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“When there’s a Will, there’s a Way”: Spacious New HamaspikCare Borough Park Satellite Office Officially Opens

January 21, 2016

By Mendy Hecht, Hamaspik Gazette

 

Additional Downstate Offices to Expand Local Community Access, Services

On Wednesday, January 6, with dozens of staff in attendance, HamaspikCare’s Brooklyn-based downstate regional offices officially dedicated its newest local community office complex.  The spacious and state-of-the-art office center is located at 4013 15th Avenue in the heart of the Borough Park neighborhood. 

HamaspikCare’s downstate office serves all five boroughs of New York City and beyond.  Headquartered at 295 Division Ave. in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, which remains its central regional address, HamaspikCare of Downstate also maintains a small satellite office on the premises of Hamaspik’s Borough Park complex.

That small satellite office has now grown and relocated within Borough Park.

Instead of serving the local community from on-site desks and areas on the premises of Hamaspik of Kings County’s Borough Park offices on 14th Avenue, HamaspikCare’s Borough Park station will now serve the public out of its own standalone offices.

From concept to completion, the transition from on-site to independent office took an impressive and rapidly-moving seven weeks, and the new satellite facility now serves as yet another milestone marking Hamaspik’s 13th year of providing home care services to the community.

But considering the ethos of hard work and “getting it done” that drives HamaspikCare—and, indeed, the entire Hamaspik—it was almost expected.

Grounds to grow

If there’s one thing about all services, supports and divisions of Hamaspik that stays the same, it’s that nothing ever stays the same—and in the best of ways.

Work at Hamaspik long enough, as this writer has, and you’ll notice that Hamaspik is always building, hiring, and growing.

That mechanism was very much in evidence in the months running up to the decision by HamaspikCare Downstate Director Mordechai Wolhendler to ask for an independent office.

A growing list of satisfied community members were being served with their every home care need. Personal care aides (PCAs), home health aides (HHAs), registered nurses (RNs) and every stripe of therapist were going out to visit seniors and others in their homes to provide superlative care.  As word kept getting out on the street and more people called in for services for loved ones (or themselves), HamaspikCare downstate had to take on more staff—scheduling coordinators and other office staff and, of course, care professionals like PCAs, HHAs, RNs and so on.

And HamaspikCare’s office areas at 4102 14th Ave. in Borough Park found themselves increasingly running out of room.

From basement to beehive

Sometime in October, HamaspikCare Downstate, under Mr. Wolhendler’s capable leadership, took the first steps to expand.

Feelers were put out.  Calls to real-estate professionals were made.  Prospective sites were located and visited.  And a final location, on Borough Park’s central 15th Avenue commercial/residential strip, was ultimately selected.

A contractor was brought in to renovate and overhaul an ordinary space, transforming a drab Brooklyn basement into a surprisingly contemporary workplace that struck this editor as looking more like an upscale art gallery or restaurant than an office.

Furniture including desks, computers and phone systems (all professionally installed and tweaked by Hamaspik techie extraordinaire Aaron Rubinstein), file cabinets and cafeteria equipment (no office is complete without that coffee machine!) were put in place.

By early December 2015, HamaspikCare Administrator Asher Katz was already talking about a Kevias Mezuzah, a mezuzah-mounting ceremony in which the traditional sacred scrolls would be placed per Jewish law on the new center’s doorways—thus formally and symbolically establishing the official opening of the new offices for business.

In early January, that dream became a reality.

Facts on the grounds

HamaspikCare’s dozen or so office-based employees, from Mr. Wolhendler on down, had already been informally working out of the new center for about two weeks when the agency finally celebrated the formal inauguration of its new independent Borough Park office.

Instead of being crammed into an existing location, where they were the welcome long-term guests of Hamaspik of Kings County, HamaspikCare’s Borough Park staff now had a brand-new place of their own.

Around the 1:00 p.m. official starting time on Wednesday, Jan. 6, HamaspikCare and Hamaspik staff from Brooklyn, upstate Rockland County and as far north as Orange County’s Kiryas Joel descended upon the new location for an afternoon of celebration, inspiration and reinvigoration.

A catered buffet lunch on well-set round tables filled the center’s spacious conference room.  Groups of employees from Hamaspik of Kings, Orange and Rockland Counties, including respective Executive Directors Joel Freund, Moses Wertheimer and Meyer Wertheimer (who is also the energetic founder of Hamaspik), were seen chatting and catching up with other members of the family that is the greater Hamaspik staff body.

Also present was Mr. Katz, as well as Yoel Bernath, a Hamaspik stalwart and HamaspikCare’s first administrator who now heads up the agency’s Hamaspik Choice managed long-term care (MLTC) plan.

Mr. Wolhendler gave the Hamaspik Gazette a quick tour of the center.

Newly-laid shallow front steps lead gently down to the basement entrance, where a stylish white brick façade marks a contemporary reception area fitted out with comfortable chairs, relaxing lighting and a potted plant. 

To the right is a receptionist’s elongated window and service counter, beyond which several workstations line the wall of a spacious open work area.  These are HamaspikCare’s local coordinators, who work their phones and computers each day (and often, evening) ensuring that the agency’s hundreds of beneficiaries are getting the care at home they need, when they need it.

Further down the floor past those desks is Mr. Wolhendler’s new office, where the Gazette later snaps a few photos of the man in action, at least on the phone.

