Our Future Residential Home for Special Needs Adults
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A residential home for adults with special needs in tampa bay

Welcome

Tikvah Suncoast, Inc., a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) corporation, based in Florida’s Tampa Bay area, is committed to providing an enhanced residential lifestyle, ongoing learning and personal growth opportunities for adults with special needs, who could not otherwise lead fully independent lives.

Although Tikvah Suncoast was founded on the tenets of Jewish living, Tikvah House will be “Opening Doors to Special Lives” on a non-denominational basis to deserving residents of all faiths.

Tikvah Suncoast is inspired by Jewish teachings which tell us we can all help complete the work of our Creator simply by saving one life at a time.

Read or print our June 2008 news release:

Tikvah Suncoast Launches Major Capital Campaign, Receives IRS Approval as Newest Bay Area Jewish Nonprofit, Acquires New Site for Future Home Project, Architects Hired and Committees in Formation

 

Our Mission

Tikvah Suncoast’s mission is to provide a safe, nurturing home environment (Tikvah House) for deserving adults with special needs whose loving parents will not always be there to care for them.

Tikvah gives these parents the peace of mind they deserve and the assurance their loved ones will be optimally cared for when they are no longer there to personally advocate on their behalf.

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Our Hope

Tikvah means Hope in Hebrew. At Tikvah Suncoast, our abiding hope is for personal growth and enrichment for individuals who need (and deserve) a customized, optimal level of attention and care so they may achieve their highest potential and live a meaningful and productive life.

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Our Special Lives

Tikvah Suncoast will serve a community of deserving individuals who require special attention and exceptional care.

Prospective residents will be screened for their strengths and deficits by professionals, working together to help assure that Tikvah can best meet the diverse needs of its residents.

While a waiting list for residency is anticipated, all applicants and their families are assured of the most equitable and fair manner of screening for their loved ones’ individual level of functionality, anticipated needs, services, and appropriateness within the Tikvah community.

Tikvah will serve individuals who have been diagnosed with a spectrum of disorders, including but not limited to Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome and other development disabilities.

Highly trained and experienced staff members will be on duty around the clock. Our resident-to-staff ratios will ensure quality care and supervision at all times.

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Our Home

Tikvah Future site for Residential Homewill stand as a beautiful, three-story, 10,000-square-foot residence at the southwest corner of 49th Street and Fifth Avenue North in St. Petersburg. The future site, acquired in mid-2008, is centrally located at the intersection of two primary thoroughfares, conveniently accessible to nearby shopping, medical facilities, Jewish facilities, programming, houses of worship of all faiths, as well as recreational activities – from Tampa Bay to the Gulf Beaches – conveniently reached via municipal transit right outside our front door.

Tailored to privacy and personal growth, individual studio/suites will accommodate approximately 20 male and female residents, who will be encouraged to pursue their respective interests and skills and given the opportunity to acquire new ones.

A sense of community, camaraderie and long-term friendship will be fosOur Home to be constructedtered throughout Tikvah. Community areas will provide residents with opportunities to congregate with their fellow housemates, family and friends. Both individuality and group interaction will be encouraged in a comfortable, home-like atmosphere.

Tikvah residents will be active in the community, have job responsibilities and volunteer opportunities, avocations and participate in cultural events (i.e., religious services, entertainment, field trips, concerts and cultural enrichment).

Tikvah has been optimally designed by the Garcia/Freid Corporation, one of Tampa Bay’s foremost architectural firms, headed by Ken Garcia and Larry Freid. The team has devoted their expertise to ensure the creation of an innovative structure, with ideally suited design, layout, facilities and amenities for the residents who will call Tikvah “home.”

Read what Ken Garcia and Larry Freid are saying about about Tikvah.

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Our Team

Beatrice Fischman Mehl - Founder

Our Founder, Beatrice Fischman Mehl, and her late husband, Joseph M. Mehl, in honor Beatrice Fischman Mehl - Founderof Beatrice's parents, Nathan and Miriam Fischman, wish to leave a living legacy of love for family, community and Judaism to those among us who need a helping hand to assure a quality lifestyle, an enriching environment, and personal growth opportunities within our community. Their blessed generosity shall live on for generations to come.

 

 

Ron Yogman - Chair

Our Chair, Ron Yogman, a Tampa Bay resident for nearly a half-century, longtime Jewish community aRon Yogman - Chairctivist and the father of an adult daughter with autism, has never been more energized than when his “faith” and his affinity for the “special needs” community have become one through the reality that is Tikvah. Ron earned a bachelors degree in journalism with honors from Michigan State University and following an initial career with the St. Petersburg Times as reporter/editor, has been self-employed since 1975 in the practice of Public Relations, Advertising, Non-Profit Advocacy and Community Relations.

 

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Raising the Roof

In order to hasten the reality of Tikvah Suncoast, it is vital and imperative that our entire community band together to bestow tangible generosity to assure both the short-term reality and long-term viability that Tikvah shall thrive and survive in order to fulfill its life-affirming mission.

Initial generosity of both donations and longer-term pledges have made it possible for Tikvah Suncoast to acquire, unencumbered, its future “home site.” Now, it is more crucial than ever before that an outpouring of philanthropy from individuals, families, foundations and corporate citizens help not only the next “bricks and mortar” phase . . . but also step forward to adequately endow Tikvah Suncoast, so that it will be eminently prepared to function with solvency, in perpetuity.

Reality does not come without sacrifice and expense. It is projected that $3-million will be needed to build Tikvah, with a similar amount required to assure its sound fiscal future. We humbly, yet passionately, ask that you help us make this dream a reality in our lifetime. God’s work is incomplete, and it is up to each and every one of us to help leave our world a better place than we found it.

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  • A Grandparents Fear
  • Our Hope for Esther
  • A Story of Triumph
  • A Poem for a Daughter

Chris

We would like to introduce you to our grandson, Chris, who is 20 years old and lives with his mother, Lisa and their three dogs in their own home.  Chris' parents are long divorced.  His father lives in New Jersey and no longer has any direct contact with Chris which is a source of unhappiness and anger to him.

We are his maternal grandparents, Janet and Irwin.  Chris is our only grandchild and since he lives close by we have played a very active role in his life.  We are retired educators and helping Chris has been a major focus of our lives for the past 17 years since he moved to Florida. 

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At age 3, in Day Care, it was noticed that he had some problems which became more obvious as he got older.  After considerable trial and error and diagnosis he was finally diagnosed with Autism.  He spent many years on a variety of medications which did more harm than good.  He was also placed in a school for emotionally disturbed children which was the worst possible placement  for a child with Chris' problems but that was before he was diagnosed as Autistic.   Chris was not understood by the other students and the staff who really compounded his problems rather than helping to ameliorate his problems and made him miserable and unpopular in school.  He was the butt of jokes.

When he was diagnosed the school system still refused to accept the diagnosis and release him from the emotionally handicapped program even when we were able to have him transferred to a regular elementary school.   He was still placed in a self-contained classroom against our wishes with no aide even though we had requested one.  His academic and social needs were still not being met.  We even had to retain an attorney to accompany us to an IEP meeting so that we could have Chris mainstreamed into some, but far from all, of his classes. 

We finally were able to obtain a McKay Scholarship and place Chris in a private school where the staff have been much more willing to work with his problems and normalize his environment.  He still has academic problems especially with Math (Dyscalculia) and Pragmatic Speech as well as poor handwriting.  He has poor social and organizational skills and tends to be a loner even though he does have some at school friends. He has always done better with adults than his own age group.

Chris has a great imagination, loves to make up stories and is enthralled by fantasy.  He is a devoted reader of Manga and Japanese Anime.  He loves the hand held RPG's  (role playing games ) and his ambition is to be a video game designer.  He wants to go to college when he graduates in two years.  St. Pete College does have a game design program and does accommodate students with disabilities so we are hoping that Chris will be able to attend that program and take the next steps in his development.

We are both very concerned about Chris' future since we are in our 70's and not in the best of health.  Our daughter is 46 years old and must work very hard to support Chris and herself.  She has been ill lately and Chris worries what will happen to him.  There is no other family support nearby since family lives in New York and England and are not available. 

His mother and we are concerned about what will happen to Chris if we are not here or if she were to become seriously ill.  As a result, the planned Tikvah facility could be the answer to our prayers and the solution to our problem.  We would know that he was safe, healthy and cared for.  That is all we want for him and it would it would be a relief for us to know there was a place for him to go.

Esther

We are blessed to have three wonderful daughters: Esther, Miriam and Sofia! Esther is 20 years old and is our oldest daughter. She is happy, incredibly compassionate and very appreciative.

She was diagnosed with Turner’s syndrome (a genetic disorder) at 15 months. As a toddler, she worked very hard to achieve what normally would be just another expected milestone: sitting, standing, walking and talking. Still today, she continues to work hard to achieve the simple tasks of everyday life.

Esther has been in a special class since first grade and is presently attending high school. She loves going to school and interacting with other people. She is involved with the her best buddies, loves karate, music, concerts, computer and talking to people.

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She only has another two years of school and worries what will happen next. She is very aware of her abilities and limitations. Esther always questions: “When my sisters go to college, where do I go? I also want to be like them but I can’t be by myself!”

Although Esther has some disabilities, she is able to do a lot for the community. She helps at our synagogue as a teacher assistant, takes care of our neighborhood’s pets and is willing to lend a hand to anyone!

We are very proud of Esther for her way of touching lives and also teaching us that each human being deserves dignity and respect, regardless of their capabilities.

As parents, we hope that we can provide her an environment where she can feel that she is just like her sisters: Having her own place, a job and continuing to help the community!

Tikvah is our hope that when we are no longer here Esther will have her own place and be safe in a Jewish environment.

Kandice

Ours is a story of triumph over travail – one of overcoming disappointment, despair and heartache . . . and prevailing through advocacy, perseverance and bittersweet moments and milestones.

Our daughter, Kandice, now 31 years old, was diagnosed with autism as a toddler. It was a jarring blow to our family – facing an uncertain lifetime of coming to grips with a baffling and complex communication/behavior disorder of unknown origin.

Nonetheless, we have spent much of past quarter-century advocating for Kandice sometimes as adversaries – facing the formidable and entrenched medical and educational establishments, often well-meaning but just as often misinformed and short-sighted.

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In retrospect, our family’s undaunted perseverance paid off. Kandice completed High School and is now employed, doing packaging and assembly, and earning a modest paycheck. She is popular with many friends in the workplace and community-at-large. Furthermore, her increasingly quality lifestyle includes volunteering at Hospice, regularly attending bowling, parties, dances, Rays baseball games with her Dad and shopping excursions with her Mom.

Her life is further enriched by occasionally attending Synagogue services. She amazes all who are in awe of her ability to complete 1,000-piece puzzles and challenging word search puzzles. Kandice also enjoys dining out with family and friends and catching live theater performances when visiting her brother in New York.

The early years were filled with anxiety, frustration, setbacks and disappointment – some still too painful to dwell upon. As the reality of a lifetime disability sank in, we were compelled to lower our expectations – no drivers license . . . no college . . . no wedding.

Early on, Kandice advanced from mono-syllable utterances and gestures at first to simple sentences . . . and later to more complex, inquisitive and interactive communication; not to mention the bevy of behavioral quirks we had to work tirelessly to extinguish. Learning to interact appropriately with others was another formidable challenge to surmount.

Kandice’s happy, smiling and affectionate demeanor has made it all worthwhile and life’s blessing. She has impacted and enriched our lives far in excess of anything we could have ever envisioned. Ninety-five percent of the time she is a pure joy to be with … as for the other five percent, we continue to work on that. Kandice is uninhibited, unpretentious and unassuming, qualities we could all emulate.

She has given back to us and those whose lives she has touched, love and unbridled appreciation – much more than we could have ever imagined.

We only want her future to be as bright, promising and laden with potential as her past. And, yet, we recognize our own mortality. We are haunted by one incessant question: “Who will be there for Kandice when we are no longer her primary caregivers?”

It is for that reason we are profoundly grateful to the Tampa Bay Jewish community – responding to the precepts of Tikun Olam – making more complete our imperfect world . . . that Tikvah House holds immense promise as Kandice’s future nurturing home when we are no longer able to provide.

Over the years we have felt strengthened, uplifted and validated by the teachings of our faith: “He who saves but one life . . . it is as though he has saved the world.” Community support for Tikvah House underscores this ultimate truism. Our rich Jewish heritage teaches us to reach out and empower those deserving individuals who are entitled to a dignified, meaningful and fulfilling lifestyle as they strive to realize their God-given potential – each in their own way – in a wholesome, supervised, interactive and inter-generational nurturing home environment. We owe them no less!

This poem was written by Ron Yogman, shortly after realization of his daughter Kandice’s lifetime diagnosis of autism – when she was about a year old (approx. 1979-80)

There’ll come a day,
A long time from now, I pray;
When Mom and Dad are old and gray
And no longer can show you the way.

What will you do?
Where will you go?
Who will you be, precious daughter?
I wish I could see forever.
I wish I could be there for you!

We’re destined to part,
No matter how sheltered,
No matter how smart;
But from your heart we need never depart!

Let me hold you, even scold you
While I am still able;
But wherever you go, whatever you do
You’ll always wear your ‘label’

Gaze into my eyes,
Try to hear my sighs,
The memory of your gorgeous face
I shall never surrender nor erase!

You’ve come so far,
Yet have much further to go;
I wish I could slow the hands of time
And teach you all I know.

Destiny’s child,
Unlock your potential;
Shed your differential,
Be at peace with your world!

 

 
1135 PASADENA AVENUE SOUTH
SUITE 103
ST. PETERSBURG, FL 33707   
727.321.HOPE (4673)   E-MAIL: INFO@TIKVAHSUNCOAST.ORG
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