Adam Zussman (second from right) played in a foursome with (from left) Bill McKeogh, Eric Rillo and Lowell Scott at the 2022 Lois Zussman Golf Classic
Adam Zussman (second from right) played in a foursome with (from left) Bill McKeogh, Eric Rillo and Lowell Scott at the 2022 Lois Zussman Golf Classic

Gesher was launched Jan. 1, resulting from the 2021 merger of the nonprofit Kadima and JVS Human Services that separately provided services for 12,000 clients of many religious and ethnic backgrounds in Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties with mental health challenges.

The Lois Zussman Golf Classic is a deeply personal philanthropic effort for the Zussman family.

The annual outing at Franklin Hills Country Club raises money for the Lois and Milton Y. Zussman Activity Center/Clubhouse in Southfield, which formerly was operated by Kadima Mental Health Services and now is under the auspices of the recently formed Southfield-based Gesher Human Services.

Lois and Milton Zussman, who were married for 52 years, were passionate about Kadima for many reasons, according to their son Rick Zussman.

One reason was family.

Lois and Milt Zussman in 2015
Lois and Milt Zussman in 2015

Warren Zussman, 70, Lois and Milton’s son, is a Gesher client. He lives in supportive housing for individuals with a mental illness that formerly was operated by Kadima.
Lois Zussman died in 2015 at age 88.

Milton Zussman celebrated his 100th birthday Oct. 7, 2021. He died Aug. 8, 2022, about a month after this year’s golf outing. A benefactor donated $99,000 to the Lois Zussman Golf Classic last year in honor of Milton Zussman’s 100th birthday.

Rick Zussman, a former Kadima board president, said this year’s golf outing raised more than $200,000 and attracted its usual attendance of about 120 golfers. Generous sponsors are a major reason for the consistent six-figure fundraising figure.

Milton Zussman was the presenting sponsor of this year’s golf outing. He was unable to attend, but he wrote a letter of thanks that appeared in the outing program.

Paul Blatt, Gesher president and CEO, is thrilled the golf outing is part of Gesher.
“While the money raised is important, of course, and we truly appreciate the work the Zussman family puts into the golf outing, what’s equally important is the outing raises awareness of the work done at the activity center/clubhouse,” he said.

“People need to know the amazing resources we have available.”

The Zussman family started the golf outing about 20 years ago and have joined with friends and business colleagues to perpetuate and grow the event.

Rick Zussman was the chair of this year’s golf outing organizing committee and Rick’s son Adam Zussman was a committee member. Rick Zussman also is a member of the new Gesher board.

Lois and Milton Zussman were longtime supporters of the Kadima day program, which led to the opening of the activity center/clubhouse, a place where people with a mental health diagnosis can benefit from social and cultural activities, vocational and educational support, and horticultural and culinary activities.

“The program at the activity center/clubhouse is central to Gesher’s support of people with mental health challenges,” Blatt said.

“It’s a place of acceptance, friendship, support, creativity and positively — qualities often absent from the lives of people in our community.”

Gesher was launched Jan. 1, resulting from the 2021 merger of the nonprofit Kadima and JVS Human Services that separately provided services for 12,000 clients of many religious and ethnic backgrounds in Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties with mental health challenges.

Gesher means “bridge” in Hebrew. The new name was chosen to demonstrate the continuity of services offered by JVS and Kadima.

JVS was formed in 1941. Kadima grew out of it in 1984.

“The merger is a great idea. Gesher provides one-stop shopping for the people the combined organization serves,” Rick Zussman said.

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