Have you ever met someone and just liked them right away. Something clicks and you feel their kindness? Then you meet their parents and you go… aha.. now I get it! Then you meet their extended family and you think, how can an entire family be so kind, so approachable and so strong in their value system?
It’s that old apple/tree proverb that talks about generational values. It’s not, “do as I say and not as I do”. It’s “do as I do”, without actually saying those words. Because as children, we watch, we listen and somehow we become what we know.
This Episode introduces you to a family that just does it right.
It began 15 years ago, when Ellen received a call from a young girl named, Ali Goodbaum. Ali called to ask if she could come over on Sundays to spend some time with Jacob. That one hour a week, grew to two hours a week, and then to the entire day. A friendship that sparked between Ali and Jake, led Ellen’s family to become very close with Ali’s entire family and inspired a life long bond. Dr. Ali spoke via recorded message, as she was doing her rounds at NYGH.
Ali shared that she always felt her best when helping others. For five years, she spent every Sunday with Jake. The two built a special relationship, which inspired Ali to continue working with others with different abilities and special needs, leading her to pursue a helping profession. After her father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, Ali met incredible doctors and was determined to follow this career path; dedicating her life to helping others, through the pursuit of medicine. Now, as a Resident at NYGH, Ali finds it to be a very rewarding experience. She shared two vital lessons learned: the first, is to follow your passion. The second, is that what you do early in life, matters, as those experiences will stick with you and help shape who you are.
They certainly did for Ali!
Our next guest was Michael Kalles, President of Harvey Kalles Real Estate, and a leader in our community. When it comes to family values and respecting generations, Michael exemplifies this virtue. Michael spoke about the guiding lights in his family, who taught him lessons in empathy, philanthropy and giving back.
Then Michael both acknowledged and paid homage to many of his own family members. He described his Uncle Albert as the most giving and devoted family member. He shared that many years ago, once learning the news of Michael’s birth upon his arrival in Israel, Uncle Albert turned straight around and came directly home, proving his commitment to his extended family. Ever since, Michael has always had a special relationship with his uncle, which was further solidified in recent years, when Michael joined his Uncle Albert on the adult March of the Living.
Michael’s advice for young people, is that when you’re down, help others. It will make the biggest difference in your life. He certainly learned from his elders and is leading by example for his own children.
Next, we met the infamous Uncle Albert Sliwin and his granddaughter Ashley. Ellen shared a story about Uncle Albert.
For years Ellen’s family ran a charity called, Jacob’s Ladder. Each year they had a fundraising event called Jake’s Gigantic Give. They would fill an empty massive space with toys, all donated by Spinmaster Toys, Mastermind Toys, and the Canadian Group. The only thing was, you couldn’t purchase a toy there. Families came and packaged gifts for children in need, thousands of gifts for thousands of children. Uncle Albert owned an empty store and he loaned Ellen that space for free, for an entire month to set up for this weekend-long event. When Ellen thanked him over and over again, Uncle Albert’s response was – no Ellen, thank YOU, for allowing me the opportunity to give.
As a child, Uncle Albert was bullied in a way no child, no person, should ever be exposed to. The worst bullying of all, as he lived through the atrocities of the Holocaust. Yet, Albert remains one of the kindest and most genuine human beings out there.
Uncle Albert shared many stories from the past that made him who he is today He spoke about his family upbringing and provided many wise words. He said, “giving is a privilege. If you give for rewards, it’s not a gift. You need to give from your heart and not expect anything in return.” He spoke about the importance of helping others any way you can, so they can stand on their own. He also was taught to ensure that you leave your children a good name and always be on the giving side. Albert tries to live by these rules.
When asked to give his advice, Uncle Albert said “forgiving is the best medicine. It makes you not hate and makes you a better person. Be thankful for what you have and don’t be selfish. If you live in the past, you have no future.” Thank you Uncle Albert, for your sage wisdom and giving heart.
We learned that Ashley and her grandfather are now taking their story to local schools through a program called, Carrying Testimony from Generation to Generation. It is a series of videos and discussions that share her grandfather’s Holocaust story and are presented to students in Grades 6-8.
Next up, we heard from the very talented Halle Burnett who is steadily releasing stunning songs on all music streams. Halle performed one of her beautiful originals called, ‘Pretend’.
We closed with final words from Lindsay at One2Giveto, who reiterated the need for dignity and basic needs for those in our community. St Micheal’s Church, located at Bathurst and St Clair runs an ‘Out of the Cold’ Program. While other supporting networks in the area remain closed due to COVID, the need at St. Michael’s Church has grown, with only 50% of their meals being sponsored. Volunteers are also needed for preparing and/or serving a meal. The process takes a few hours on Sundays. It could make for a truly meaningful holiday activity. In lieu of a big holiday party this year, it could be a great option for a company to do and something local businesses should consider as a way of giving back to their community.
As we have learned, giving back and helping others, always feels good.
Thank you to this wonderful family who have shown us the true spirit of this type of kindness and generosity throughout the generations.