Stories of Recovery

Cortnie's Story

Cortnie shares the support she received from one of our social workers, and her surprise in learning how they were connected.

I had my own studio where I helped other people believe they could heal. I taught them Pilates, holistic health, and biomechanics to help them recover from complex injuries and surgery. About a year ago, after having lunch with a friend, I got into a taxi to come downtown to my next client.

The taxi driver was driving very erratically; It all happened so fast. I was in the hospital for 44 days.

There was structural damage in my brain and my mobility was limited. I had trouble with my eyes. I couldn’t remember things. I never went back home because I couldn’t walk up the stairs to my apartment.

I was almost homeless, but luckily someone helped me with a temporary place to stay at a senior care residence. While there, I wanted to start going to synagogue because it’s something I used to do and is very important to me. I found one close by, Lincoln Square Synagogue, and the rabbi there was very nice. I asked if I could meet his wife because it’s nice to talk with other women at the synagogue, but she had gone home with the children already. I planned to meet her next week.

Around that time, a dear friend passed on my information to UJA-Federation of New York, who connected me to The Jewish Board. A few days later, I got a call from Sarah, a social worker from The Jewish Board. She said she’ll help me with everything I need: from getting the medical care I needed to therapeutic and spiritual counseling.

During our call, she asked if I had place I’m going to synagogue, and I told her about the great synagogue I found, the rabbi I met, and how I was planning to meet his wife. She replied, “I don’t usually tell clients this, but that rabbi you mentioned? I’m his wife. So, I’ll see you on Shabbat, too.” I couldn’t believe it, and I thought okay, there is definitely a God.

With Sarah, everything started to change. I didn’t have a spouse or a family member to help me, but I had Sarah. As my care manager, she helped me navigate our confusing, fragmented, healthcare system so I could get the care I needed, joining me on doctor’s visits, helping me to fill out forms, and so much more. When my insurance kept rejecting my needs, Sarah helped make my case. Because of Sarah, I have a caretaker, 12 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Sarah kept me stable during trying times, and as a further blessing there was no charges—the services I received from The Jewish Board were made possible by the generosity of others. I’ve been given this gift to try and get better. Recently, because of the community at Lincoln Square Synagogue, I moved into my own home, and this is another miracle for me.

I still want the same things – I am an entrepreneur with a passion for life and for my career and community. But I am still suffering from the effects of the crash. My speech and movements are different, and I worry how will my choices be different by publicly acknowledging my brain injury.

But, I think back to the other people in the hospital, and I realize that those are my people. There is a sadness in knowing the truth of what many people go through, and there’s also the reality that something must be done about it. We really need each other, and every moment is an opportunity to help someone else.

That’s what I think about my experience with The Jewish Board. All these things and people coming together – it’s not an accident. We’re all connected.

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