Back in the front lobby, where Meyer Wertheimer was seen chatting with Mr. Wolhendler’s proud father, himself a noted community activist, the Gazette was shown the office’s left flank by Mr. Wolhendler.

The aforementioned conference room lies to the direct left of the lobby; it is furnished with a giant and technology-ready monitor for live teleconferences and the not-infrequent staff trainings and recertifications that HamaspikCare regularly gives its staff.  There’s also, as mentioned, a fully-appointed cafeteria counter in the rear of the room.

Beyond that, occupying the rear left of the floor plan, are cubicles for additional coordinators and other HamaspikCare service staff. Affable HamaspikCare bookkeeper Yossi Podrigal, who’s rarely if ever seen without a smile, also keeps a desk here; the new center allows him to commute his formerly daily commute to Rockland County, as he lives in Borough Park.

What’s more, an elegant permanent outdoor entrance shelter will soon be covering the outdoor entrance staircase leading down to the front door, giving visitors a sense of the office’s prominence and presence.

Putting up (with) growth

The ceremony began with Mr. Wolhendler honoring agency founder Wertheimer with the installation of the first mezuzah, marking Mr. Wertheimer’s opening doors of services for thousands over the decades (not to mention doors of employment for thousands more) by bestowing on him the honor of symbolically establishing HamaspikCare’s newest front door.

With a modern electric screwdriver in one hand and the ancient mezuzah in its weatherproof plastic case in the other, Mr. Wertheimer brought together the old and the new, a community’s age-old values of genuine caring furthered by the latest tools of technology.

Staff gathered around to observe the mezuzah being affixed to the door, then reciprocated Mr. Wertheimer’s “mazel tov!” wishes to staff for crossing a blessed new threshold.

Mr. Wolhendler, hands filled with mezuzos and accompanied by Administrator Katz and Director of Business Development Mordechai (“Marty”) Follman, next made his rounds of the office’s doorways, honoring various agency leaders and staff members with ceremonial mezuzah mountings.

These included Hamaspik Choice leader Bernath, Executives Moses Wertheimer and Joel Freund, HamaspikCare’s Downstate outreach director Ben Kolman, Orange County Outreach Specialist Joel Nojovitz and bookkeeper Yossi Podrigal.

Hamaspik of Kings County Director of Development Naftali Tessler was also recognized by being honored with the putting up of a mezuzah. (Most doorways get one.)  Naturally, Messrs. Katz and Wolhendler were also honored with mezuzah installations of their own.

A will and a way

With mezuzos securely in place throughout the facility, celebrants sat down to do lunch.

Some 20 minutes later, Hamaspik founder and Hamaspik of Rockland County Executive Director Meyer Wertheimer rose to share a few heartfelt remarks.  Mr. Wertheimer first thanked all the guests from coming from near and far to celebrate yet another new chapter in Hamaspik history—a history marked by the agency’s parlaying of its deep community grassroots and unparalleled cultural familiarity into a comprehensive and ever-expanding non-profit agency that speaks the community’s language.

“When there’s a will, there’s a way,” Mr. Wertheimer declared, proudly praising the hardworking downstate staff for their relentless push to make the new office a reality.

HamaspikCare Administrator Katz next spoke, dwelling briefly on the now-completed project’s history from initial germ to final product.  After acknowledging several staff members and their devotion, Mr. Katz singled out Wolhendler for a special thank-you, highlighting his “one hundred percent involvement” in the entire effort from start to finish.

Mr. Wolhendler was then surprised with a gift—a sizable decorative vase for his own home, a gesture not just to himself but to his own family, too, in appreciation for the endless late nights and early mornings hard at work away from home.

Wolhendler was then asked to share a few words.

The Downstate Director first personally thanked several key employees for their vital contributions.  He mentioned Mr. Tessler for his overall involvement, recently-hired Office/Maintenance Manager Yehoshua Waldman for hitting the ground running (and then taking off in a blur!), Family Care Liaison/IT Manager Moses Maleh for his assistance, and computer whiz Rubinstein for being “on the job all the time.”

Drawing inspiration from his own past experiences explaining what a mezuzah is to someone unfamiliar with Jewish laws and customs, Mr. Wolhendler touched upon the spiritual message of the mezuzah, and expanded that to HamaspikCare’s greater mission and the work that it does.

Mr. Wolhendler also quickly reviewed HamaspikCare’s downstate history, recalling how the licensed home-care services agency (LHCSA)—which opened over five years ago in upstate Rockland County—had initially put a desk in a corner of the NYSHA Clinic to serve as its new satellite base from which to reach out to the entire Big Apple.

Just a few short years later, HamaspikCare of the downstate region is a force to be reckoned with, both throughout Brooklyn and beyond.

The Downstate Director also thanked HR Director Kolman for his constant assistance to HamaspikCare patients, and likewise acknowledged Mr. Podrigal for keeping the inner gears and pulleys turning.

Groundwork for the next stage

With remarks concluded and most guests out the door and back to the remainder of their workdays, the HamaspikCare staff of the new office, which had enjoyed an hours-long break during the inaugural luncheon, marched back in and took up positions at their desks as if nothing had happened.  Even Mr. Rubinstein, Hamaspik’s upstate computer technician and a guest at the proceedings, was seen at the front desk’s computer, intently ironing out some last-minute glitch.

In the work area just outside Mr. Wolhendler’s office, as well as in the open space on the floor’s other side, are several empty desks.   

Room for expansion, the Downstate Director explains.