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A Thousand- Watt Smile: The Life & Impact of Jerry Hattem

For the past 25 years, Jerry Hattem’s smile and stories warmed the hearts of many in the DOROT community. A longtime volunteer who passed away in July 2022, Jerry will be remembered for his good cheer and ability to connect easily with just about everyone.

Jerry began volunteering after his mother and grandmother passed away. He used to visit them weekly at the Sephardic Home for the Aged in Brooklyn and would also take time to speak with other residents who spoke his native Ladino. He knew how devastating social isolation could be.

His first match as a Friendly Visitor led to a five-year relationship with Gertrude M., who quickly became a part of his family. Two more Friendly Visiting relationships ensued, and DOROT itself literally became part of Jerry’s family, as his son Jack recalled.

“In some ways I grew up alongside DOROT, and the time and effort my dad put in has inspired me and now my children to do our part,” said Jack, who currently serves on DOROT’s Board Investment Committee. Jack’s daughter Ellie is carrying on the family tradition, having dedicated her Bat Mitzvah project to DOROT, then prepping and delivering Thanksgiving meals. This year, in Jerry’s memory, Jack and Ellie distributed packages to volunteers ready to deliver them to older adults on the Upper West Side.

“My dad’s work with DOROT confirmed all we knew about him as a kind and caring person,” said Jack. “How great for him to have found an outlet for that kindness, and how lucky for DOROT.”

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