Seashore Gardens Living Center
22 West Jimmie Leeds Road
Galloway, NJ 08205
Volunteers are the "heart" of Seashore Gardens Living Center
By Felicia L. Niven
There’s something special that happens when you walk through the doors of The Simon & Sylvia Zisman Seashore Gardens Living Center (SGLC) in Galloway Twp.—and it’s not only due to the immaculate surroundings, the competent and dedicated staff, or even the Boardwalk Café and mural of old time Atlantic City. It’s the number of warm and caring volunteers that you’ll find onsite on any given day. Some come with a furry friend or a guitar; others simply bring a listening ear or a warm embrace. All, however, bring a desire to make a difference.
“As a nonprofit organization, Seashore Gardens Living Center welcomes volunteers to help us with our mission to enrich elder lives,” said President and CEO Martin H. Klein, MA, LNHA, CALA. “It’s very meaningful when volunteers take time to visit with our residents, help out with recreational activities and take them for strolls.”
SGLC is a 24-hour, 7 day-a-week Home for the Aged, necessitating a number of staff for round-the-clock care. The volunteers interface with the staff, providing additional companionship and assistance.
Barbara Gutjahr visits with her dog, Spike, on alternate Mondays. “He’s very good with the residents,” says Barbara proudly. “He will sit and let them pet him for as long as they’d like.” As for Barbara, the visits are good for her soul, too. “Both my parents have passed,” she explained. “My mother was always the one who encouraged volunteerism. In this way, I’m honoring her memory and also helping others. It just feels good.”
Seashore Gardens Living Center is guided by Jewish tradition, so it may seem surprising that one of their most active volunteer days is Christmas. For more than 20 years, the Lowell & Bella Gluck Holiday Day of Service has brought people of all faiths and ages to SGLC to fill various positions from receptionist to food service, maintenance, and recreation. Volunteers are guided by staff, and are onsite from 7 AM to 7 PM.
“It’s become a beloved tradition for many of our volunteers, and often whole families will come to participate,” said Executive Director Janice Cambron, LNHA, CALA. “We typically have as many as 35 volunteers onsite, which allows some of our staff members to take off for the holiday.”
Janice worked with Director of Recreation Missy Rundio to create another opportunity to encourage volunteerism: the Summer Sizzler Youth Program. The Sizzlers are SGLC’s youngest employees, aged 14-16, who both work and volunteer their time. For many, it’s their first job. They gain valuable work experience and learn what makes a good work ethic. Because they work an hour, and volunteer an hour, it’s also a wonderful opportunity for Sizzlers to learn the importance of giving back. The teens have a chance to forge real relationships with the residents, to chat with them and exchange stories. Judging from the number of Sizzlers who choose to return, it’s a great success.
A volunteer board of directors oversees the operations of this nonprofit home, which provides a family of services. The 125,000-square foot senior Living Center offers assisted living, short and long term nursing care, Alzheimer’s care, respite care and full rehabilitation services all under one roof. In 2016, SGLC celebrated 100 years of enriching elder lives.
“It was important for us to create a home-like environment.” said Martin Klein. “We wanted it be family-friendly to encourage visitors to spend time here. We created a Disney-like atmosphere that includes a Boardwalk and café where visitors can dine with residents, a wheelchair-accessible putting green, and rooms for family gatherings.”
Visitors are welcome to tour the Home, have a cup of coffee or a muffin on the Boardwalk, and see the numerous opportunities for volunteering. As a nonprofit organization, SGLC also welcomes financial donations, especially sustaining monthly commitments. Donations fund the programs that enrich elder lives—music and music therapy, cooking and baking, computers, art therapy, pet therapy, the Alzheimer’s Sensory Trail and Garden, and the Summer Sizzlers Youth Program. Visit www.seashoregardens.org to see how you can help.