After suffering a stroke that left her partially immobilized several years ago, Sarah Greenberg considers herself lucky. She recovered somewhat through rehabilitation, but finding a place to live and thrive proved more difficult until she came upon Galilee Pavilion by accident while driving with family members through Levittown.
"I'm glad we did, because I really like it here," says the 87-year-old. "I enjoy the musical entertainment and the computer lessons. It's a nice place."
Greenberg is one of 50 people living at Galilee Pavilion, an apartment complex providing frail, low-income elderly with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development rent subsidies and an array of support services.
Although the Pavilion is nonsectarian, as required by HUD, it offers Jewish residents a welcoming atmosphere. One highlight is the optional kosher meals subsidized by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia's Center for Social Responsibility in keeping with the center's goal of helping seniors to age with dignity and stay connected to Jewish life.
"Many residents grew up in Bucks County or have children nearby," said Sheva Cohen, senior planner with the center, "so they're happy to have the option of living near friends and family in a place with subsidized kosher food and Jewish life."
Located on a 12-acre campus that houses the Galilee Village independent living complex, the Pavilion is not so well-known, even though its Jewish connections run deep. After sponsor Congregation Beth El decided to move to Yardley, its land was bought with the help of HUD grants, and the Pavilion opened in 1996.
Today, residents enjoy continuing support from volunteers from Beth El and Rabbi Jeff Pivo, who host them for Shabbat services.
That support sustains residents spiritually, but it's the kosher meals – prepared in accordance with the Conservative Rabbinical Assembly – that keep them going on a daily basis, according to Galilee Pavilion assistant executive director Marsha Wishnov.
"Our residents appreciate the meals, because there are not many subsidized kosher-meal sites in Bucks County. One very frail resident had been living by herself with no one to check on her and make sure she was eating properly. Now, she's gained weight and comes out for programs – she's a whole different person."
All Pavilion residents must be 62 or older, or disabled, and meet HUD income guidelines. An on-site social worker serves as a liaison with family members, and physicians and nurses visit residents daily in the on-site medical suite. Housekeeping, laundry, transportation and food-shopping services are available, along with a regular schedule of social activities to help residents stay busy and active.
"Our purpose is to keep residents out of nursing homes and state facilities as long as possible, and live in their own apartments with dignity," says Wishnov.
Greenberg's neighbor, Henrietta Katz, is also flourishing at the Pavilion since moving there three years ago.
"It's clean here, and I'm friendly with most people," says Katz, who turns 90 in October. "I'm very happy." For more information, call 215-832-0818.