New Programming for Seniors is Coming

By Sandy Newman, JCC 
Myra Saturen, JFS
and JFLV Staff

Senior support services in the Lehigh Valley will get a boost in the coming months thanks to new hires at the Jewish Community Center and Jewish Family Service. The expansion of the Jewish Senior Life Connection program answers the call of the Jewish Community Strategic Plan to cater to a growing senior population. By providing needed services like transportation and social opportunities, Jewish Senior Life Connection allows seniors to continue to live healthy, active lives and enjoy the rich resources the Lehigh Valley has to offer.

JCC Welcomes Melissa Hakim

Melissa Feltingoff Hakim, M.D., has joined the JCC as senior services coordinator. 

Hakim moved to Allentown when she was in elementary school and spent much time at the JCC while growing up. She remained actively involved, most recently as a group exercise instructor for the past five years – her kickboxing class runs four times per week. 

A graduate of Emmaus High School, Brandeis University and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Hakim brings her years of experience and wealth of knowledge to this new venture at the J. Her husband Dr. Harvey Hakim is actively involved in the JCC’s Sports and Wellness Committee, and their three children Ben, Hannah and Max are also products of the JCC environment. It’s quite fitting that Hakim’s next adventure keeps her close to home where her heart is, at the J. 

Hakim said she is excited about the opportunity to engage older adults in social, recreational and cultural programs and events at the JCC and in the greater Lehigh Valley. She will reach beyond the JCC to expand existing programs and develop offerings to actively involve seniors in the areas of lifelong learning and intellectual stimulation in social settings with events, speakers, lessons and clubs. 

Creating a Jewish senior life network at the JCC and on the road will help to involve seniors in the next stage of entertainment and learning. She will work with the existing Friendship Circle as the staff liaison as well as create programs and collaborate with other Jewish and general community organizations. 

Hakim brings extensive program planning and leadership to this new position and the staff looks forward to supporting her efforts in this important role. While senior services is a new initiative and programs are in the planning stages, ideas in the works include a: book discussion, knitting circle, walking club, art class, lunch program, exercise class, movie matinee, current events group and the hosting of Shabbat dinners. The JCC looks forward to enhancing its role in serving senior adults and working closely with the Jewish Federation’s Senior Services Task Force.

Funding for this position is made possible by the Sylvia Perkin Perpetual Charitable Trust and the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley.

If you have an idea or a suggestion, Melissa Hakim will be happy to hear from you. She may be reached at 610-435-3571 or

JFS Welcomes Carol Wilson 

Carol Wilson has joined the Jewish Family Service staff as the JFS facilities coordinator through the Jewish Senior Life Connection program. Wilson meets with and develops relationships with key administrators at senior care communities that have Jewish residents and with Lehigh Valley Jewish clergy to provide relevant, rich and meaningful programs of Jewish interest to residents. She involves residents in deciding the subjects of the programs. 

Wilson also educates staff at care facilities about Jewish holidays, religion and culture to enhance their sensitivity to Jewish residents. 

A native of Pittsburgh, Wilson earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Goucher College and a master’s degree in social work from the University of Pittsburgh. She did medical social work in the Endocrinology Department at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh, where she worked with families and groups, started a summer camp and helped medical residents understand the psychosocial aspects of patients’ illnesses. 

Wilson is active in the Jewish community and serves as president of the Women’s Division of the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley. During the 17 years she has lived in the Lehigh Valley, she also served on the executive committee and as the chair of the membership committee at Temple Beth El, and has served on the executive committee and board of the Jewish Day School. 

Wilson’s husband, Dr. Bob Wilson, is a physician who specializes in pain management. The Wilsons have two children, Ben, 14, and Rebecca, 10. 

Wilson is excited about her work at JFS. “I love our community and am happy to play a role in implementing and enriching programs at senior care communities,” she said. “This is an exciting time to be part of JFS as it expands its outreach efforts to Jewish seniors in a meaningful way.”

To reach Carol Wilson or learn more about upcoming activities, call 610-821-8722.


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