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West Hartford Jewish Organizations Partner for 17th ‘Jessie’s Community Garden’

Members of the Kostin family, on left (Dane, Michele and Elisabeth), stand with Hebrew Senior Care CEO, Denise Peterson, to cut the ribbon for the new installation of “Jessie’s Community Garden” at Hoffman SummerWood. On right are Denise Jones, Executive Director of Hoffman SummerWood, and David Waren, CEO of The Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford”Photo credit: Madelene Francese, Vice President, Development and Marketing (Hebrew Senior Care)

Hoffman Summerwood, Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford , and Kostin Family announce partnership to manage Jessie’s Community Garden.

Hoffman SummerWood, vibrant senior living community in West Hartford CT, is host to the newest installation of “Jessie’s Community Gardens,” donated by the Kostin family in memory of Jessica Lynn Kostin. Photo credit: Madelene Francese, Vice President, Development and Marketing (Hebrew Senior Care)

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Hoffman SummerWood, a vibrant senior living community located at 160 Simsbury Road in West Hartford, CT, has partnered with the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford and the Kostin family of West Hartford to install and manage Connecticut’s newest location of Jessie’s Community Gardens.

Jessie’s Community Gardens is a heartwarming initiative established by the Kostin family to commemorate, honor, and celebrate the life of Jessica Lynn Kostin, daughter of Dane and Michele Kostin and sister of Elisabeth, Jeremy, and Whitney Kostin.

Managed by the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford and maintained by volunteers from all faiths and walks of life, Jessie’s Community Gardens are primarily located throughout Connecticut but can also be found as far away as San Francisco, CA. They are located at schools, synagogues, churches, parks, community centers, and now at Hoffman SummerWood ⁠– marking the 17th garden installation.

Most feature vegetable plants and produce, and one contains a fruit tree orchard. Fresh produce from Jessie’s Community Gardens benefit a diverse range of recipients including Jewish Family Services’ Anja Rosenberg Kosher Food Pantry, which is currently providing food relief to those adversely affected by COVID-19 across Connecticut.

“Michele and I needed to find a way to give memory to our dear daughter, whose untimely death 10 years ago at the young age of 26 was so devastating to our family,” said Dane Kostin, Jessie’s father. “We chose this project as it ties together Jessie’s love for gourmet cooking with fresh vegetables, paired with her passion for social justice in helping to feed those in need.”

In May of 2020, the Kostin family and Federation donated four raised planting beds for installation on SummerWood’s back patio. This marks the second Jessie’s Garden installation featuring specially raised beds that allow wheelchair accessibility for gardeners with mobility issues.

The ability to garden outdoors in the fresh air during the pandemic has been a gift to SummerWood residents, especially longtime garden volunteer, Dave Wolansky. “The garden provides a great deal of satisfaction for all of us,” said Wolansky. “This is the first time we have been able to produce such a great crop of vegetables. It is especially rewarding because our senior community here is growing produce to be donated to Connecticut’s senior community. It’s seniors helping seniors.”

The SummerWood community offers independent living as well as customized assisted living plans in an environment that promotes community, independence, and an active senior lifestyle.

Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford protects and enhances the well-being of Jews worldwide through the values of tikkun olam (repairing the world), tzedakah (charity and social justice) and Torah (Jewish learning).

The story of Hoffman SummerWood continues to be that of a strong commitment to exceptional senior housing and supportive senior services that promote the ultimate health and wellness of mind, body and spirit; and the opportunity for individuals to gracefully and comfortably age in place within a caring, safe and home-like environment and community.

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