Monthly Archives: March 2012

First Round of Room Makeovers Go Off With A Bang….And a Few Tears

By Josh Silver

This past Saturday, March 24, 2012, marked the first round of room makeover reveals for Beit T’Shuvah’s Charity Design Project.  A small crowd of residents and designers gathered at the entrance to the first door.  It was a scene reminiscent of children about to open their holiday gifts.  A scene where the only people more excited than the residents are the designers who get to watch their recipients’ faces light up.  For the residents, it was the first time they were allowed to see their new rooms, after 3 weeks of displacement.  For the designers, it was a chance to see, first hand, how their creative contributions will change the lives of these residents.

Working for a charity like Beit T’Shuvah can be a truly unique experience and people seemed to come out of the woodwork (literally, even carpenters) to help with this project.  Silvia Lombardo and Gabriella Toro are two designers who joined creative forces on Room 205 of the male corridor.  For these two women, working with Beit T’Shuvah was a wholly new frontier.   Silvia and Gabriella are the owners of their own design firm, Cippananda Interior Design, where they specialize in high-end clientele. When they were asked to take on the Charity Design Project, “We just said yes without even thinking,” says Gabriella.  “We all have someone that we know with this problem [addiction]…,” says Silvia, “and so it was a rewarding experience.”  Their goal for the room was to create a relaxing and peaceful atmosphere; a comfort zone where the residents could have everything they needed in a small space.  By all accounts, it was a smashing success.  The two men who received this gift ran around the room like kids in a toy store.  Trying out the beds, playing with the dimmer switch (something never seen in a primary care room before), and exploring the wondrous space of their new closets.  The room’s color scheme, black and neutrals, created a clearly masculine atmosphere.  This once dormish-looking room had been transformed into a haven of comfort and style.

Before and After PhotosAfter PhotosCindy Teitelbaum and Lauren Wolf are another dynamic duo.  Their firm, Pastiche Avenue, is more than a business venture—it’s a personal one.  As their website reads, “Large or small, our projects deliver on your vision.”  They have done just that here. “[The residents] need a place to unwind,” says Cindy.  They employed “soothing colors” and “sustainable items” to create a unique and resilient experience for each resident that will pass through these rooms. Pistachio green walls and dark wood furniture are the new rejuvenating yet utilitarian accents.  Not to mention a flat-screen television that will surely become the envy of the female hallways.

All of the residents who were recipients of the transformed living spaces reacted with stark amazement.  Many of them have never lived in a room with so much care and passion put into it.  There was laughter, tears, gasps of shock, and loud exclamations of joy from both the residents and the designers, who were overjoyed that so many of the residents appreciated their hard work.  Designers were flanked by family members who came to the Mini Reveal to observe their loved ones’ life-enhancing work.  With Heidi Bendetson, Founder of Designed from the Heart, and co-chair Rhonda Snyder working as sort of masters of ceremonies for the reveal, everything went off without a hitch.

It wasn’t just the residents and designers who were elated to see the unveiling of Beit T’Shuvah’s transformation.  Beit T’Shuvah staff members popped out of every corner, anxious to see the rooms.  Many of the staff members are former residents themselves.  “This isn’t the same ol’ Beit T’Shuvah,” says Inga, a Resident Intern at Beit T’Shuvah.  As Cantor Rachel Goldman Neubauer walked into a new room, she shed a few quiet tears of bliss and whispered, “I haven’t been in here since I was a resident…it looks amazing.”

Of course, this emotional day was only the beginning.  Work has already begun on the second block of bedrooms at Beit T’Shuvah with another Mini Reveal scheduled in just 3 weeks.  The work that these designers are doing has already made a lasting impact on all of Beit T’Shuvah.  On behalf of the Beit T’Shuvah community, we couldn’t be more grateful.

Stay tuned for more updates, as the heart-thumping, tear-jerking transformation of Beit T’Shuvah continues to take flight.



