In the Making an Impact series, clients and services are featured to expand awareness of the wide array of help available at JFS and to ensure donors understand the lives they touch and the difference they make throughout the community. Client names have been changed to protect their confidentiality.
LEAP (Life Enrichment Action Program) services enhance and enrich the lives of seniors dealing with low mood and depression. The program is based on the idea of spending time doing something that brings enjoyment and redirects focus to more pleasurable thoughts and activities.
LEAP has impacted hundreds of seniors. Here are just a few of their stories.
Alla is a Russian-speaking client whose husband died seven years ago after 10 years of illness. She never left his side and hints at several traumatic things she witnessed while with her husband in the ICU. Alla is very intelligent and speaks good English. She is isolated and often sad.
Her desire to attend college computer and English classes were identified when she entered LEAP. Her case manager was able to work with her insurance provider to approve non-medical transportation. She enjoys socializing and practicing her English with the young people at the college, and attending class and completing homework helps redirect her focus.
Yuliya, a Russian-speaking client, returned home from Ukraine very distressed about her granddaughter and grandson-in-law who still lived there. She identified her pleasurable activity as a jewelry making class. LEAP found a class, purchased the required tools, and provided transportation and an interpreter for Yuliya.
Bill scored very high on the depression screening conducted during one of his care management visits. His case manager referred Bill to LEAP.
The program therapist learned that he used to have four greenhouses on his property. Growing a variety of plants was something he enjoyed throughout his life, and he continued to garden in the small garden area of his apartment building until getting up and down became too difficult.
The therapist suggested container gardening on his balcony. Bill perked up a bit and said, “I want to grow tomatoes.” By the time the therapist returned with a small tomato plant, Bill had planted 17 pots on his balcony and had rigged up pieces of wood to serve as a small greenhouse. Turns out Bill was a mechanical engineer who designed very complicated engineering projects for the government. The ability to use old skills and return to something he once enjoyed, even in a modified way, brought pleasure to Bill.
LEAP is a free program through Jewish Family Service of St. Paul that supports adults 55+ who are suffering from low mood or depression. LEAP is partially funded by MAAA and Live Well grants.