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East County Wednesday, Jul. 7, 2010 7 years ago

Benderson brightens retirement community

by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

SARASOTA COUNTY — For nearly 25 years, the Manatee Jewish Housing Council has provided quality care and housing for local senior citizens.

And now, thanks to a gift from East County-based commercial developer Nathan Benderson, founder of Benderson Development, the organization’s mission to aid seniors is more permanently etched into the future.

Benderson and his family donated the organization’s most philanthropic investment to date — $3 million. The gift follows a previous $750,000 donation.

“He has forever changed our world,” said Manya Paru, director the Jewish Housing Council Foundation. “We will be able to create an identity. We know what we do here is special and excellent and he has provided us with a way to tell the world about it.”

The money will be invested, and the interest from it will help cover the medical costs of residents who cannot afford the entirety of their healthcare and stay, among other programs, and help fund the council’s independent and assisted living community on Honore Avenue, Paru said.

“(Two) of the founding principles of this campus were that no resident would ever have to leave our campus due to some sort of financial (restraint) and the other was that we would provide the optimum in health care, and we would raise money to bridge that gap,” Paru said.

Benderson’s donation, she said, will help the foundation accomplish both of those goals.

In Benderson’s honor, the council on July 1 announced it had changed the name of its campus to Benderson Village. Additionally, the skilled nursing and rehabilitation center under construction also will bear Benderson’s name.

Since the Manatee Jewish Housing Council opened its first senior living facility, Kobernick House, off Honore Avenue in 1987, the organization has provided care to hundreds of seniors, providing them with a sense of home rather than a sense of institutionalization.

Walls covered in color and artwork bring the walls of the facilities to life, while the furnishings offer a luxurious look and feeling one normally sees in a high-end hotel. Kobernick House and its companion facility, the Anchin Pavilion, are part of a vision cast by the Jewish Housing Council nearly 30 years ago.

Kobernick House is a four-story facility that offers nearly 200 rental apartments for senior citizens who enjoy an active lifestyle. On campus, there’s a salon, a bistro, a heated pool, a wellness clinic and other amenities for residents. The facility even boasts the only accredited library in a senior retirement community nationwide, Paru said.

Anchin Pavilion, which provides assisted living services for seniors, including care for alzheimer’s patients, has much the same feel, with aviaries and other amenities on each floor.

The third floor currently is being renovated and converted into the Benderson Family Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. Benderson’s initial $750,000 proved the lead gift for the project, which Paru said is essential for giving the residents of Benderson Village a true continuum of care as they age. Before, residents would have to be sent to other facilities if their health needs became to great.

“Without skilled services on campus, we were in violation of our own principle,” Paru said.

The new floor will offer rooms with wide doorways to accommodate hospital beds and a kitchen/dining area that is open so residents can take in the smells of food cooking and benefit from a stimulated appetite. The council will be able to implement its own hospice program in addition to the skilled nursing services provided on that floor, as well.

And once the floor opens, the council plans to get a third therapy dog for the building. Cali, one of the two beloved therapy dogs that reside in Anchin, was brought to the facility from Honor Sanctuary at the orders of Benderson himself.

Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].

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