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Father Knows JCHE Best

In honor of Father’s Day, we sat down with Coleman House resident Phil and his son David to get a better sense of how JCHE’s affordable housing, programs, and services impact their family's lives.

Coleman House resident Phil and his son David

“After mom passed away four years ago, my father became depressed,” remembers David, whose 96-year-old father Phil moved into Coleman House thirteen years ago.

The change in Phil’s behavior was abrupt and dramatic. They had been married for 71 years. She was his rock. His soul mate. Before she passed, Phil was full of energy, eager to participate in Coleman’s many programs and activities. But after his beloved’s passing, Phil withdrew, became lethargic, and stopped participating.

As you can imagine, it was a heart-wrenching period for Phil and his family. The Coleman staff, fully aware of the terrible havoc isolation wreaks on our mental and physical health, relentlessly committed to ensuring that Phil got active again. Working with his family, they used every motivational trick in the book to revive the “old” Phil. They refused to let him slip into isolation, making plans as if his life depended on it—because, quite frankly, it did.  

Ultimately, their tireless efforts paid off.  

Today, Phil is as active as ever. He runs Coleman’s movie night committee, makes popcorn for his fellow residents every day, serves on the tenant council, and is active in the local veterans’ group. He’s also a fan of our "Generations Together" program, playing games and participating in discussions with Brandeis students. Phil has also been a pen pal with Boston elementary school students.

And, last May, Phil was one of several residents to become Bar Mitzvah during a deeply moving ceremony at Coleman House. Working with JCHE's Rabbinic intern, Phil and five other residents studied religious laws, customs, and practices, and renewed their commitment to the Torah and Mitzvot. They made their own prayer shawls, attended Friday night Shabbat services, and designed their own Kiddush cups.

“The people who run this place are excellent,” says Phil. 

“When JCHE has a new program that they need volunteers for, Phil is the first stop, because he never says no,” adds David. “They take care of business, period. JCHE is amazing. Nothing short of amazing.”

Thank you, Phil and David, for sharing your heartwarming story, and Happy Father’s Day from all of us at JCHE!