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Jewish Journal

Walking the Walk for Heritage Pointe

by Andrea Adelson

May 6, 2004 | 8:00 pm

Setting a contemporary example for the ancient value of "l'dor v'dor" (from generation to generation), supporters of Heritage Pointe will walk through Irvine May 31 in a communitywide 5K walk to raise money for the county's only Jewish retirement home.

"My goal is to help keep this worthy residence in great shape so that senior members of our community won't go uncared for in their time of need," said Samantha Markowitz, 12, of Villa Park. Three of her great-grandparents, all now deceased, were among the earliest residents of the 14-year-old facility in Mission Viejo.

Markowitz, among 40 or so early registrants, is organizing a team to participate in the walk, called "Generation Celebration," as her mitzvah project. She set an ambitious $10,000 goal and asked for help in a letter to congregants of Santa Ana's Temple Beth Sholom. Her grandfather promised to match every dollar she raises.

"It's the community involvement that makes [Heritage Pointe] different from a for-profit," said Meryl Schrimmer, of Laguna Beach, the home's co-founder and the walk's organizer. "If you don't have a resident there or aren't a volunteer, you wouldn't know about it," she said. But throughout the year, hundreds of children and adults volunteer at Heritage Pointe, enlivening the environment of more than 120 residents, many of them housebound, with programs and visits.

"Some people think it's enough to pay the rent, but we want them to be involved," Schrimmer said. For example, Markowitz's grandparents, Jacquee and Mel Lipson, of Newport Beach, will assist with event registration. Ten years ago, their entire family hit the streets during the first Heritage Pointe walk, including baby Samantha in a stroller.

Proceeds from the walk will go toward $700,000 expended annually for residential scholarships, providing varying levels of financial aid for about a quarter of residents. Funds will also help re-equip an underused recreation room into a planned wellness center. About $30,000 in specialized exercise equipment is needed. "It's designed for people trying to regain strength as well as equipment that would meet the needs of those maintaining fitness," Schrimmer pointed out.

Some Heritage Pointe residents will participate, such as the 100-year-old grand marshal Rose Horvitz, who lived in Laguna Woods for 20 years before relocating in 2000. She and her caregiver will ride in a convertible, leading the procession from Irvine's Tarbut V'Torah Community Day School. Schrimmer is hoping for 500 people.

Warm-up events begin at 8 a.m. Walkers, strollers and wheelchairs will complete a circuitous five kilometers after setting out down Federation Way toward Shady Canyon Road and then reversing the route.

"It's not a timed race," said Schrimmer, who has set suggested fundraising minimums of $200 for families, $1,000 for 10-person teams and $50 for a senior and a child. Teams could be organized by a school, a family, a synagogue or a havurah.

To aid supporters in soliciting funds and involve younger adults, Schrimmer is relying on a Web site to ease registration and encourage competition (www.generationcelebration.kintera.org). The site allows entrants to seek donations through e-mail, create a personalized Web page and permits online contributions by credit card. Donors receive an instant "thank you" and a tax-deductible receipt.

"It makes it easy for busy people who don't have hours to spend on the phone," Schrimmer said.

Virtual walkers who seek donations are welcome, too, she said.

While the walk may lack a timekeeper, the Web site keeps score nonetheless with a dollar tally of pledge leaders. Individuals and teams can post both fundraising goals and results. Checks, too, eventually are reflected in results, Schrimmer said.

Early on, Markovitz' team, "Juniors for Seniors" was trailing among four rival teams, and Victor Klein was leading as the top individual solicitor.

Teams or event volunteers are still welcome and should contact Bonnie Gillman at (714) 838-9797.

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