“They Are Our Heroes” is a fitting motto for Hatzalah, well known as the volunteer group that provides first-response medical and ambulance service. They are certainly appreciated at the Nautilus Hotel in Atlantic Beach, a senior community with many residents in their 80s and 90s. “Sometimes it amazes me how quickly they get here. They obviously drop everything they are doing to get to the problem . . . four or five guys at a time,” said Karen Marano, activities director at the Nautilus. “They are a very dedicated bunch of individuals and their service is invaluable here.”
Shira Friedman, executive director of the Nautilus, added, “Hatzalah has literally saved many of our residents’ lives. Our residents and family members are always shocked to hear that this is totally voluntary and that these men are purely working for the sake of doing a mitzvah.”
Each year, the management of the Nautilus gives a generous donation to Hatzalah during the fundraising drive, which culminates at the annual Hatzalah barbecue dinner. “This year, we decided to get the people living here more involved in the fundraising process,” Marano said. “We set goals and used the dining room to launch a Jerry Lewis-like event. The residents and visiting family members really enjoyed it and responded by waving money and checks in the air. It was actually pretty incredible.”
The Nautilus staff used a thermometer poster to measure the money raised each day during the five-day drive. The residents were excited about what they were doing and came up with some wonderful ideas to help the red line on the thermometer go higher. Pearl Dubow, who lives at the Nautilus with her husband, Cantor Avram Dubow, decided to help increase the total by donating her winnings from activities. The Nautilus gives nickels for winning bingo and blackjack, and Pearl said, “Give my bingo money to Hatzalah.” It got to be everyone’s mantra–“Hatzalah, Hatzalah”–every time someone won nickels. The nickels added up to about $40.
That $40, along with the donations from residents and some family members, allowed the fundraising total to surpass the goal of $1,000. The residents were excited to present the money and a ceremonial oversized check to Michoel Mandel, a Hatzalah member who has an uncle living at the Nautilus and who, along with his brother, has been involved in many emergency calls.
All in all, it turned out to be a positive and uplifting experience directed to a great cause. “We are happy to have raised more than we had expected and we’ll just have to make a higher goal next year,” said Dottie Stern, who has lived at the Nautilus for several years. The residents, management, and staff of the Nautilus Hotel would like to thank Hatzalah for their time, dedication, and mesirus nefesh on behalf of the community. v