloyer

Honorable Mention

“Starry Night in Rome” by Mike DiRenzo

Honorable Mention

“Lofoten, Norway” by Debbie Monastero

Honorable Mention

“The Dolomites” by Bobbie Turner

WILDLIFE CATEGORY

Grand Prize

“Snowy Flies” by Janis Hurley

Honorable Mention

“In Flight” by Adina Karp

Honorable Mention

“Mama Duck” by Carol Goldstein

STUDENT CATEGORY

Grand Prize

“The Vessel” by Alex Horowitz

Honorable Mention

“Cake Pop” by Chloe Catton

Honorable Mention

“Lost in the Green” by Stephanie Clarfield

RESIDENT SELECTIONS

“Cousins” by Howard Antosofsky

“Letchworth” by Rachel Perks

“Tufted Titmouse” by Michael Danielson

“Tall Ships Visit Greenport” by Barbara McCahill

“Harbor Seal” by Jacqueline Taffe

Niara Magezi and Brennan Rosenblatt were honored for their volunteerism.
Teens honored for their efforts to build a more civil society

Teen volunteers at Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation Center Niara Magezi (Dix Hills) of Commack High School and Brennan Rosenblatt (Melville) of Half Hollow Hills East High School were presented with the Students Building Bridges award by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Long Island (JCRC-LI) at a ceremony held at the Gurwin Center on May 9.

The award recognizes community youth for their efforts to help create a more civil society and is part of the Yom HaShoah Holocaust Remembrance Program sponsored by the JCRC-LI and Suffolk County State Senate and Assembly Delegations.

Magezi, a junior at Commack High School, has been volunteering at Gurwin for the past three years. Her time spent with the residents and assisting staff on the nursing units has given her the opportunity to learn about the many paths in health care. She is planning for a career in the medical field, specializing in dermatology. 

Rosenblatt first came to Gurwin as a high school sophomore, befriending many residents during his weekly visits, updating them on his very active life and sharing his experiences with them.  Now a graduating senior heading to Georgia Tech to study engineering this fall, he says the time spent with his Gurwin friends is as important to him as it is to them.   

This year’s Yom HaShoah Holocaust Remembrance Program featured guest speaker and Holocaust survivor Meir Usherovitz  who recounted his life as a Jewish youth in Poland during World War II and his imprisonment in several Polish concentration camps, including the notorious Auschwitz.

Several Holocaust survivors from Gurwin Jewish–Fay J. Lindner Residences assisted living community were in attendance to meet Usherovitz and to help recognize the Gurwin volunteers and other student honorees.

Resident Sherle and recreation therapist Nicole Hopper pose with the center’s new therapeutic pet. Photo from Gurwin Jewish

COMMACK: The votes are in and tallied for the Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation Center’s bunny naming contest. As a result of a social media contest, Gurwin residents revealed today the new name of their adopted pet therapy bunny, now known as Nelly Furwin.    

In the few short weeks he’s been at Gurwin, Nelly has endeared himself to both staff and residents alike. “Spending time snuggling and stroking his soft fur provides a source of comfort and happiness and induces a sense of nurturing,” said Dawn Lettau, director of therapeutic recreation at Gurwin. “A daily dose of Nelly is the ideal prescription to improve overall mood. Thank you to all who participated in our contest to help give our furry friend the perfect name!”

Resident Faith enjoys a snuggle with the new bunny. Photo courtesy of Gurwin Jewish

Residents at Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Commack are celebrating the arrival of a new addition to the Gurwin family,  a 2-year-old bunny rescued from The Groomery in Stony Brook.

As delighted as the residents are with their newfound friend, the bunny, whose name will be determined by a social media contest in the coming week, is enjoying his new home and all the love and attention he is receiving.  

 “Animals provide a warm and comforting presence to our residents,” said Dawn Lettau, director of therapeutic recreation at Gurwin. “Research has shown pet therapy helps people with a wide range of medical conditions, including chronic pain, heart disease, depression and more. Our residents are already feeling the love.” 

