The Crowd: Gala helps fund the needs of Jewish seniors in O.C.

There was a time in America when families took care of their elderly parents and other relations, no questions asked. It was expected. It was a given.

Aging parents were not routinely exported to assisted living homes. They moved in with their adult children when necessary. This was especially true for strong ethnic and religious cultures.

In contemporary Southern California society, the family unit has a very different dimension. Generations are independent of one another to a greater degree. People are consumed with work, climbing the career ladder, while juggling duties as parents. Homes are not always easily adapted to multiple generations.

Recently, though, some things have shifted. Millennials are not leaving home since jobs are not offering wages affording independence. And in some areas, builders are constructing multi-generational housing.

Such changes are not widespread, however. In the O.C., elderly residents without family to rely on and without substantial funds often face looming crisis.

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Fortunately for some, there is help. In the Jewish community of Orange County is a residence for seniors called Heritage Pointe. It cares for some 225 people, offering comprehensive life-enriching services beyond shelter and sustenance. Social, cultural, religious and educational activities as well as all forms of healthcare options are made available to residents, underwritten by private donations of more than $1.5 million annually.

Recently, organizers produced the 27th annual Heritage Pointe gala at Newport's Island Hotel, attracting 400 donors opening their hearts and wallets to fund the needs of Jewish seniors in the O.C.

The holiday party was created around the presentation of a lifetime achievement award to prominent Newport residents Leslie and Scott Seigel. For over a decade, the Seigels have been committed to the mission of Heritage Pointe and its Jewish tradition of honoring mothers and fathers.

"The Seigels embody the very best of what giving back to your community truly means," said Mike Silverman, chief executive of Heritage Pointe.

The couple, married for 31 years, are owners of California Closets. They were surrounded by close friends and fellow community leaders at the event.

"I have followed my father's footsteps trying to serve the community as he did," Scott Seigel said. "Leslie and I know that it's up to our generation to support our Jewish family — none more important than Heritage Pointe."

Donors joining the generational pledge of support included national radio host Dennis Prager; respected architect Brion Jeannette and his wife, Bonnie; prominent Newport residents Jodi Greenbaum, chairman of the Heritage Pointe board, and husband Martin Greenbaum; Heritage Pointe founders Meryl Shrimmer and Loretta Modelevsky; Fred and Aviva Forster; Pamela Davis; Beth Slavin; Bernie and Joan Rome; and Steven and Sandy Fainbarg.

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B.W. COOK is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.

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