On Sunday morning Oct. 25, I got on a bus with 14 members of the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix’s Women’s Philanthropy and went on a mini-mission to visit some of the essential community programs partly funded through federation dollars.
I was wowed. I thought I knew about the agencies that the federation supports, but knowing and feeling are two different things. I got to do a lot of feeling.
We drove to the East Valley JCC and saw their robust preschool and after-school programs come to life as Pam Morris, school director, took us on a tour of their vibrant classrooms. You could just feel the energy that takes place when the children are there. Among their other programs, we heard about the East Valley initiative to educate the public about the Holocaust, attended by thousands of people.
We then went on to Arizona State University and heard about the new Israel advocacy position funded by the federation. This is a joint program being implemented through Hillel at ASU and ASU JAC (Jewish Arizonans on Campus). Debbie Yunker Kail, executive director of Hillel, and Chana Goldstein of JAC told us with passion about the successes this program is having and the growth their organizations are experiencing on the ASU campus. We also had brunch at Hillel with 10 young ASU female students, each with different career interests. It was touching to hear from these students about the importance of Hillel and Jewish life on campus and to experience their excitement about the future as professional women and as Jews.
Between stops, we heard from two other women. Carrol Gottfried, development director of Jewish Family & Children’s Service, spoke to us about the diverse and large number of people touched by the myriad programs of JFCS. While all of their efforts are hugely important to the greater Phoenix community, I was also heartened to hear about the initiatives focused on the Jewish community. The Jewish Chaplaincy Program, the Senior Concierge Program and the Senior Center at Brookdale/Chris Ridge were created with federation funding and successfully implemented by JFCS.
The other on-bus “tour guide,” Stacey Cohen, the new NowGen program director, spoke to us about another of the federation’s new initiatives and how she will involve people who are in their 20s and 30s. Her enthusiasm and ideas to engage the next generation in our community to create programming that meets their needs was infectious.
I think all of us who attended this mini-mission were moved and filled with such pride to see and hear from the people who help make our community great. Each of these organizations is recognized nationally for successful, innovative programs. We came away delighted that our federation is a part of that success. It was a great way to spend Sunday morning.
Tricia Beran, Scottsdale