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Scottsdale Woman Becomes Unlikely Zoom Warrior

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  • Written By: Nichole Webman
Scottsdale Woman Becomes Unlikely Zoom Warrior

Life is a journey that can come full circle when you least expect it. Risa Mallin spent most of her adult life giving back to communities in need. When she found herself on the receiving end of Jewish Family and Children’s Service (JFCS), she was excited to share the hidden gems that were discovered while exploring the vast opportunities JFCS offers.

When Risa’s husband, Bruce, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, her instinctive response was to play an active part in providing him support. Risa searched for a place where Bruce could find joy and companionship amidst the shared experiences of others walking the same challenging path of Alzheimer’s. Fueled by the realization that she possessed the power to make a difference not only in Bruce’s life, but also the lives of others, Risa joined forces with Kathy Rood, the Jewish programs manager at JFCS, to start a Memory Cafe of their own. Memory Cafe offers a variety of brain-stimulating activities such as music, art, movement, and education, to support people with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia, as well as their caregivers.

“The teachers are fabulous and seem to have adapted to Zoom very nicely.”

As the pandemic started, Bruce's journey came to an end. Widowed and in the midst of a global shutdown, she looked for anything that would keep her engaged. An interesting and exciting invitation came from Jennifer Brauner, Director of the Center for Senior Enrichment (CSE), about virtual being available to the community. She thought to herself, “Well, that's for me because I'm not going anywhere.” And that’s when her great love affair with Zoom began.

“I became the Zoom lover. I love Zoom!” she says. She’s practically Zoom’s (unpaid) brand ambassador. She says she can’t get enough of how many experiences she’s been able to take part in through the convenience of the CSE program.

“It's easy and pleasant,” she says. “The teachers are fabulous and seem to have adapted to Zoom very nicely. It was served to me on a silver platter.”

Three years later and Risa still looks forward to her Monday and Wednesday exercise Zoom classes. She's improved her health without feeling as if she needs to be proficient. Last week, Risa went to France! Virtually, that is. She got all the perks and none of the fuss with a detailed virtual tour through Montmartre.

Because Risa no longer travels, she enjoys the ability to learn more about history and art from the comfort of her own home. Risa has also embarked on a new journey of telling stories and creating poetry through the guidance of professional teachers at the CSE.

“I understand a little bit more about poetry and that it doesn’t have to have a rhyme at the end,” she says. “It just has to touch me. A personal message, and so I love that.”

Whether Risa is improving on her passion for the written word, religiously attending her exercise classes, or immersing herself in art from far-off places, Risa is motivated to learn and explore and has no intentions of losing out on the beauty of life.

“The older you get, the smaller your world gets,” she says. “Every opportunity you get to broaden that world is just wonderful.”

The ways in which JFCS has added to Risa’s life, lies in the power of community. It’s a power she’s believed in her entire life that has boomeranged back into her life with fabulous color.

To learn more about the Center for Senior Enrichment and Creative Aging programs, watch Risa's video below, visit our web page or contact Jennifer Brauner at