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“It Was Our Night”

With a record-breaking $1.5 million raised at the annual Heart and Soul Gala on April 6th, we asked one of the Honorees, Aviva Saad, to talk about her experience. Aviva is the Program Coordinator for our Balboa Avenue Older Adult Center, which provides meals, activities, and a caring community for older adults living with Alzheimer’s and related forms of dementia.

In true Aviva fashion, she gushed about the evening with incredible enthusiasm.

“After the speeches, people came to me and said how impressed and touched they were by the work we do. One server from the Hyatt told me that at one point in her life she had been homeless. And then after seeing everything that JFS does, she said she wanted to volunteer for us and get her teenage kids involved too. She wanted to make sure they learned how important it is to give back.”

A common sentiment among attendees was pure astonishment at the breadth of services JFS provides. Aviva commented that many young people told her they never knew about the Older Adult Center and wanted to volunteer their time as soon as they possibly could.

But for some gala attendees, Aviva’s work at the Center had been a core part of their lives for quite some time.

“The daughter of one of my clients who passed away came that night and was crying from the moment she arrived. She flew all the way from Arizona to be there. She was so moved and so touched, and so thankful as she remembered how much her mother enjoyed the Center.”

We asked Aviva how it made her feel to be surrounded by friends and family as her hard work was recognized.

“It was very humbling. I have been crying the whole weekend! To have people coming to me and hugging me and telling me how much I meant to them, that was the biggest gift of the Gala. For my children to see the work I do and not just as their mom, for them to be proud of me…”

She had to pause as the tears came again.

“For them to see what I did and be proud, that meant everything to me.”

Aviva made sure to emphasize the teamwork it takes to provide the top-notch care each client receives at the Center. To make sure everyone was included, she reserved an entire table for the staff and volunteers who might not normally attend the Gala.

“It was amazing to spend the night with the people who make the program what it is. They felt so proud and happy to be a part of JFS and the Center. It’s so important to share that night with the people who make it happen. It was not just my night, it was their night – it was our night.”

Thank you, Aviva, for being such a huge inspiration to JFS and the entire San Diego community!

Watch Aviva’s Honoree presentation at the Gala

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