Sandy Kochberg is proud to tell you that she was one of Reena’s first clients because her mother helped found Reena. In fact, when Sandy’s mother, Syrma Kochberg, sent her 5-year-old to kindergarten and discovered that Sandy was developmentally challenged she connected with Rabbi Joseph Kelmanz”tl and other parents of children with diverse abilities and began to advocate for her daughter. “My mother knew everybody,” says Hyla Kochberg, Sandy’s sister. “She was one of those very social people, she started bringing her friends into the organization…Eleanor London, Rochelle Carrady, Harvey Adelman.” Through her efforts Syrma helped found Reena Foundation in 1973, where she served as Chair from 1981-1983.   


Today Sandy Kochberg is 66 years old and lives in an apartment at the Lou Fruitman Reena Residence she shares with two roommates. Her beautiful artwork decorates her room along with pictures of family. Over the years Sandy has enjoyed all that Reena has to offer including spending time at Camp Reena and participating in Reena’s cottage program. She moved into one of Reena’s first group homes at age 23, later moving into an apartment with roommates. Sandy’s friendly, outgoing personality led her to spend many years working with children at Gan Yeladim nursery. “I used to work with little kids at the synagogue,” says Sandy, “I read them a story, help with the bags. I love them.”  

Now retired, Sandy spends her days enjoying Reena programs like singing, games and yoga, and makes sure to attend all of Reena’s special events and celebrations from BBQ’s and birthday parties to gala events and fundraisers.  Sandy even had the opportunity to travel to Israel with Reena. But Sandy’s favourite activity these days is cooking.  

As a resident of the Lou Fruitman Reena Residence Sandy can often be found in the lobby greeting visitors, participating in an on-site program or one right next door at the Toby and Henry Battle Developmental Centre. She also enjoys the buildings gym and, most importantly to Sandy, gets the opportunity to enjoy the cooking program in the building’s kitchen facilities. “I love to cook. I cook a lot of stuff…Chinese noodles, stir fry,” she says. 

Pamela Watson, Senior Direct Support Staff who works with Sandy says she is a great Reena ambassador. “She represents Reena well. Sandy likes to tell everybody about Reena. Sandy educates people about Reena. When I want anyone to know anything that I don’t know, I ask Sandy, and she knows.” According to Pamela, Sandy’s passion for Reena comes out everywhere, including the bank, where Sandy has been known to ask people if they have heard about Reena? And then proceed to educate them all about it.  

Hyla Kochberg says Reena is doing for Sandy exactly what she knows her mother worked for. “She is being very well looked after at Reena. In that way we have such comfort.” Sandy could not agree more. “Reena is a very good place. It makes me happy.”