Meet the allies that help Lucy Seligson keep the residents of the Lillian Booth Actors Home joyful

No man is an island, and no hero works in isolation. Behind those making a difference in the world—those whose stories are often and rightfully celebrated—is a support team that relentlessly works to make change possible. In ways big and small, material and spiritual, this community of allies works hard to create a better world. These are their stories.


Lucy Seligson

Director of Social Services, Lillian Booth Actors Home

Photo by Aubrey Edwards

“We look after our own,” says Lucy Seligson, the vivacious director of social services at the Lillian Booth Actors Home in Englewood, N.J. The home, on a tree-lined street just over the George Washington Bridge, is a refuge and resting place for all those who have devoted a significant portion of their lives to the arts. Through halls lined with theater posters walk, shuffle and wheel actors, musicians, stagehands,choreographers and singers from eras past. “Often,” says Seligson, a native Kentuckian whose accent can still be heard, “the fact that they worked as artists has made a home like ours even more necessary.” The facility, which is supported by the Actors Fund, a national organization that helps professionals in performing arts and entertainment in times of need, provides care regardless of income.
Seligson,who trained as a clinical social worker after a successful Broadway career, is in charge of coordinating the social activities, which, considering the population of the home, tend to be artistic. “There’s scientific evidence that shows that creativity promotes healthy aging,” she says. So whether it is a weekly sing-along, a movie night or staging a play, Seligson works closely with the residents and the medical team to provide an outlet for them to “really be themselves.”


Larry Woodard

Resident/Musician, Lillian Booth Actors Home

Of course, Seligson’s work relies on the residents. Without them, there would be no society to serve. Larry Woodard is a perfect example of an artistic ally. Since he was in the third grade in Memphis, Tenn., he has had an ear for music. For his entire career, Woodard—a pianist and choral arranger—has helped create harmony among voices. Sometimes he accompanies himself on piano. Often he is the piano accompaniment for cabaret acts. Still gigging at age 69, Woodard has found a happy home at Lillian Booth. Says Woodard: “Every time I sit down at the piano,all my worries fall away.” Happily, at Lillian Booth there’s a piano in nearly every room, and through Seligson’s programming, Woodard has the opportunity to play with his friends. On a recent afternoon, the residents gathered in thesalon. Woodard sat on a bench in front of a grand piano. Seligson was there too. They ran through a couple of Christmas songs and cabaret standards.Together, the group raised its voice to sing, and for a moment, it was as iftime had fallen away.


Jordan Strohl

Administrator, Lillian Booth Actors Home

Jordan Strohl grew up in show business. Though he wasn’t onstage, as a third-generation restaurateur at New York’s famed Cafe Edison, an old theater hangout, he was constantly surrounded by artists. Strohl started out at the Lillian Booth Actors Home as an intern and quickly rose to the role of administrator. It is up to Strohl to balance the stringent regulations that govern nursing and assisted-living facilities and the unique characteristics of his community. He’s responsible for the $31 million capital project, currently manifest as a vast construction project that will eventually increase the bed capacity from 124 to 169, including a 20-bed memory care and 25-bed acute care center.
Buthe’s also the person who provides the financial support and budgetary creativity to give to Seligson all she needs to do her job. “I rely on her,” he says, with a smile, “she’s a relentless problem solver and a great advocate for the residents here.” Whether it’s sending Seligson to conferences or installing the latest professional grade sound system—these are, after all, professionals—Strohl is very much the homemaker.

“Have you ever played SimCity,” asks Schoffstall, the boyish co-founder of Stae, “well,we’re trying to do that but for real.” Schoffstall, originally from Arizona, is an engineering whiz who met Edgar at a hackathon in San Francisco. “We clicked immediately,” recalls Schoffstall. Schoffstall is the man responsible for taking Edgar’s grand vision and translating it into actual functionality. “Our product is reliant on our ability to process billions and billions of data points,” he explains. Using his background in technology and his entrepreneurial spirit, Schoffstall is Edgar’s partner in benevolence. “If we could take just a little bit of thetalent and the energy out there and focus it on doing more social-good-type endeavors, we would undergo very radical changes very quickly,” Schoffstall says. With Stae, Schoffstall is doing his part.


Harry Roselle


“We’re not a retirement community,”explains Seligson, “we’re a nursing home and assisted-living facility.” Sopeople, she says, have a medical reason for coming here. Though the majority ofcare comes from the nursing staff, many residents eagerly await the arrival Dr.Harry Roselle, the former head doctor at the Lillian Booth Actors Home, nowemeritus. A spry man in his 80s, Roselle has been visiting the home for the past40 years, much of that time as a volunteer. “Obviously,” he notes, “for theresidents to engage in social programming, they need to stay as healthy as theycan.” That falls to the well-trained staff and Roselle, who work hand-in-handwith Seligson to assist residents’ needs and limitations. For Roselle, thebonds go beyond a simple doctor-patient relationship. “This is my family. Beingat this home is the most meaningful thing I’ve done in my life,” he says. “It’san honor.”

Platforms are great, but, like stages, there has to be someone on them for them to come alive. That’s where Brian Platt, the dynamic young director of the Office of Innovation in Jersey City, N.J., comes in. “I had heard about Stae through colleagues of mine in other cities,” he says. “Our visions were aligned.” For Platt, Stae offered the ability to digest complex data and analyze it at a level that the current municipal government couldn’t. “We don’t have a full-time data analyst,” he says, “or really the right equipment to manage that stuff, so we needed something that was basically ready to go.” Stae’s easy-to-use interface, and the underlying horsepower beneath it, allows Platt and his team in Jersey to know their city better and, ultimately, make the lives of his constituents better too.

This feature was produced in collaboration between The Foundry and Ally.
The editorial staff was not involved with the creation or production of this content.

©2016. TIME Inc. All Rights Reserved

This feature was produced in collaboration between The Foundry and Ally.
The editorial staff was not involved with the creation or production of this content.

©2016. TIME Inc. All Rights Reserved