LIVINGSTON, NJ – The Jewish Community Housing Corporation of Metropolitan New Jersey (JCHC) recently held its board of trustees annual dinner at Crystal Plaza in Livingston, where Sheila Oliver, lieutenant governor of New Jersey, spoke to about 130 guests, including staff, board members, sponsors and residents about how the West Orange-based nonprofit is “Building Bridges to a Brighter Future.”

The event focused on how JCHC is working to enhance the lives of its residents in its four senior living communities in Essex and Morris counties: South Orange B’nai B’rith Federation House, Village Apartments of the Jewish Federation (South Orange), Jewish Federation Plaza (West Orange) and the Lester Senior Housing Community (Whippany).

Essex County Freeholder Pat Sebold, a Livingston resident whom served on the board with Oliver, introduced the lieutenant governor to the crowd.

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Oliver acknowledged the Jewish community’s commitment to social justice and talked about the important work being done by the JCHC on behalf of older adults. She also addressed the issue of access to more affordable housing for seniors and other populations within New Jersey, and the commitment of Gov. Phil Murphy and his administration to meeting the challenges of affordability in the state.

According to Oliver, the nonprofit sector will play a vital role in filling the gaps in quality, affordable senior citizen housing. She also discussed the importance of the government playing an integral role by working with developers and others.

In addition to her role as lieutenant governor, Oliver is also the commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs and chair of the board of the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency. The latter agency is currently working with JCHC on two projects, she said.

The program, which followed a lavish cocktail reception, also included opening remarks by event co-chair Roberta Zweifler, who introduced Hanover Mayor Ronald Francioli and Deputy Mayor John Ferramosca.

“We are happy to be part of tonight’s event and blessed to have the Lester Senior Housing Community in our township,” said Francioli. “We are working closely with Harold Colton-Max, CEO of the JCHC, to find solutions to meet the needs of our growing senior population.”

The JCHC Choral Group, comprised of residents from Jewish Federation Plaza and Lester Senior Housing Community, performed a selection of songs that emphasized positivity, closing with a medley of sunshine-themed tunes. Oliver praised the choral group for its performance and invited the singers to perform at next year’s Essex County Jewish Heritage Month celebration.

JCHC Board President Brian Saltzman shared the board’s vision of continuing to provide safe, enriching and affordable housing for JCHC residents.

“Every decision the board makes is through the lens of how those decisions will affect our residents,” said Saltzman. “We are committed to more development and expanding our capabilities so we can better respond to the changing needs of our residents as well as seniors in our area.”

Future plans include completely renovating the apartments and properties at Jewish Federation Plaza and South Orange B’nai B’rith Federation House. Last year, 12 luxury units and a multi-purpose community room were added to Village Apartments of the Jewish Federation and common areas were upgraded.

Judith Shulman, chair of the JCHC’s Circle of Life Legacy Team, shared that the organization exceeded its initial pledge goal for after-life gifts, which will help provide services to future generations of residents. Chief executive officer (CEO) Colton-Max then recapped highlights over the last year, shared fundraising updates and thanked the board, sponsors and event co-chairs Cookie Schneiderman and Roberta Zweifler for all their work.

“We continue our work to position the JCHC financially, programmatically and otherwise to meet the needs of our residents now and in the future, providing high-quality housing with services,” said Colton-Max. “Thanks to our generous supporters, we are certainly building bridges to a brighter future for the seniors we serve.”