Blue. White. Gold. Glitter. Sparkle.
It doesn’t look like a dining hall; it looks like a wonderland.
Blue lights and crepe paper are strung from the walls. Snowflakes as delicate as tissue hang from the ceiling, twisting, turning. The tables wear blue and white, and even the artwork is festive—the frames are gift-wrapped, tied up with ribbon.
The date? December 10. The occasion? Hooverwood’s annual Hanukkah Guild Luncheon.
The luncheon honors the Guild, a group of hundreds of volunteers who have a “Heart for Hooverwood.” The volunteers work in the gift shop, the beauty shop, and the library. They assist with holiday celebrations, monthly birthday parties, lunch outings, and Sunday Socials. They fundraise, attend board meetings, and tend to Hooverwood’s mailing list. They visit with long-time residents and present welcome gifts to new residents.
They donate time and resources, but they also share love, warmth, kindness, and friendship. The Guild helps make Hooverwood vibrant. It helps make Hooverwood a home.
Back in the dining hall, executive director Marc Penner stands behind the podium and leans toward the microphone. “We gather today, on a day that doesn’t look like December. Normally, there’s a snowstorm.”
There’s assent, laughter. Because, in complete contrast to the dining hall’s decor, the weather outside is sunny and warm.
Marc continues. “Thank you for coming. The Hooverwood family and the residents want to thank the Hooverwood Guild for all that you do. Thank you.”
There’s nodding, applause. The Guild listens to Marc as he expresses the intense gratitude that everyone has for their work, their companionship. Marc mentions the Capital Campaign as well, and draws attention to the work being done on the roof.
“Phase 1 is happening,” he says. “And Phase 2 will begin this spring.”
More applause, louder this time.
There’s plenty of applause for Elaine Zukerman, too, the Guild’s Volunteer of the Year. Guild president Saraan Warner and speaker Rosalie Gussow also recognize and thank the executive members of the Guild, former presidents of the Guild, and the harpist—who had been plucking “What a Wonderful World” and “Winter Wonderland.”
And then, it’s time for lunch. There’s pasta and salad, side dishes and dessert—cheesecake. It doesn’t take long for it to disappear. For those with an insatiable sweet tooth, there are Hanukkah-themed Hershey’s Kisses scattered around the centerpieces.
After the meal come the Hooverwood Singers. They are the entertainment for this year’s luncheon, just as they were last year. After they take their places and open their binders, they begin with “Hatikva,” Israel’s national anthem. Jewish folk songs such as “Hava Nagila” follow, as do a number of tunes from Fiddler on the Roof. The performance concludes with a duet by Patty Wood and her daughter Jackie.
Afterward, there are hugs, “Happy Hanukkahs,” bits of conversation.
Thank you. Dedication. Community. Wonderful.
Words. They echo throughout the dining hall, causing the snowflakes to spin and twirl once more.
Then, the dining hall empties. But it’s not really over. Not when—weeks later—glitter still will be found on jackets and shirts and shoes. A reminder, really, a happy reminder that Hooverwood is ever-grateful for the Guild.