Thanks to Joan Bergman who works on my New York Family magazine team I was introduced to JARC, an organiza- tion in Boca Raton, Florida, whose mission is “helping extraordinary people lead ordinary lives.”
The group is devoted to people with special needs similar to the group I helped found in New York, Life’s WORC. What I loved about JARC’s mission is their vision to pro- vide homes and programs to peo- ple who may have developmental disabilities, but are given the opportunity to reach their potential.
I first went to their annual golf outing at the lush St. Andrew’s Country Club to meet Bergman and the group’s CEO, Jeff Zirulnick. It felt like deja vu, reminding me of the Geraldo Rivera Golf Classic that benefits Life’s WORC. The sold-out group golfing for a cause appeared happy to be there. The CEO explained that this was one of many events held to raise critical dollars to support their JARC programs.
Zirulnick invited me to visit JARC’s homes the next day and I did. It was impressive to see their day program kitchen, where they train their clients for jobs in the hospitality industry, run music and art classes and the independent living apartment for clients. Those services are on a massive campus with other Jewish Federation-supported programs.
From there we went to visit group homes, only a few minutes away. We drove into a driveway leading to the ‘group home neighborhood’ of clustered typical Florida attached homes. When we walked through the door I was happy to see the residents giving high fives to Jeff the CEO. He knew them and they knew him.
I was delighted to smell the sweet flavors of the food being cooked. We’ve come a long way in providing opportunities and breaking down barriers for individuals with disabilities.
Visiting The National PGA Resort
I had the pure pleasure of being pampered at the luxurious spa. It has new owners who have invested more than $100 million to make the resort and spa match its renowned golf courses. Their motto is “experience legendary moments” and I did. They just received the 2022 Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice award.
Their six championship golf courses and new world-class spa lived up to the hype, as did the state-of-the-art sports and racquetball club, the exclusive membership club and the luxurious hotel. I was also impressed that they boast a ballroom for 700 people and many rooms for meetings. It’s a true destination location.
The drive from Palm Beach to Palm Beach Gardens is 30 minutes north of where I’m staying. As the massive doors to the spa opened I felt I walked into another world. The warm, almost glowing environment matched the warmth of the people greeting me.
I was walked into the spa Bernie, one of the spa attendants, who took my hand which I appreciated since it was my first day walking with no cane, after recovering from an injury. to lead me to the locker room.
She carefully explained how to use the lock, but then with a wink she said, “Don’t worry. I will be here for you with a key if you forget the code.” I appreciated that.
Then she led me to the dimly lit room where I was to get a facial and introduced me to the smil- ing esthetician who had prepared a heated bed for me. The hour with her left me feel- ing rejuvenated. Her professional hands did their magic.
From there I was shown by the helpful, smiling staff to the hot tub. They offered me water as I luxuriated in the warm waters. There was a sauna and steam room in the space so I could go from one to the other. I felt all the tension in my body lost in the bubbling waters. The show- ers were equipped with fragrant washes for my body and hair. It felt so good.
I took advantage of the calm, quiet resting room to just relish the wondrous care I had received.
There was a makeup room and Bernie helped me blow dry my hair as I slowly made my way back to reality.
I was escorted back to the front desk but not before I stopped at the well-merchandised spa gift store.
I couldn’t resist buying a purse laminated with pages from The New York Times. After all, they are now the printers of our weekly newspapers, so we’re part of their “family.”
I bought one for my friend Denise Arbesu, who is a transplanted New Yorker, as is her husband Peter Meyer, thinking that “you can take the girl out of New York but you can’t take New York out of the girl.” She loved the bag too.
From the spa after making my purchases the director walked me to the resort restaurant to meet Resort Manager Matt Kiner and his associate Torreka Canady, the guest relations manager, who had perfect, welcoming smiles.
I had lunch in Honeybell, one of the hotel’s four restaurants that have an extensive brunch menu that I chose from for my meal after the spa treatments.
Sitting in a beautiful tropical setting, having lunch, was the end of a picture-perfect day at the stunning PGA National Resort. Visit their website at pgaresort.com.