Jane Hart: Journalist, Author, and Art Therapist

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Kendal on Hudson resident Jane H. is a renaissance woman, a multi-talented and compassionate person who uses her gifts to touch and improve the lives of others.

As an author, it took many years to engage in the intense but rewarding process of earning the trust of holocaust survivors to provide readers with a unique and almost forgotten perspective on World War II history. Her efforts produced a seminal work, Hidden Children: The Secret Survivors of the Holocaust, published by Ballantine Books in 1995 to document the untold stories of children who survived by hiding or being hidden from the Nazis. Hidden Children was also made available as a Penguin Random House ebook a couple of months ago.

 

The book’s preface writer, Abe Foxman, director of the Anti-Defamation League, had this to say: “We came to realize the importance of other people hearing our stories so that they could understand the Holocaust in terms of the living as well as the 6 million Jews who died: Jane Marks Hart became the keeper of our stories.”

 

Jane is a trusted keeper of stories, in addition to the trust, respect and esteem she earned during her 35-year career as a Pulitzer-nominated journalist, magazine writer, and author. After retirement, she was inspired by the example of an art therapist she encountered while volunteering at the children’s ward of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and, at age 50, went back to school to obtain a master’s degree in art therapy.

 

Now, as a board-certified, state-licensed art therapist, Jane volunteers her time each month at Sing-Sing Correctional Facility, where inmates enjoy the opportunity for creative expression she provides. She’s also developed her skills as a portrait painter, and has had the pleasure of painting many of her resident friends at Kendal on Hudson. Jane is commissioned to paint portraits of humans as well as animals, from dogs and pigs, to horses and hedgehogs, and she donates 100% of the proceeds to LPC TV in Ludlow, Vermont and the Volunteer Fire Department in Procterville, Vermont, where she and her husband own a second home.

 

The continuing care community of Kendal on Hudson was a perfect fit for Jane and her husband, Stan Hart, the Emmy-award winning comedy writer with many television credits whose work appeared for decades in Mad magazine. They found Kendal to be an embracing community with accessible people. Stan has subsequently developed a disabling and progressive brain disorder and resides in the skilled nursing wing at Kendal on Hudson. He’s 6’3, has little flexibility, and his condition requires 24-hour assistance that make it impossible for Jane to manage things on her own. Stan now receives the care he needs and Jane maintains close, personal contact with him on a daily basis, while continuing to live independently and enjoy the activities she loves. It was the best choice for both of them.

 

Jane had been looking for a retirement community that was dog-friendly, and her dog at the time, Lefty, a Tibetan Terrier, seemed to adjust to Kendal on Hudson right away. He loved to be petted by the residents, even though the breed isn’t normally friendly to strangers, she said.

 

“You never know whom you’re going to meet here,” says Jane of the many remarkable people who reside at Kendal on Hudson. “They’re smart and nice— especially when you learn over dinner that this quiet person you’ve been conversing with has cured cancer or painted the Mona Lisa,” she chuckles.

 

Jane enjoys the Hudson River view at Kendal on Hudson, loves going for walks with a friend each morning in the beautiful Rockefeller State Park Preserve located adjacent to the property, and appreciates the fact that she’s only 25 miles from New York City, where she remains connected with friends, a literary and arts club, and ballet and theater. She can meet friends for lunch in the city and be back to spend time with her husband before he goes to bed—knowing that her husband will be cared for safely and comfortably the whole time.

 

She can also take the four-hour car ride to her second home in Vermont, where she goes every other month for a week, and she can continue to travel as well: She took an excursion to southeast Asia not long ago, recently returned from taking her granddaughter to Paris, and will be off again in August to work with friends at an orphanage in Uganda.

 

She concludes: “Kendal residents are wonderfully open and embrace rather than stigmatize residents with disabilities.”


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