The Art of Making Crafts at Los Angeles Jewish Health
Los Angeles Jewish Health is renowned for advancing the health of older adults across our community. Its commitment to raising the bar on compassionate, high-quality care includes a dedicated focus on emotional wellness—engaging seniors in creative, stimulating activities that help them find enjoyment in every day. Los Angeles Jewish Health's Arts and Crafts Program is a prime example, bringing people together to give life to new ideas and make memories along the way.
The Arts and Crafts Room is a bustling hub of energy at Los Angeles Jewish Health, offering residents resources, guidance, and camaraderie as they develop their creative talents and produce a wide range of beautiful handcrafts. "It's where we host instructors for oil-based painting classes, and where we teach knitting, quilting, crocheting, and all the various needlecrafts," says Annette Weinberg, Los Angeles Jewish Health's campus lifestyle and enrichment director for Eisenberg Village. "The studio is packed full of every possible supply material for any project a resident would like to do."
Staffed by Arts and Crafts Director Radka Falk, the Arts and Crafts Room enables residents to express themselves while achieving a state of emotional Zen. "Creativity is soothing for the soul, and this is such an uplifting environment," Annette says. "People often spend hours here, and their tasks take them away to a whole other place."
Norma Garber, 89, is one of those people, a lifelong seamstress who trained as a young girl in England to be a high-end dressmaker. She volunteered at Los Angeles Jewish Health before becoming a resident about four and a half years ago and notes that, even then, she knew the Arts and Crafts Room would be where she would spend much of her time once she moved in.
"I like quilting and making pillows, challah covers, and table runners. I love everything I do here; I call it my ‘happy room,'" Norma laughs. "Radka is amazing—there isn't anything she doesn't know how to do. And I get to spend time with my friends, like Casey Joseph, another quilter."
Casey, 89, enjoys the shared sense of purpose the Arts and Crafts Room inspires. "Spending time with Norma is great: It's nice to have someone to talk to who understands what you're trying to do and can help you map it out," she says. "I love the creativity and beauty of using my hands to make something. The idea that one of my quilts is keeping a baby, a child, or an adult cozy, just warms my heart."
In addition to nurturing residents' creative impulse, the Arts and Crafts Room also welcomes visitors interested in viewing—and even purchasing—some of the goods made on the premises. A gallery of canvases painted by residents is on permanent display, and a small, on-site store offers a number of resident-made items for sale.
"The money we make from the shop gets reinvested into the gift shop so we can continue buying supplies for residents to craft with!" Annette says.
Frequenters of the Arts and Crafts Room are often joined by Los Angeles Jewish Health volunteers, who bring a variety of craft projects with them for residents to complete.
"The items you can find in the shop are just gorgeous. But, even more importantly, making those items does absolute wonders for our residents' well-being," Annette says. "When they're here, their spirits soar."