WEST HARTFORD – Ruthan Wein, director of Volunteer Resources at Hebrew HealthCare, announced plans to retire at the end of 2015 after 20 years of service.
A native of Westchester, N.Y., Wein came to Greater Hartford in 1979 and soon became involved with the Auxiliary of Hebrew HealthCare, working to revitalize the group’s Strawberry Festival. She also volunteered with Hebrew HealthCare’s Adult Day Center. Wein became president of the Auxiliary in 1985.
After working with the elderly population at Federation Homes in Bloomfield, Wein joined the staff of Hebrew Health Care as director of Volunteer Resources in 1996. She was tasked with expanding the scope of programs for the organization, which included developing programs that would bring children into the facility.
Toward that end, in 1998, Wein developed a program that partnered second graders at Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Hartford with residents for a series of events that ran throughout the course of the year. The ongoing program aims to deepen the children’s understanding of what it means to grow old, as well as improve the way in which seniors experience the aging process.
In addition, in 2000, Wein launched Hebrew Health Care’s Summer Youth Program that attracts children of all ages, as well as children with special needs, who each August organize host an annual book sale whose proceeds help fund services or needed equipment for the residents of Hebrew HealthCare.
“Teaching kids about aging is so important, not just for their interactions with people in nursing homes, but for their own parents’ and grandparents’ aging,” says Wein. “When they come here, they learn how to be resourceful and find meaningful activities with our residents.”
Among the many innovative programs Wein introduced over the course of her tenure is the popular Christmas Day Mitzvah program, which invites community members who don’t celebrate the holiday to take over the tasks of non-licensed staff, allowing the workers to spend the day with their families. Launched in 2000, today the program boasts approximately 125 volunteers.
“My dream was to build a program that was about more than delivering flowers and mail,” notes Wein. “Today, volunteers are visible throughout the entire building, not just for programs but participating in care plans to hold hands and reminisce and share a laugh.”