March is Music Therapy Month, and at the Cummings Centre we offer a range of programs designed to enhance people’s quality of life through music making.  People join for a variety of reasons.  Happy Hour Ukulele Club member, Stephen Weinstein, shares a little about the benefits of making music online.

“Although not designated as a “music therapy program” per se, our ukulele club does indeed serve that purpose, though perhaps not intentionally. It gives purpose, builds confidence, discipline and friendships (albeit remotely for the time being). In addition it brings joy and smiles, especially after playing and perfecting a difficult piece. Did I mention the dexterity (physical and mental) required to play this tiny instrument? And if you are introduced to new songs and can sing the songs, the benefits are compounded.

– Stephen Weinstein

At the start of the pandemic when fitness clubs were temporarily closing their doors, Polina Klein, 65, knew that exercise was so important to her well-being that she had to continue working out. With the Cummings virtual offerings, the choice was made easy.
Klein works out several times a week in morning cardio, cardio strength interval classes, and dance fitness program. With February’s heart health month drawing attention to making healthy lifestyle choices, such as engaging in regular fitness activity, Klein agrees whole heartedly. “With winter, the pandemic and staying home as much as possible, exercise is more important than ever for overall physical and mental health,” says Klein. “The classes offered through the Cummings Centre are amazing. This is the highlight of my day. I also feel better. There is no question about this.”
Klein’s enthusiasm for exercise also convinced her 85-year-old father, Boris Sela to register for a fitness program as well.

– Polina Klein

“I love the variety offered in the Cummings Live events ….all types of speakers, classes,  exercises etc.  The live Zoom classes that I took so far have been great and I look forward to all the others I have registered for. It’s really a great way to help keep us occupied at this time and to show you care.

Of course, everyone looks forward to returning to our classes at the centre one day!  But in the meantime, these online programs are making our lives so much easier and fun. Something to look forward to each day and we don’t have to leave our homes! Cummings continues to be so important to the community.”

– Gloria Pascal

As part of a new Inter-generational initiative with Herzliah High School, 9 students volunteer are calling 18 seniors on a weekly basis providing seniors with much needed telephone conversation. Joshua Hazan Mea, one of these care callers has formed strong bonds with several seniors and urges his fellow students to do the same.

“My contribution making care calls to Cummings Centre volunteers who are isolated has been a personally enriching experience. In such times of uncertainty and unease, I am calmed by their faith, wiseness and intelligence. I take great pride in the volunteer work that I do – for many, self-isolation can be an extremely difficult and lonely time. I feel greatly comforted knowing that I am improving the lives of individuals in my community. The bonds I have formed through this initiative are unbreakable and transcend the barriers of physical interaction. It is my sincere hope others follow suit by participating in this project and making the difference I know they are capable of achieving.”

– Joshua Hazan Mea

As a budding ukulele student, I am so appreciative of the Victoria McNeil’s ukulele sing-a-long available on the Cummings Virtual Learning Library during this unusual time of social distancing. From Home on the Range to Blue Suede shoes and more, I’m so happy to strum and play along to the tunes I’ve practiced. I can now enjoy a ‘Happy Ukulele Hour’ anytime!

– Sophia Wolkowicz

Guitar-playing, ukulele-strumming, singer-songwriter Stephen Weinstein, says ‘For me, music is a release from the everyday stresses of life and, in particular, during these trying times.’ Stephen adds ‘There is nothing more uplifting than recreating or playing songs that bring you back to your youth.  Coming up with an original tune that has special meaning is really satisfying too.’  Using your creative instincts can help to quickly put you in a different frame of mind and ultimately bring a smile to your face. Whether you play or appreciate music, the benefits are astounding! I hope these tunes put a smile on your face.

– Stephen Weinstein

I am so grateful to Cummings for giving me the opportunity to call and check in on members regularly and hear how they are managing in these trying Covid-19 times. It is so gratifying to refer someone in need to the Helpline or website where they can find so many resources and activities to keep busy. So many members that I speak to affirm to me how Cummings has impacted their lives and that thanks to the Cummings Centre, they feel like they have a second family. These meaningful one-on-one conversations confirm over and over how Cummings is more than an organization- it is a place where members and staff are like family and everyone looks after one another.

– Shelley Paris, member of the Cummings Centre Board of Directors

“It’s amazing how these technological advancements have helped seniors like me cope throughout this pandemic and the increased isolation it brings,” says Tommy. Tom Strasser, Holocaust survivor, participant and educator on five Marches of the Living and 30-year Cummings Centre volunteer, has weathered many storms throughout his life. Contributing to this year’s Montreal Yom Hashoah ceremony presented a new set of challenges because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Already somewhat technically savvy keeping in touch with family and friends, especially his children and grandchildren through emails and FaceTime, Tommy wanted to learn Zoom technology. With the help of the Cummings Centre Communications staff, Tommy mastered this new skill and proudly recorded his contribution to this year’s commemoration, “It was really important for me to contribute to the Yom Hashoah event in any way that I could,” says Tommy, “I was really proud that I could participate and learn new things.”

– Tommy Strasser

Supporting Cummings front line workers as we take care of the most vulnerable! On behalf of our seniors, The Cummings Centre and the CJCS Foundation thank all of our generous donors, both for goods (personal protective equipment for front line workers) and much needed funds. Your support is so appreciated as we take care of this vulnerable population. Nataliya Edlin, pictured here, is one of four Cummings staff shopping for vulnerable seniors who are isolated and can’t get out and one our extraordinary homecare workers helping to keep seniors comfortable at home.

–  The Cummings Centre and CJCS Foundation

“As a volunteer for the last 9 years in the Cummings Center cafeteria I would like to express my sincere thanks to the entire staff for the phone calls and concern to all of us in these trying times.  This being the National Volunteer Week I would like to say that I miss my few days a week serving behind the counter, greeting the patrons and the familiar faces, engaging with them in a little friendly conversation.

Volunteering for me is most important in lifting my morale knowing that  I am making a contribution to the community.  This gives me a sense of worth and satisfaction, this is what keeps me happy and energetic in my daily existence.  For this I am forever thankful to  the Cummings Center.

I am hoping and aiming for my 97th birthday soon, if I am worthy, so I hope to keep my pleasant job at the Cummings Center for a long while longer.

Thank you and best wishes to everyone, stay well and safe.”

– Helen Scharf, Volunteer

Doug Roseman, who brings his career experience in the Tech field, has been volunteering at Cummings for 5 years. “During this challenging time of stay-at-home isolation, it is more important than ever to help people use available technology to connect with family and friends and to resources like the Cummings Virtual Learning Library.

– Doug Roseman

“I have been playing the Virtual Learning Exercise videos to keep up with my workouts. Now, after playing the Adapted Fitness team’s video for the third time, I’m getting the hang of it! It’s getting easier- the warm up exercises, the three minutes intervals, the stretching and even the jogging on the spot! I feel more energized and it helps my daily walk.”

– Barbara Harbert, Adapted fitness & Virtual Learning member