2018-09-12 / Voice at the Shore

Samantha Hammond, young mom with community passion, is new LIFE & LEGACY coordinator

By ELLEN WEISMAN STRENGER Voice shore editor

New LIFE & LEGACY coordinator Samantha Hammond is with her son Leo. New LIFE & LEGACY coordinator Samantha Hammond is with her son Leo. Samantha Hammond, a young mother who is active in many Jewish organizations locally, epitomizes what the LIFE & LEGACY program is all about, said Jewish Federation Executive Director Kirk Wisemayer. This month Hammond began as our community’s new LIFE & LEGACY coordinator.

“Samantha brings energy, enthusiasm and talent to the position, but beyond that, she represents the future of our Jewish community,” said Wisemayer of Hammond, a Pennsylvania native who is mother to a 4-month-old son named Leo. Samantha’s husband, financial planner Zachary Hammond, grew up attending Temple Emeth Shalom in Margate.

“Her family and others like them need a strong, vibrant Jewish community in which to raise their children—just like families here have had for generations, thanks to the generosity and foresight of so many Jewish community leaders,” said Wisemayer

The LIFE & LEGACY program is designed to ensure that strong, vibrant Jewish communities will exist for future generations. Created by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation and convened locally by our Jewish Community Foundation, the program is helping ten local Jewish organizations create endowment funds to assure their future financial security. Money for these endowments comes from legacy gifts made by community members.

“LIFE & LEGACY is a unique and special opportunity for our community to come together to ensure we have the assets to continue to provide a meaningful and engaging experience of Jewish life and community,” explained Jeff Kripitz, who chairs the local LIFE & LEGACY program.

That goal is one that Hammond wholeheartedly supports. “I want to make sure my son will have the same strong Jewish background that I have,” said Hammond, who was actively involved in many Jewish organizations while growing up in Harrisburg, PA.

“The only way for that to happen— for families like mine and for future generations—is for Jewish organizations to thrive, which requires money! I understand how difficult it is for nonprofits to fund their activities,” she added.

Hammond’s previous experience working in donor relations and development for Jewish Family and Children Services in Philadelphia and for several other non-profit organizations will be a tremendous asset to our LIFE & LEGACY program, said Kripitz.

In her role, “Samantha will serve as a resource to local organizations and their legacy teams, ensuring they have the information and resources they need to talk with community members about legacy giving and their aspirations for the future of this Jewish community,” he explained.

The LIFE & LEGACY Program, which began March 1, requires each organization to secure commitments for 18 legacy gifts by the end of February—for a community total of 180 legacy commitments during the first year. As a community, “we are more than a third of the way toward this year’s target goal of 180 legacy gifts,” noted Wisemayer. “We have 67 commitments worth an estimated $4 million in future assets that can be invested to ensure the future of our local Jewish organizations.”

Ten Jewish organizations are currently participating in the local LIFE & LEGACY program. These include the Avoda Club, Beron Jewish Older Adult Services, Beth Israel, the Board of Jewish Education, JCC, JFS, Jewish Federation of Atlantic & Cape May Counties, Jewish Federation of Cumberland, Gloucester, & Salem counties, Seashore Gardens Living Center, and Shirat Hayam.

Hammond said she’s up to the challenge of helping these organizations reach their goals— for this year and for the rest of the four-year program. “I’m so excited. It’s a really important job. Legacy giving programs are really important for the future. It’s not easy to talk to people about after-lifetime giving, but sometimes that’s the most important conversation to have.”

For Hammond, the LIFE & LEGACY coordinator job is a way to further deepen her involvement in the local Jewish community. “When I found out I was expecting, I wanted to develop roots here,” she explained. Her husband was close to Rabbi Gordon Geller, so she became active in Shirat Hayam, where Geller now serves as the Reform rabbi. From there she learned of NextGen, a Jewish Federation group for people in their 20s through 40s, and is now on the NextGen board.

This summer, she and her son branched out further into the community by taking music classes at Beth Israel, where she met new people as well as bonded with NextGen members in the class whom she already knew. “I can’t speak for Leo, but I had a great time!” she laughed. 

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