Filed under Beit T'Shuvah, Charity Design Project, Current Events, T'Shuvah

LA Marathon – The Transition Zone: Part 2/4

By Jaron Zanerhaft

Back in the car, I wrap myself up in a blanket that one of our runners tossed my way before she lined up with the team.  I go over my notes in the back seat as we merge onto the highway, wrap around the city, and end up on the wrong side of the street at our next stop.  Lauren, Erin, and I cross the street, dodging people as if we were playing Frogger with the marathon runners, and land safely at the transition zone—the respite 13.1 miles down the course designated for two-person teams to switch runners.  For them, this is the starting lines and finish lines, but for most runners, this is only the halfway point.

It’s hard to believe that the sparse flow of runners right now came from the focused torrent I just left.  But a crowd still gathers, greeting and sending off runners who are taking advantage of this year’s half-marathon partnership. A single open lane is partitioned off from the main drag by lightweight metal bike-rack barricades.   People wander in and out of this lane, gathering a little every now and then, but break apart when a runner comes, just like kids playing street hockey would make way for oncoming cars.

At first, we don’t see anyone we recognize, and my media team sets up near a tent where some guy with a microphone is shouting out runners’ first names as they pass, creating an eerie sense of familiarity.  Of course, the announcer only knows the runners’ names from what he can read on their bibs, but it makes it seem like today, Los Angeles, normally broken into countless cultural and lifestyle distinctions, is united.

Craig, the first of our team to reach the transition zone, swooshes by at 9:09, one minute earlier than he had predicted. He grabs a bottle filled with some deep green nutrient concoction and jets off.

Our 2nd half runners eagerly await their counterparts’ arrivals.  One runner received word this morning that his counterpart did not show up to the hotel the night before.  Still committed to running his half, he waits with the rest of the BTS team.  I wait with him and watch him as he takes off, not early and alone like he could have, but only when another from our team gets the go-ahead, so that he may run with a friend.

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Filed under Beit T'Shuvah, BTS Communications, Current Events, Judaism, LA Marathon, Run To Save A Soul, Spirituality

LA Marathon – The Starting Line: Part 1/4

By Jaron Zanerhaft

Last Sunday, I was tasked with covering the 2012 Honda LA Marathon for Beit T’Shuvah.  My day began with a fresh notebook three hours before dawn and didn’t end until our last runner crossed the finish line. The day was so full that I felt compelled to break my story into four parts, one for each stop along the way.  This is Part 1.

The Starting Line

In the cover of a dark morning, thousands of people file in with 5 a.m. mechanized legs, as if on moving sidewalks made invisible by the black asphalt of the Dodger Stadium parking lot. The stagnant cold pricks my half-closed eyelids.  I tap the sharp tip of the pencil in my jacket pocket and make my way from the car with Lauren and Erin towards the gathering.

Tents speckle a large section of the parking lot closest to the stadium.  Only two days before, these tents hosted a myriad of vendors, presenters, solicitors, supporters, and fundraisers in a bustling expo.  Now, the tarps shelter bundles of runners.  The Beit T’Shuvah team leans against a tent across from a table handing out last minute bananas and bagels in the middle of the parking lot.  Some are quiet.  Some are stretching.  All look ready.

As the sun begins to rise, the runners take their places behind a starting line 23,000 people deep.  I take my place on the other side of the line, just around the first curve. I watch the wheelchairs take off, then the competitive women take their 7+minute head start, and finally, as the loud speaker bellows a count, the 2012 Honda LA Marathon begins.

In an instant, the thick crowd takes the first turn like a herd of predators starving for the next meal.  They share a hunger for the road.  Underfoot, powerbar wrappers, energy shot empties, and chapsticks that fell from overstocked utility belts get trampled by the stampede.

Flashes of uniforms speed by my perch— four yellow tank-tops, three forest green headbands with a white stripe, too many spandex-and-short-shorts outfits, and finally, a group of light blue t-shirts with white lettering and a dark blue runner silhouette.  Those who are running to save souls stick together in a tight pack, looking out for each other, making sure every single runner gets off to a strong start.  The race has just started, and I’m already proud of my community.

