Jeffrey and Susan Brudnick, pictured with their son Jonathan and his wife, Sandra, and daughters Olivia and Zie, gather at the Aviv long-term care and rehab center in Peabody, which is named in their honor.
By LEAH DEABORN
Swampscott’s Jeffrey Brudnick doesn’t like to take much credit for the donations he’s made to the North Shore community.
“I’m not interested in promoting myself,” said Brudnick, who along with his wife, Susan, made a $1 million gift to the Chelsea Jewish Foundation (CJF) to benefit the Aviv long-term care and rehab center in Peabody. The couple also made a $500,000 gift to North Shore Medical Center’s (NSMC) Best Care, Right Place campaign.
At NSMC, the funds were used to cover the costs of the newly constructed Breast Health Center at Salem Hospital, which has since been named the Brudnick Women’s Breast Health Center. Opened in 2009, the center specializes in screening and diagnostic mammography. It’s operated through a collaborative program with Massachusetts General Hospital.
“It’s a way of expressing appreciation for the wonderful care I received from the Heart Center at Salem Hospital,” said Brudnick, an insurance executive who has no professional background in the healthcare industry himself, but who underwent life-saving coronary bypass surgery 10 years ago.
The Brudnicks’ three children, Jason, Jonathan and Jessica, Swampscott’s Jeffrey Brudnick doesn’t like to take much credit for the donations he’s made to the North Shore community.
“I’m not interested in promoting myself,” said Brudnick, who along with his wife, Susan, made a $1 million gift to also have ties to NSMC. Jonathan was born at the Birthplace at Salem Hospital, and Jason and Jessica recuperated in the hospital’s Special Care Nursery after being born prematurely.
Jessica now works as a social worker with Northeast Arc, providing services to local families in the organization’s early intervention program. “I’ve always been passionate about working in and giving back to the world of early intervention, which gave me and my family so much,” she said. All three engage in their own forms of giving, but, like their father, they prefer to keep a low profile and focus on the work rather than their contributions.
Brudnick’s philanthropy efforts are nothing to sneeze at, but it’s easy to see why he wants to let the various projects speak for themselves. Like NSMC, the CJF has also since put the Brudnicks’ gift to good use.
Founded in 1919, the CJF is one of the oldest and largest senior healthcare centers in Massachusetts. Its facilities include a special memory care unit and the Leonard Florence Center for Living, opened in 2010. It’s the country’s first and only permanent residence dedicated to caring for individuals living with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Using sensors that track head and eye movements, residents of the center are able to open doors, turn up or down their bedroom shades, adjust room temperatures and call the elevator.
“Barry’s gone out and created something where these folks can continue to run their lives through their tablets and technology,” said Brudnick. “It’s very uplifting spiritually to see what he’s done.” He’s referring to Barry Berman, now the foundation’s chief operating officer, whom Brudnick first
became acquainted with about 35 years ago. He was asked to join the board of the CJF shortly after their introduction.
Berman then led him to get involved with the newest venture when Aviv Centers for Living, Inc. and the CJF announced that they would be combining in 2014, with the foundation taking over management of the Aviv properties.Aviv, based in Peabody, has served the North Shore since 1945. Its Jewish Rehabilitation Center in Swampscott opened in 1972 and was renamed Aviv Centers for Living in 2010.In 2012, it relocated to Peabody and was renamed the Waldfogel Center for Living.
“Being a North Shore guy, I felt it was a good opportunity to step in,” said Brudnick, who has lived in Swampscott for nearly four decades.
The donation was also driven by Susan’s work as a volunteer for the CJF and as an advocate for seniors. She has worked for the CJF and as an advocate for seniors. She has worked on and off in the field of elderly care for more than 25 years, most recently as director of activities for the CJF’s Cohen Florence Levine Estates in Chelsea.
“Susan, for as long as I can remember, has had a desire to help the elderly,” said Brudnick. “As our children grew older, she was able to devote substantially more time to that work.”
In the Brudnicks’ honor, the CJF skilled nursing facility in Peabody, formerly known as the Aviv Skilled Nursing Facility and Jewish Rehabilitation Center of the North Shore, has been renamed the Jeffrey and Susan Brudnick Center for Living. Located within the Waldfogel Health Center, it
Offers comprehensive services for long-term care, short-term rehab and memory support.
“We believe in giving gifts to organizations we think are exemplary,” said Brudnick, who added that part of the reason he donates is to hopefully inspire others in the community to give when they’re able.
“They will tell you at any fundraiser that the backbone are the smaller gifts,” he said. “A lot of people think that unless you make a major gift, it doesn’t make a difference, but that’s wrong. No donation is ever too small.”
Photos: Paula Muller