What is it about Hadassah that resonates with you?
Where to start? There is nothing more powerful than a group of women out to make the world a better place. The sisterhood and friendships formed while doing it are invaluable. I come from a long line of women that have been at the forefront of a variety of grassroots movements. Their strength and determination have filled my heart and given me strength to overcome personal and professional hurdles. It is a powerful message. As a nurse, I can say I am part a historical group that helped Israel become a state by focusing on the health of a population and giving a homeland to my people.
How did you get involved with Hadassah?
I was raised in Miami in the early 1960s by strong women. My grandmother, Anne Masarek, was a daughter of immigrants. She was so proud of this country and her European roots. During that time there were many issues Jews had to face, even in Miami. There were still restricted places. She taught me that we all have rights. As Jews, we could not ignore when others' rights were taken away. We need to help others less fortunate that didn’t have the same blessings we did. She introduced me to Hadassah in preschool. We attended many Hadassah functions and even annual fashion shows to raise money for a variety of Hadassah and Jewish issues. As a young girl, I became a regular model at the events.
As I grew up, I used my voice and skills for a variety of humanitarian issues, from health care, mental health parity, and many Jewish issues. A month didn’t go by where I didn’t attend an event from walk-a-thons to tag sales. Every event reinforced my need to help others.
As an adult, I continued with advocacy, promoting stem cell research, identifying Jewish genetic diseases, and health care for all. This was fueled by having a special child with cystic fibrosis. Through my activities, I met Diane Berman, who was very active in our Hadassah Chapter in Gainesville, FL. She shared with me the great work that Hadassah had continued to do over the decades and how their work had expanded across the globe. The projects aligned with my current advocacy work, and I was reconnected with the talented group of women healing the word. My heart is now full of Hadassah blood again. I even was president for a term.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a wife to the most patient man in the world, Gary, for almost forty years. He almost never says “no” when I ask him to schelp things for an event, support me throughout school, or be a great dad and grandfather. We have two amazing children.
Ashley is 34, a cystic fibrosis survivor and double lung transplant recipient. Her struggles remind me of what is needed for those with chronic illness. Her husband, Jonathan, has joined our advocacy. As a family, we have been active in the CF community for finding a cure, healthcare access for all, stem cell research, organ transplant issues, and transitioning to adult health care, to name a few.
Lung transplantation has given Ashley and Jonathan a long life together, and they are sharing their gifts by adopting my three perfect grandchildren. This has expanded our family and mission of advocacy to foster children, children’s mental health issues, and improving the education system.
I also have a son, Dustin, 29, a physical therapy assistant. He is recently engaged to Caitlin who became a nurse with my guidance, and is on her way to becoming a family nurse practitioner. Both share our passion for health care issues and advocacy as well.
I have been a nurse for 23 years after a full career as a recreational therapist. I became a nurse to improve my standing in the medical community with my advocacy as well as have the medical skills to take care of my daughter. Professionally, as a nurse, I have worked in mental health from the cradle to the grave, home care, organ transplant coordination, stem cell transplant coordination, and my passion, education. As a nurse educator, I taught the entry level to nursing students. I enjoyed seeing the “light go on” when my students started to see the whole picture of health and wellness and what a key role the nurse plays in keeping society well. I helped mold them into community advocates for health care’s future. We did a major activity, either public education or fundraising for a health issue every three months, for almost eight years. This lead me to my current position as a nurse educator in the hospital where I help new nurses transition from a novice nurse to expert. One benefit of being in the local hospital is I have seen my novice nurses bloom into “Great Nurses”.
I am active in the Florida Nursing Association and try to attend the Annual State Nurses Advocacy Day. I have worked with Hadassah’s Nurses Council to promote nursing and health-related issues locally, on a national level, and globally. Most of my free time is spent on community projects, but I try to ride my bicycle at least 50 miles a week for my health and sanity. I also like to paint. I am currently painting a mural in the office of the grandkids. I try to spend as much time being a Jewish grandmother to help my grandkids heal from their trauma and carry out our family mission of advocacy while getting as many hugs and kisses as I can.
