Eliana Tabak, a junior at Nicolet High School, has visited the elderly since the sixth grade through her synagogue and school. So it’s no surprise she would co-lead a teen advisory board that brings her peers together with residents at Ovation Jewish Home and Ovation Chai Point senior living.
“I think they are so interesting and they have a lot of stories to tell,” said Eliana, who represents Teen Ovation as a co-president. “It’s just great to be able to spend time with people that really want you to be there.”
One of the them is Allen Koren, a 68-year-old resident of Ovation Chai Point. The retired loading dock worker says that interacting with the teens “makes me feel young again. It’s been good.”
In April, 2022, the Association of Jewish Aging Services national conference recognized Teen Ovation as an innovative program that enhances the spiritual well-being of older adults. Teen Ovation took home the AJAS Jewish Programming Award.
Tanya Mazor-Posner, vice president of development for the Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation, said the one-year-old program builds teen leadership and career skills while fostering relationships with other teens and with seniors.
“High school teens are looking for ways to build their character and resume for college while doing something good and this is truly special,” Mazor-Posner said. “Young people in Teen Ovation gain leadership experience, connect with seniors, get involved in fundraising and make new friends.”
Mazor-Posner describes Teen Ovation as “a diverse, multi-faith group dedicated to intergenerational programming.” She adds that the diversity mirrors the resident population at Ovation communities, as not all are Jewish. “We want to have area teens from all parts of our community.”
Teen Ovation helped with the isolation of the pandemic by keeping in touch with residents and delivering gift packages. More recently, the teens have moved away from Zoom activities and started planning monthly in-person events. Among them are the icebreaker game, “20 questions,” and movie discussion night featuring “When Harry Met Sally.”
“For me, I just like hearing different stories and perspectives,” said Co-President Maddie Weber, a 2022 graduate of Homestead High School who enrolled in New York University in the fall. “These people have experienced so many interesting things.
The advisory board has 15 participants, including another co-president, Joey Arnstein, who will be a freshman in the fall at Nicolet High School. They meet weekly.
“It’s been great,” Eliana said. “I love to be able to plan things and I think it’s really important that I have some say in what we’re doing because it means that I really get to be as involved as possible with these events. I also love recruiting friends to help me with things.”
Teen Ovation is growing through social media and word-of-mouth, Mazor-Posner said.
Teen Ovation is funded by a grant from the Gene and Ruth Posner Foundation of the Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation in support of Ovation Communities.
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Teens of all faiths and backgrounds are encouraged to apply online to serve on the Teen Ovation Board at: