Feb 2005 Journal

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Emotional farewell as Day Centre organiser Sylvia Matus retires

Sylvia Matus, organiser of AJR's Paul Balint Day Centre, retired at the end of January after 29 years service to the AJR..

At a crowded, emotional farewell lunch, AJR Chairman Andrew Kaufman paid tribute to 'the tremendous efforts made by Sylvia on behalf of the AJR. We will miss her energy, enthusiasm and commitment - as will our members, who regard her as the embodiment of the Day Centre.' He described Sylvia as having administered 'tender loving care' to members. Her successor, Susie Kaufman, who has worked so closely with Sylvia for 18 years, perhaps even more tearful than Sylvia herself, spoke of her colleague's 'labour of love'. Bertha Leverton expressed deep gratitude on behalf of Kindertransport members.

Sylvia joined the AJR in 1976 as a volunteer, later becoming an assistant in the home help department finding paid helpers for members. When the Day Centre opened in 1987, Sylvia, with her gentle and sympathetic approach to people, seemed the obvious choice to lead it.

Sylvia held overall responsibility for the daily running of the Day Centre, including the entertainment programme and, with Susie as Catering Manager, the production of over 20,000 kosher meals a year for members at the Centre as well as takeaway and meals-on-wheels.

In addition, Sylvia initiated weekends away for AJR members. In response to the success of this scheme, week-long holidays now take place twice a year in resorts such as Bournemouth and Eastbourne.

Sylvia cultivated a family atmosphere at the Day Centre. Members, volunteers and staff - all were part of her extended family. She never failed to put her own interests firmly behind those of others.

Sylvia's immediate plans are clear. She and her husband Howard are going on a South American cruise, following which she is planning to begin a course at the University of the Third Age. To say Sylvia will be missed by her family at the Day Centre she has done so much to shape, seems trite.
Howard Spier

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