The Fashion Show Director: Never too old to be a model

Rafi Motechin, a junior at Touro’s Lander College for Men, recently organized a fashion show for the residents of New Vanderbilt Rehab & Care Center in Staten Island.

March 16, 2012

“I’ve always had an appreciation for fashion and wanted to give the residents an opportunity in which they could re-experience that feeling of vibrancy and youth,” said Motechin, a 21-year old from Staten Island who is majoring in business management and marketing and is taking courses required for a nursing home administration license. “It was a phenomenally successful event and it surpassed my expectations.”

Motechin was an administrative intern at the New Vanderbilt last summer and still continues to intern there every Friday. His responsibilities have exceeded those of most interns, including determining how to cut the costs of the resident’s over-the-counter medications and performing daily audits on fire safety, cleanliness, proper handrails and other necessities and then meeting with the Department of Health to review his reports.

Five months ago Motechin approached the department head at New Vanderbilt with the idea for the fashion show. Although she told him that she thought the scale of the project seemed too ambitious, he insisted that he was capable of putting it together. Only later did he realize just how much work was needed. Operating on a shoe-string budget, Motechin secured a seven-piece band to play at the event, arranged for a make-up artist to come and volunteer her time and met with all of the participating residents to coordinate their outfits. He also contacted a number of businesses and asked for donations of clothes and jewelry.

He also served as the Master of Ceremonies, describing the outfits of the models as they strutted down the catwalk wearing donated shirts, ties, sweaters, vests, cardigans, blazers and scarves for the men, and gowns, dresses, purses, hats, jewelry and various different accessories for the women. He also mentioned the interests of the models, whether it was their children, their former jobs and, for the many Catholics at the New Vanderbilt, their devotion to their religion.

"Rafi’s enthusiasm and ingenuity are contagious,” said Dr. Moshe Sokol, dean of the Lander College for Men. “He took a wonderful idea, and made it a reality, bringing joy to the lives of the elderly."