2016-02-17 / Columns

Our community’s vital programs exist because of the funds you donate

FEDERATION PRESIDENT’S CORNER
VICKI ZELL
Federation President

When I got involved in Federation about 12 years ago, it was on the condition that I would never have to ask anyone for money. I liked to organize and help others and build community— and I felt that would be enough.

And then a funny thing happened. I started volunteering for BookMates, one of our programs through the Jewish Community Relations Council. One afternoon, I was sharing my enthusiasm for the program with a group of women who were involved with the Jewish Federation. Nothing more, just telling stories about reading out loud to a child who had missed half of kindergarten because it wasn’t important to her parents to get her to school and how, through my one hour a week, this child began to read. As I shared my passion for this program, I realized I had caught the attention of one of the women in particular. Before I knew it, the woman said, “I’d like to donate money to that program.” I was caught off guard! I hadn’t asked. I wasn’t even supposed to be asking for money. But my love of the program inspired her to offer to give and then to become a reader. I had just become a volunteer fundraiser for Federation and I hadn’t even realized it!

All these years later, asking for financial support for our programs has become much easier and I have come to really enjoy talking to my friends and neighbors about it. By giving through Federation, our pooled donations support our greater Jewish community as well as individuals who are in need.

Have a child at the JCC Camps at Medford? Federation dollars helped make that camp happen. Have a parent in one of our senior housing buildings? Federation dollars helped build those residences. Have a child in day school? Federation supports our day schools. Been confronted by an anti-Semitic incident? Federation supports one-on-one conversations with schools and individuals to educate the community about the impact of hate speech. Care about Jewish life and security around the world? Federation supports the Jewish Agency for Israel and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee—agencies that look after our Jewish brothers and sisters around the world.

Thank you to all who made the call and answered the call during Super Sunday/Week. Together, we raised over $1-million to support our Jewish community. Combined with our Major Gifts Dinner and our end-of-year mailing, we are about two-thirds of the way to our campaign goal of $3.15-million. To those of you we haven’t yet reached, we urge you to make a pledge online at jewishsouthjersey.org to support those in need right here in our own South Jersey community and in Jewish communities in Israel and 90 other countries around the world.

Every call that is answered matters. I have the privilege of speaking with generous donors who answer the phone saying, “I’ve been waiting for your call. Yes, I would like to support the Federation and am willing to increase my gift because of the challenge grant provided by the Marvin Samson Foundation.” I also have the privilege of speaking with donors who say, “I have fallen on hard times. Please accept my $25 gift because while my life is difficult, I would still like to perform the mitzvah of helping others.” Those are some of the most meaningful calls, because I have the opportunity to respond, “That is why we are making these calls and raising money. These funds are to help our community members like you. What can Federation do for you?”

I believe in what we do at here at Federation and I treasure my conversations with each and every one of you. Thank you for answering the call and for your generous support of our Jewish community through the Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey.

 jfedpres@jfedsnj.org

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