New head of Federation Homes learns to seize the moment
By Eli Freund
Some things in life are simply “bashert,” as the Yiddish phrase goes – chance encounters and opportunities that are just too good to pass by.
Such is the case with Jonathan Reiner, who came on board as director of Federation Homes in Bloomfield in December 2012.
“I always planned on going into a career in social services, in which I could help and work with people,” Reiner told the Ledger recently.
Reiner, who grew up in South Windsor, describes that community as “small and tight-knit” – the kind of small community that is often a breeding ground for future Jewish leaders. Reiner set off on his future path by attending the University of Connecticut, where he received his Masters degree in social work. However, not everything went according to plan. Originally, Reiner planned on working with children, but his plans soon changed and life took him in a very different direction.
In 1996, Reiner took his first executive level position in a Jewish agency when he became assistant director of the Jewish Federation Association of Connecticut. There he learned how to write grants and handle a budget. He eventually moved on to serve for several years as chief operating officer and assistant executive director for the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven as the chief operation officer.
A chance encounter brought him back to the Hartford area. While attending a closing event sponsored by the Agency on Aging in at the State Capitol in Hartford, Reiner bumped into a long-time board member of Bloomfield’s Federation Homes. During the course of conversation, the board member mentioned that the current executive director was retiring. Soon, Reiner was on board at the Bloomfield agency.
Reiner is well aware of the responsibilities that loom large with his new position – and he is already formulating plans to approach them with gusto..
“I’d like to see Federation Homes offer more programs that residents want, such as tai-chi,” he notes. “We’re also exploring the possibility of bringing in some more exercise and cultural classes. On the operations side, we’re exploring ways to provide easier access to social services and to bring in a newer and larger generator and do some renovations in the apartments.”
Reiner, who likes new experiences and whose main passion is traveling to exotic places, hopes to bring his out-of-the-box way of thinking to Federation Home day to day operation. Meanwhile, however, he is taking the time to adapt to the ebb and flow of the Homes.
And, he appreciates that he has come full circle. He is back in the area that he grew up in and where his journey to help the community began.