While many people think of dogs as pet therapy animals, in reality many different types of animals are used for therapy. “Our residents enjoy regular visits with exotic animals from the local pet shop, as well as puppies from the Guide Dog Foundation and from other pet therapy programs. Our fish tank and bird aviary are popular areas within our facility for relaxation. We’re happy to add our new bunny to our growing menagerie,” added Lettau.

Visit Gurwin Jewish’s Facebook page to participate in a naming contest beginning Wednesday, April 4.   

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Staci Rosenberg-Simons introduces calendar model Beatrice Halperin. Photo from Gurwin Jewish

Two U.S. Army veterans (one of whom liberated the first concentration camp discovered at the close of World War II), a Holocaust survivor, a former vice president of the New York Mets wearing his 1986 World Series ring, two centenarians and nine additional seniors, aged 75 to 105, each took turns arriving on a celebrity red carpet on Dec. 20 to celebrate their participation in the L’dor V’dor From Generation to Generation 2018 calendar. This is the sixth annual calendar featuring the residents of Gurwin Jewish–Fay J. Lindner Assisted Living in Commack.

From left, Gurwin President & CEO Stuart B. Almer with Halperin and Michael Letter, administrator & COO, Gurwin Jewish–Fay J. Lindner Residences. Photo from Gurwin Jewish

Rather than depicting adorable pets, hunky firemen or dreamy vacation spots, the annual Gurwin calendar showcases residents displaying the beauty of age and their wisdom. Residents were chosen for their unique personal story and their active involvement in daily life at Gurwin. The calendar was photographed over two days earlier this year, in a professional celebrity-style photo shoot that included hair and makeup.

“Gurwin’s unique calendar honors the wonderful residents of our assisted living community,” said Stuart B. Almer, president and CEO of the Gurwin family of health care services. “The sage advice from the ‘Greatest Generation’ contained in its pages is made all the more meaningful because of their rich life experiences.”

The celebration included many members of the calendar models’ families. Among them was Beatrice Halperin, 101, who was joined by three generations of her family for a unique four-generation family photo. Her advice: “Just Dance!”

“We are so thrilled to recognize the vitality and vibrancy of our seniors, who inspire us on a daily basis,” said Staci Rosenberg-Simons, director of community relations at Gurwin’s assisted living facility. “The portraits are stunning, and their words of advice resonate with all who read them.” The calendar is available free of charge at www.gurwin.org. For more information, call 631-715-2562.

Last year’s Best in Show winner, “The Children of the Land” by Lorraine Piskin

Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, located at 68 Hauppauge Road in Commack, invites all amateur photographers to participate in its 24th Annual Photo Contest. The unique contest, which garners submissions from across the globe, offers amateur photographers, including students, not only an opportunity to be recognized for their work but also the chance to make an impact on the lives of those living at the nursing and rehabilitation center.

Winning photos are enlarged and placed on permanent display in the center’s renowned Tiffen Photo Gallery for the enjoyment of residents and visitors alike. Submissions not selected for a prize are used by Gurwin’s staff as reminiscence aids, for visual stimulation and for art therapy, providing a source of comfort and inspiration for residents, specifically those in the Center’s Memory Care Unit and Adult Day Care Programs.

Photographers may submit up to seven printed 8×10 or 8×12 photographs for a fee of $5 per entry in the following categories: Landscapes, Travel, People, Pets, Children, Wildlife, Nature, Still Life, Altered/Enhanced, Student, Long Island/New York and Action/Sports. Judging will be conducted by a panel of professional photographers at the close of the contest, and winners will be chosen based on clarity, composition, subject matter and suitability for display at the center. The deadline for submission in April 17.

Winning photographers are invited to a June reception at the Gurwin Center where they will receive their cash prize, award certificate and/or trophy. Applications are available at http://www.gurwin.org/about/photo-contest/or by calling the Public Relations Office at 631-715-2568.