JF&CS News Winter 2011

When Betty Ann Greenbaum Miller was a teenager, she survived Stage III Hodgkins, a lymphatic system cancer. The intensive year-long radiation and chemotherapy left her weakened and prone to chronic issues. This lifetime of serious medical challenges has deepened her compassion for others and eventually drew her to JF&CS, first as a client and then as an active supporter.

"I personally feel very connected to the kinds of experiences that folks have when they're in difficult times. The opportunity to comfort, listen, and be present with another person in moments of loneliness or distress is profoundly meaningful," she said. "I feel honored to be part of Jewish Healing Connections (JHC) whose mission is just that."

Betty Ann first became involved with the agency as a client in 2001, when she participated in a JHC spiritual support group for caregivers and people living with serious illness. She had found she needed some professional emotional support for managing her daily life in Weston with her husband Dan and their two young sons, Adam and Matthew.

"Almost everybody bumps into moments that are unbearable, but there are some of us who live in those times more often than not.

"That supportive experience was profoundly important to me at the time. Through it I learned about Jewish Healing Connections and I met Marjie Sokoll, director of Jewish Life and Healing," she said.

Betty Ann was so impressed and moved by the program's mission that after the support group ended she, along with three other people from the group, became members of its first advisory council in 2002. "We transitioned from folks who came to be helped to folks who could be creators of the next wave of supportive activities," she said.

"I feel responsible, given who I am, to maintain an awareness that there are many who don't have support systems, loved ones, resources, or community or don't think they do. I want to be one of the voices through Jewish Healing Connections who says ‘don't forget them, help support them,'" said Betty Ann. "I have always found great joy in human relationships, especially in times of need. I know that is why I'm passionate about Jewish Healing Connections and JF&CS."

Over the years, despite her physical challenges, Betty Ann has applied her skill at fundraising and cultivating relationships to raise awareness and increase the involvement of those who have an interest in helping people in the Jewish community dealing with the challenges of illness, loss, and isolation.

Marjie said, "Betty Ann has been an invaluable member of the advisory council and has taught me so much through her willingness to share the challenges of living with a serious illness. I feel grateful to have had her support all these years. She is such a compassionate person and has been an incredible ambassador for the program."

Betty Ann has experienced many memorable moments since she began supporting Jewish Healing Connections. She recalls one at a Seder for elders in the Friendly Visitor Program. She and Dan were seated at a table with Harry Flamenbaum z"l, a vibrant and charming 95-year-old Holocaust survivor. "We had a fantastic conversation as we shared a meal with him. We were struck by the fact that we thought we were going to do a mitzvah, but he gave to us. Jewish Healing Connections creates opportunities for simple and meaningful connections like that."

Betty Ann has decided to develop her gift for compassionate care by becoming a professional chaplain through Hebrew Senior Life's Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), a program she was drawn to because it is the only Jewish geriatric CPE program in the country. She would like to continue to help people who are "facing trauma and crisis in the course of daily living, where I might make a difference." Thanks to her work with Jewish Healing Connections, she already is.

For more information, call 781-647-JFCS (5327) or email your questions via our contact us page.