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Independent Living

Offering adults with developmental disabilities a place of their own, Mandel House provides an independent, community-based, group living environment that meets their unique needs and helps them remain active in Jewish life.  Special attention is paid to assisting residents with activities of daily living, socialization and good nutrition.
By coordinating with community programs and resources, the staff enables residents to expand their possibilities and work toward their goals.  The program also ensures that Jewish individuals with special needs can remain active in Jewish life, participate in cultural events and celebrate Jewish holidays.
Orange County Jewish Life caught up with Lauren Gavshon, Ph.D., of Jewish Federation & Family Services to talk about the Mandel House.

How did the Mandel House come about?  The merger of Jewish Federation and Jewish Family Service into Jewish Federation & Family Services merged the resources and brought people together to make this happen.  We’ve been looking into doing this for several years.  There is a tremendous need for this kind of housing, which will continue as the baby boomers age.

Bonnie Curkin of Bubbe & Zayde’s Place sold one of her homes to us.  It was named the Mandel House for the parents of Rich and Andi Mandel and Toni (Mandel) and Terry McDonald, who were instrumental in funding the project.  Rabbi Rick Steinberg and Mel Lipson were incredible influences in moving the project forward.  We hope this will be the first of several homes.

Who will be living there?  There will be a capacity of six adults with special needs.  The house will be for people with mild developmental disabilities who need support with their daily routines.  Most of the residents will have jobs or be at sheltered workshops during the day.  The house will be staffed 24/7 with non-live-in staff who are awake at night.  There will be supervision all day.

How is it funded?  It is funded through the Regional Center of Orange County and donations.  This is the first Jewish residential program for the developmentally disabled in Orange County.  There is no direct cost to the families.  Board and care are paid by the Regional Center of Orange County.  This is an incredible community collaborative project.  People have donated everything.  It has been an incredible outpouring of support.

As a Jewish program, what amenities will residents have?  Residents will get to participate in Jewish programming like Shabbat dinners and Jewish holidays brought to them by community partners who will be bringing Jewish traditions into the home and taking the residents to the community.  There will be transportation to activities, such as menorah lightings, events at synagogues, Shabbat services, seders and other activities and events that people do during holidays.  There will be family programs to make the home feel like their home.  Family members will be able to participate, visit or join the residents for dinner, or the residents can go visit the families.

What is being done now?  The house is being completely remodeled, but we’ve kept pieces that are part of the history of the home.  Now we’re doing landscaping and creating a sustainable vegetable and herb garden that will be incorporated in meals.  YLD and the Moishe House are helping with that.

When will it open?  We still need the community’s help to complete the construction of the home.  People can donate on the Mandel House web page (see below).  People can click on it to support construction and programming.  Then there has to be a screening process to determine who will live in the house.

How can the community get involved once the Mandel House is open?  Community members can help with activities.  They can be craft projects, cooking projects, gardening projects and others.  People can bring the projects in or take the residents somewhere else.  The Jeremiah Society is going to help with social programming and with recommending applicants for residency.

How great do you feel about this?  In the past people have had to send their children out of state for this kind of program.  Now, thanks to a real community effort, we can have it here.  It’s going to be an incredibly impactful program.
People can find out more or make donations by calling (949) 453-3460 or clicking on familyservicesoc.org/services/jewish-life/jewish-residential-home.

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