Sandra Slavin is the new Administrator at the Sherman House, a HUD apartment building for the Well Elderly on Limited Income. It is a three-story, 56 apartment building in West Ashley with many Jewish residents. Through an active tenant organization and standing committees, the residents participate in activities to socialize and assist each other. Judy Hinman, Senior Outreach Coordinator for Charleston Jewish Family Services, works with the staff of the Sherman House to provide additional programs and services.
Keep reading to learn more about Sandra's important work, which benefits our local older senior population.
Tell us about yourself. Where are you from? I am originally from Philadelphia but have lived in many places in the United States and 2 years in China. I have had a lengthy career in Healthcare Administration and most recently retired from working in hospice. It was the opportunity to make a difference as Administrator at the Sherman House that prompted me to return to work after being retired.
What brought you to Charleston? My husband, 2 daughters and I moved here from Sarasota, Florida around 10 years ago. We chose Charleston after spending a weekend here. It reminded us of San Francisco where we lived for many years prior to moving to China. We were attracted by the food, architecture, hospitality, and cultural opportunities, not much different than most who choose to move here.
What are your main roles and responsibilities at the Sherman House? As the new Administrator at the Sherman House, am responsible for maintaining the 56 unit building, helping the Residents on a day to day basis, and making sure the building stays in compliance with HUD regulations. Much of what I do is trying to make a difference every day for my Residents. Some do not drive and isolation and difficulty getting to medical appointments etc. can be a daily challenge. Finances are a daily struggle and many are unable to pay for basic necessities and needed medical care. As our residents age, the objective is to support them in the aging process and and provide them a safe, affordable, independent housing situation that is caring, ethical, and respects the dignity of the individual.
Is there a moment you are most proud of in the work that you do? Interacting and caring for my Residents is the highlight of my day and what I am most proud of. Our newly started Friday afternoon Kiddush for our Jewish residents has brought me a strong sense of accomplishment. I have watched residents come together, light the candles, say the blessings over wine and bread, and enjoy talking about Shabbos memories when they were younger. Residents who never religiously celebrated Friday night Kiddush before, find a sense of belonging and have expressed how much it means to them to celebrate Shabbat. One of my residents who is 92, stands proudly every Friday afternoon and recites the blessing in Hebrew over the bread. He told me that it brings back memories of his bar mitzvah. For several Jewish Russian residents, they never could celebrate Shabbat when they were in Russia and celebrate the freedom to do so here in the USA and especially here at their home at the Sherman House. Celebrating alone in their apartments is not the same as doing it as a Jewish community and has brought significant meaning to them. Now, we are opening it up to other Jewish seniors who want the same feeling of belonging as the Sherman House residents have experienced.
What are your impressions of the Charleston Jewish community? I have been very impressed with the philanthropic nature of the Charleston Jewish community. On a monthly basis, private donations pay for rental of a van so my residents can go to Walmart shopping or out to a local restaurant. The Charleston Jewish Federation has been awesome by bringing the Food bank to the Sherman house twice a month, helping to cover the cost of Friday afternoon Kiddush, covering Meals on Wheels for a few residents, etc. Whenever I attend an event at a local synagogue or a community event, I am always impressed with how engaged and interested the members of the Jewish community are in helping others in need and staying educated on Judaism and what is happening around the country and world. The number of learning opportunities and welcoming spirit of our Jewish community makes Charleston a wonderful place to celebrate and stay connected.
What is something that we don't already know about you but should? I am the author of a book, Postcards From China. It chronicles the day to day experiences of my family when we lived in China. It started as emails to our friends at home and blossomed into a book at the urging of friends and their friends and their friends.
How can I get involved? The Sherman House is always looking for Volunteers to assist with activities for residents, donations to support resident programs, and assistance with celebrating Jewish holidays. Call me at 843-763-2242 to join our group of volunteers who are part of our Engage, Connect, and Contribute project.