At JCHE's 2017 Gala, four residents shared their stories, shining a light on how critical affordable, supportive housing is to the well-being of seniors. This is Phyllis's story.
Phyllis Chmara fondly remembers her first day at Golda Meir House.
“A woman walked up to me and said, ‘You look like you’re new here -- how about sitting with us?’”
“That’s the kind of people who live here—they’re fantastic,” says Phyllis. “I find it difficult to find anything that I don’t love.”
One of four children of Russian immigrants, Phyllis, a Dorchester native, started a career as a bookkeeper after graduating high school at sixteen. And she wouldn’t retire until she turned 86 last year!
“I was really the office controller, and I loved it.”
Having lost her husband Saul when he was just 59, Phyllis is no stranger to overcoming grief, and her resilient spirit would once again be tested at age 80, when she was diagnosed with stomach cancer, a disease she would heroically go on to beat.
Living in Florida at the time, she realized that she needed to be closer to family, and so in May 2016, Phyllis retired and moved into Golda Meir House to be near her two daughters and five grandchildren.
Energetic and gregarious, Phyllis is an active member of Golda’s vibrant community: she plays Bingo, Canasta, and enjoys movie night.
And Phyllis’s work ethic hasn’t diminished in retirement: she volunteers every Monday and Friday at Golda’s front desk. “They ask me to come in at 8:30 a.m., but I usually get there fifteen minutes early. I want to help JCHE in any way I can.”