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Filed under Beit T'Shuvah, BTS Communications, Current Events, LA Marathon, Run To Save A Soul, Spirituality

The Redemption Chronicles

It’s that time again.  This week’s theme is hobbies/activities.  Doing things I enjoy is great for my recovery. It gets me out of my head and away from focusing on my constantly racing thoughts.  For me, it’s taking photographs.  For you it might be reading, or writing, or playing sports.  Think about it.  What do you really enjoy doing?  Now go do it!  You’re worth it.

PS.  Comments and feedback are HIGHLY encouraged.  Not only does it help me out, but I do take my readers into consideration when I write my blogs so the more feedback i get, the more enjoyable they will be for you!  Thanks!  And thanks again for all of the comments so far!


Photoblogger E-Pad

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The Redemption Chronicles

By: Photoblogger E-Pad

Caution, recovery isn’t easy.  It has some rough patches, but the trudge through makes you that much stronger.  Keep on, keeping on Beit T’Shuvah.

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Beit T’Shuvah Charity Design Project: The Brunch

Paint Heart

Art by Mr. Brainwash

The last few weeks have been full of planning as Beit T’Shuvah prepares to undergo an interior design overhaul for their primary bedrooms.  So far things have been running incredibly smooth.  The interior designers have been assembled, and the workers and volunteers are being recruited.  Everything is on track for the design of the first block of rooms on March 5, 2012, this upcoming Monday.  The newest updates to the Beit T’Shuvah Charity Design Project were announced last Wednesday at a commencement brunch held for all of the generous designers and enthusiastic Beit T’Shuvah players to be involved.

The delicious meal catered by our very own Rod Moses of the Beit T’Shuvah kitchen was kicked off with a note of encouragement from the spiritual leader of Beit T’Shuvah, Rabbi Mark Borovitz, followed by a short message of gratitude from the CEO, Harriet Rossetto.  Both of them expressed how grateful they were to the designers while interweaving a few key stories as to the founding of Beit T’Shuvah.  “We help people realize that they matter,” says Rabbi Mark, “and this helps us to get the message out.”

As the honey crusted salmon and pureed cauliflower were quietly laid out in the back of the room, Heidi Bendetson and Rhonda Snyder stepped up to address the crowd.  The Co-Chairs of the Design Project have known each other since they were 2 years old.  And as Rhonda fondly recalls, “When Heidi married my cousin we finally became family.” As their friendship bloomed into family, they discovered a shared love for supporting charitable causes- some more taboo then others.

Brunch, Beit T'Shuvah, DesignersHeidi and Rhonda are clearly as excited to work with Beit T’Shuvah as Beit T’Shuvah is grateful to have their help.  Heidi, who founded interior design company Designed From The Heart says, “Once I told people I wanted to take my project here,” people came out of the woodwork saying, “that place [Beit T’Shuvah] is amazing.”  Coupled with the fact that Rhonda has direct family in the Beit T’Shuvah program, there is, for them, a vested interest in helping Beit T’Shuvah.  They both love meeting the residents that they will be helping and it was a special treat for them to hear a personal story from one of the newest resident interns, Michael LaFon, who shared his experience and hope during the brunch.

Once everyone’s hunger for food and chit chat was satisfied, it was time for logistics. Rooms were assigned, technical questions were answered, and concerns were laid to rest. In just a couple of days, our first rooms will ‘break ground’ (break curtain? Break wallpaper?).  It will mean months of hard work from a dedicated team of volunteers but everyone involved seems fiercely determined.

Stay tuned for our upcoming teaser video, and ongoing footage as the project unfolds.

*For opportunities to get involved:

  • as a designer (whether you’re an interior designer or have incredible decorating panache)
  •  a sponsor of furniture or materials such as paint, flooring, carpeting, fabric, window treatments, etc),
  • service provider (such as flooring, painting, lighting, etc)
  • or just a good ol’ volunteer

Please contact Heidi at or 310-702-2558 for details!

* Community Service Hours available and all Donations are Tax Deductible.

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