An Act of Kindness I’ll Never Forget
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An Act of Kindness I’ll Never Forget

Four Atlantans recall the people who helped them when they needed it most.

Chana Shapiro is an educator, writer, editor and illustrator whose work has appeared in journals, newspapers and magazines. She is a regular contributor to the AJT.

Jeff Weener
I had a stroke almost a year and a half ago, and everything in my life changed. Of course, my wife, Barbara, and our many friends and neighbors wanted to help, and wonderful people reached out to me along the way.

I’m especially grateful to two individuals, Carrie Budd and Judy Robkin. Carrie and Judy got me on the road toward redefining and reclaiming myself.

Jeff Weener’s friends pitched in with PT and illustrated cooking measurement cards after his stroke.

I started physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy three weeks after the stroke. Carrie Budd, who is an old friend, works in OT at Emory. For five months, she voluntarily came to our house twice a week to work with me. She and two other therapists connected me to the VA, where I got into important studies, and today I participate in new studies there, as well. Another friend, the artist Judy Robkin, used her talent and ingenuity to create cooking cards for me, which visually translate measurements so that I could cook and bake, skills I love to share.

At first, I couldn’t speak, read, write, manage any of my tech devices or even brush my teeth. I was unable to communicate. I was diagnosed with aphasia, but it took me 6 months to understand what that meant and how it connected to me. I still carry a card, “I Have Aphasia,” to explain why I sometimes can’t make myself clear. I was able to work with the specialty staff at Camp Ramah this summer, and since this August, I’m back at work half-time. I don’t know about driving, but I’ve already learned to navigate every back street and alternate route in the city on my bike. I’m still challenged, but I’m stubborn — in a positive way — and I work hard to improve.

Miriam Karpel
I was born in Cuba, went to the “Centro Israelita de Cuba,” came to the U.S. in 1961 and married a “Jewban.” We moved from N.Y. to Miami in 1975, then to L.A. in 1997, and my daughter Shari and her husband, Marc, followed us. But in 2012, I followed them to Atlanta, because I had recently asked for a divorce. I was an interior designer in Miami and L.A., but I couldn’t find any work in Atlanta.

Miriam Karpel became independent because of an unexpected job offer.

Then I got a call from Joel Salinas, who I had surprisingly recently connected with. He told me about his wife’s co-worker, who needed a nanny, and he recommended me. I was interested! As a result, I started a career as a nanny and entered a new chapter of my life. I became an independent woman. After several years as a nanny in a few households, word got around of my experience with children and I was offered a job in the Beth Jacob preschool. I feel very blessed with 8 amazing grandchildren, and also to be called Morah Miriam every day. I will forever be grateful to Joel Salinas, who opened a door into the world where I am today.

Dee Bloch
After retiring from a California environmental law practice, and after much deliberation, my mother and I decided to relocate to Atlanta. We chose Atlanta to be nearer mishpocha living in South Carolina and the dearest of friends in Alabama.

Dee Bloch’s relatives offered crucial respite during a difficult time.

It was a 19-degree January morning in 2005 when we arrived in Atlanta, two days ahead of our moving van! After settling in, our adventure began with weekend trips alternating between Alabama and South Carolina. During one of those Alabama adventures, we discovered that a niece and nephew of Mom’s second husband were living in Villa Rica, Ga. Gena was a middle school teacher and

Wade managed a famous-brand tractor company, both very busy, stressful positions that didn’t allow for much “down time.”

In the summer of 2006, Mom developed a hacking cough; over several months, she was prescribed a variety of antibiotics. Finally, around Thanksgiving 2006, Mom was diagnosed with lung cancer and started chemo. After learning of Mom’s condition, and during her chemo, Gena and Wade made a couple of trips to Atlanta to visit. When Mom’s condition was diagnosed as terminal, she required 24/7 care. I would often hire nurses to sit with her while I shopped for food and medicines. My life was “on” 24/7, catching a nap here and there.

Gena and Wade visited on the weekends for a couple of hours. On one of those visits, recognizing my level of exhaustion, and in spite of their very busy lives and schedules, they decided to drive from Villa Rica to Atlanta three afternoons a week and on weekends, to give me a break to do the shopping and get some rest — an enormous and unsolicited favor I will never forget. My mother, of blessed memory, passed away on the morning of March 7, 2007.

Barbara Weener is grateful to the parents of her son’s best friend.

Barbara Weener
Ezra, our youngest, was the third of our children to attend and graduate from Yeshiva Atlanta. The youngest in his grade, he didn’t drive until late in his senior year. This created challenges because my husband, Jeff, and I worked full-time and were frequently out of town on business. That meant we weren’t around consistently to drive Ezra home from school or to and from basketball games.

While at Yeshiva, he became close friends with Chad Shapiro and became a part of Chad’s family. Tracey and Anthony Shapiro became Ezra’s second parents; they welcomed him into their home and treated Ezra as their own. They hosted him several nights a week, drove him to school and to games, brought him lunch and even dressed him.

At Ezra’s graduation, I thanked both of them for all they did to raise Ezra. It is said that it takes a village to raise a child. The Shapiros were a significant part of our village, a family to whom I will always be grateful.

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