Lenny Handler, a 94-year-old Sunrise of Bethesda, MD resident, is a car wash expert who spent over 30 years working in the industry in New York. Lenny opened Elmsford Car Wash in 1962, before selling that operation and teaming up with his brother Mike and a third partner to open Yonkers Car Wash in 1968.
For 28 years, Lenny worked alongside his staff as a jack of all trades at Yonkers Car Wash, performing tasks such as welding, electrical repairs, plumbing, carpentry, and more in addition to washing the cars. After retiring in 1996, Lenny moved to Bethesda, MD, in 2013. And just a few months ago, he made the newly opened Sunrise of Bethesda his home, where his three children visit regularly.
On July 13, Handler put his experience and expertise to use, as the Sunrise of Bethesda team held a car wash to benefit the volunteer Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad.
“The rescue squad and Sunrise Senior Living are two organizations that help people,” said Gabe Pinkney, the community’s driver and activities assistant. “We thought it would be nice to show our gratitude for them by teaming up together for a good cause.”
Handler served as special adviser for the event, sitting outside and enjoying the beautiful weather with other residents while reminiscing about his days working in the car wash industry. He got to meet Deputy Chief Jim Resnick, as well as several firefighters and emergency medical technicians (EMTs), who were in attendance to observe the event and have their vehicles washed.
“Lenny was thrilled with the event,” said Pinkney. “To allow Mr. Handler an opportunity to live with purpose and to revel in a longtime adventure that he was involved in professionally, was something that gave us all great joy.”
Over the course of three hours, team members washed 46 total cars, firetrucks, and ambulances, while also selling plenty of hot dogs and lunch items. In total, the team raised $500 for the fire squad!
“The event was a big success! Bernice Weinstein, one of our most outgoing residents, volunteered to help us out by taking lots of photos,” said Pinkney. “And in addition to team members and residents, the firefighters enjoyed the event as well. They brought some ambulances and firetrucks through our car wash line, and also brought over a snazzy 1972 Cadillac ambulance, which served as the last car-style ambulance.”
This event was just the latest instance of Sunrise of Bethesda participating in Live With Generosity, a Sunrise program where communities partake in local service projects. Residents have also baked brownies and written thank you notes to the staff at the rescue squad, an act of gratitude that leaves both parties feeling fulfilled.
Giving back enables residents to remain physically active and mentally healthy, all while maintaining a strong sense of human connection by making a difference in the local community. Live With Generosity is one of eight Live With Purpose programs at Sunrise, all of which nourish residents’ minds, bodies, and spirits through enriching and personalized activities.
“We think it’s important to give back and assist our neighbors, especially ones who provide valuable services to our neighborhood,” said Pinkney. “It was very nice to be able to bring to life a great partnership between our community and the rescue squad.”
Live With Purpose at Sunrise
Whether it’s volunteering or participating in daily exercise classes, Sunrise residents always have something to look forward to. We invite you to call the community nearest you to set up a time to visit and learn more!
A version of this article appeared in the Kol Habirah newspaper.