This April’s project was in conjunction with the Victor Center for Prevention of Jewish Genetic Diseases. We did genetic testing, community education, and offered CEUs. My heart fills with joy when a project is complete and I see the fruits of my labor.
I recently attended an adult cystic fibrosis conference at the University of Florida and found myself crying tears of joy from the seeds I planted over 20 years before. I am anxiously awaiting the cystic fibrosis annual camp, where I get to see adults with CF I have helped navigate the broken healthcare system and who are now becoming parents. I also get a full heart seeing young children with CF look healthy and vibrant with the hopes of a long life due to changes in treatment and medical advances.
As a nurse, what do you find most inspiring about Hadassah’s efforts?
Hadassah’s missions from the first in Palestine to current days are issues women like myself deal with regularly. As a nurse, staying at the forefront of health care is important so we have a seat at the table to move healthcare forward. Hadassah has shown me that through science and support we can make a positive change in the world, or just our corner. It fuels my work locally and gives me the strength from those I stand with. As a nurse advocating for all, Hadassah has shown me the way. Everyone has value and no one is an enemy if they are in need.
I have lost too many friends to breast cancer way to soon. My mother and grandmother died of heart disease at the prime of their lives. Stem cell treatments are hopeful to treat or cure disease. Not to mention the cutting-edge work we do in Israel through Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO). HMO funding helped with improving trauma care, infant mortality, breast cancer survival rates, blindness, neuromuscular disease, organ transplantation, and research in diseases treatments too numerous to mention.
I stand tall with my sisters and the associates to support all Hadassah’s missions here and abroad. I am proud to be a life member and to pass the legacy of this great organization now to my children and grandchildren. It is a great honor to say I am a Hadassah nurse.
Previous Members of the Month
“I am inspired by Hadassah’s efforts to connect healthcare professionals internationally.”
Find out more about Sarah Elgart›
"Rather than just an organization, Hadassah is like family."
Find out more about Sandra Goldman›
Palm Harbor, FL
"I am so moved by all that Hadassah nurses have achieved in Israel in the past 100 years."
Find out more about Sally Laufer›
"I chose Hadassah because its main focus is Israel."
Find out more about Ruth Fein›
Las Vegas, NV
“Board certified pediatrician passionate about Hadassah.”
Find out more about Randi Lampert›
“I owe much to Hadassah, including meeting my husband.”
Find out more about Randi Cohen›
Paula M. Schiff
Walnut Creek, CA
"Along with my wonderful Hadassah members, I have presented three Israel advocacy programs."
Find out more about Paula M. Schiff ›
"Hadassah is an amazing organization!"
Find out more about Marlyn Bradshaw›
"I love being part of a group where I feel a true kinship to the other members."
Find out more about Lori Reszutek›
“I love that Hadassah is this amazing organization for Israel, about Israel, in Israel.”
Find out more about Leslie Gonzalez›
Treasure Island, FL
“I love that Hadassah finds ways for every woman to get involved and get empowered to help others.”
Find out more about Laura Freed›
"I am proudest of the cutting-edge medical research done at Hadassah, including research on treating ALS, cystic fibrosis, heart stents, stem cell therapy and more"
Find out more about Judi Babcock›
“When I hear about new medical advances that have come out of Hadassah, I feel proud to support Hadassah.”
Find out more about Joyce Backman›
“Hadassah supports everything I feel strongly about.”
Find out more about Helene Schilian›
“I grew up witnessing my mother’s deep commitment to Hadassah.”
Find out more about Hannah Cohen›
“A licensed interior designer who is honored to be a part of Hadassah.”
Find out more about Gayle Dorio›
“A prior service military engineer officer inspired by Hadassah.”
Find out more about Erin Coleman›
“For over 30 years, Hadassah has been the constant in my life.”
Find out more about Elise Feldscher›
"Nurses are the heart of Hadassah."
Find out more about Dorothy Lasensky›
"I enjoy being surrounded by bright, creative and talented women who share my passion."
Find out more about Carol Konecky›