Photo Credit: COJO Flatbush
Family members celebrating with Ann.

COJO Flatbush recently held a Seniors Arts Party worthy of special mention for two reasons. Not only was it the first arts party after the Yamim Tovim – which means the parties are now back on a regular schedule – it was also a celebration of the 100th birthday of Midwood resident Ann Cizma.

Birthday girl Ann Cizma.

While COJO Senior Arts Parties are always fun-filled and memorable, Mrs. Cizma’s birthday added an extra level of festivity, and the presence of several close relatives –children, grandchildren, and their spouses – in addition to dozens of COJO Senior Division clients, made the gathering all the more poignant. Also seated at the birthday table was Mrs. Cizma’s longtime devoted aide Mary – who “we all consider part of our family,” said Mrs. Cizma’s daughter Lisa.


The birthday girl was born in Poland in 1923 and came to America as a teenager in 1939, barely escaping Europe before it was too late. Her father was already in the U.S., and his tireless efforts to bring members of his family here succeeded with the help of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who had learned of their plight.

Ann quickly adjusted to her new reality in America, in time becoming a wife and a mother and raising a beautiful family with her late husband, Jack. It’s been a life well lived, and for the family members who were able to join COJO in celebrating their matriarch’s special day, it was a time for reflection as well as commemoration.

Artists at work.

The party’s featured activity was watercolor painting, with all of the attendees using a template of a tree silhouette, and watercolors of their choosing, to create personal masterpieces which were then framed for them to take home. A delicious salmon lunch followed, along with words of Torah inspiration from COJO staffer Rinat Roshko.

The focus then shifted to Ann, who was presented with a beautiful birthday cake large enough to provide slices for all. COJO Flatbush CEO Louis Welz delivered personal best wishes – and promised to make a similar party for anyone else in the room upon their 100th birthday.

Welz describes the agency’s seniors division as “a central part of COJO’s mission, offering encouragement and assistance on many levels. One of those ways is with luncheons and art parties, where seniors can come together for good fellowship, good entertainment, and all-around good cheer.”

Eye-catching artwork.

Adds Shulamis Shapiro, COJO’s Director of Social Services, “Bringing seniors out of their homes to socialize is so important. The companionship and the activities we arrange make such a difference. It’s a real lifeline, enabling seniors to feel vital and active.”

For further information about the many services provided by COJO’s Pikus Senior Enrichment Programs, please call (718) 377-2900, ext. 342.

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Jason Maoz served as Senior Editor of The Jewish Press from 2001-2018. Presently he is Communications Coordinator at COJO Flatbush.