Even before COVID-19, the paramount focus for Shalom and Shalom II’s Executive Director Bonnie Sekeres was the health and safety of each and every Shalom Apartment resident. Now, as Rhode Islanders experience the 10th month of mask-wearing, travel and visiting restrictions, the focus on health and safety remains ever more meaningful for Susan Bazar, who succeeded Bonnie as Executive Director in July 2020.
“My overriding focus is to concentrate on tenants’ safety and health; that’s a continuation of Bonnie’s over-arching philosophy,” said Susan. “Certainly, with COVID-19, those concerns are front-and-center every day here.” To date, none of the 10 employees at Shalom Apartments have tested positive for COVID-19. Nor have we received notification of any COVID-19 cases amongst tenants.
JCS Kesher worker, Shana Prohofsky, developed a COVID-19 resource packet that tenants received in November. Not only does it include information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Rhode Island Department of Health about appropriate mask-wearing and mask removal, handwashing, safe social distancing, it also includes a list of essential community resources and guidance for those who need assistance getting groceries or prescriptions delivered, etc.
Susan’s breadth and depth of experience serves her well in her new position. Not only was she a longtime volunteer, board member and board president of Jewish Seniors Agency (JSA), she became JSA’s interim Executive Director and later Executive Director. As part of the team who helped achieve the merger of Jewish Seniors Agency (JSA) and Jewish Family Service (JFS) into Jewish Collaborative Services (JCS), Susan was a dedicated steward representing JSA’s interests in the complex and detailed merger discussions. Of her role as JCS’ Chief of Strategy and Administration, Susan said, “Part of my charge was to assist in oversight of the Warwick campus, so it was a natural transition from that role to stepping in as Executive Director, once Bonnie retired.” Noting Bonnie’s 41 years of service to Shalom Apartments, Susan added, “She was superb in all areas of operation, finance, etc. She was an incredible force.”
Although COVID-19 has shut down the computer room, the craft class, Bingo and other events, Susan hopes that she can reinstate them and other offerings – such as a speakers’ bureau and even more cultural and arts-related programs –once it’s again safe to gather communally. Although the dining room was shut down in mid-March and remains closed, meals for tenants who continue to participate in Shalom’s mealsite are packaged and delivered outside the tenants’ doors. Facilities management staff work diligently to keep elevator buttons, door handles, etc., germ-free and have left only essential lobby seating, as a reminder to the tenants to avoid group gatherings.
“This is a pristine complex and the residents are proud of where they live, and the staff are invested in the residents here,” said Susan. “It’s an honor to serve the residents, many of whom have welcomed me with open arms, and the staff want to make sure tenants have a good quality of life here.” Clearly, Shalom Apartments are desirable; there is up to a one-year waiting list for one-bedroom apartments.
For more information about Shalom Apartments, contact Terrie DeSimone at 401.738.4414
For the COVID-19 resource packet for tenants click here.