Visiting Greece, Israel, Russia and Ukraine on Federation missions, sisters Audrey Brooks and Donna Moser recognized that while the landscapes and languages may vary, the problems people face are similar all over the world.
That led them to create a new theme, “Their Lives are in Our Hands,” for the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona 2015 Community Campaign, which they are co-chairing.
“I have always felt we are saving lives” through the Federation, which supports a variety of social service, educational and community building programs in Tucson, Israel and around the world, “but this theme has more to do with changing lives,” says Brooks.
“Although she’s gone, it’s as though she’s sitting on my shoulder,” says Moser.
While the U.S. economy has begun to improve, needs in Tucson and beyond continue to grow, notes Brooks. The campaign goal this year is $3.5 million. It’s ambitious, the co-chairs acknowledge, but they’re ready to tackle it with the help of Federation staff and volunteers.
“We have a dream team of a Campaign cabinet,” says Brooks, including Shelley Silverman, Campaign vice chair; Marcia Abelson, Women’s Philanthropy Campaign chair; and Deborah Oseran, Women’s Philanthropy Campaign vice chair.
Abelson sees the new Campaign theme as an extension of social action projects Federation and Women’s Philanthropy undertake to meet the needs of vulnerable Jews and non-Jews, here and abroad. These include the Mitzvah Magic program, which gives holiday food and gifts to local Jewish families; the Homer Davis Project, providing food for needy elementary school children; and a new campaign against sex trafficking that was introduced at a women’s event last week.
“Jewish women have always realized ‘Their Lives are in Our Hands,’” says Abelson.
“The Jewish Federation, along with our partners, is uniquely positioned to plan for our future and to mobilize efforts to provide on-the-ground help where and when it’s needed most. We’re out front and behind the scenes,” says Brenda Landau, Federation senior vice president. “During the most recent crisis in Ukraine, we’ve been there to provide food, medicine, shelter and security for Jews in the most at-risk areas. And, behind the scenes, here at home, we provide indigent burials for our own Jews in need. Our campaign leadership has a deep understanding of these needs — and they each bring a personal history of Jewish involvement and giving back to community. Their enthusiasm and dedication are contagious.”
To inspire increased Campaign gifts, volunteers will explain to donors how various amounts can help in the community. For example, $18 gives a tzedekah box to a new B’nai Tzedek teen philanthropist, $125 ensures a month of medication for a Jewish senior in need, and $3,000 sends one Hillel student or young adult on a Taglit-Birthright Israel trip.
At Campaign events, a giving tree poster representing the theme of “Their Lives are in Our Hands” will honor donors who increase their gifts.
Brooks and Moser hope to reach out to the many Jews in Tucson who remain unconnected to the Jewish community. That might be as simple as striking up a conversation, says Moser, who recalls chatting with an acquaintance, telling him about Federation’s varied programs. He began pulling dollar bills from his pockets to make a donation to last year’s campaign.
“It’s always inspiring to witness great campaign volunteers such as Audrey, Donna and their whole team step up on behalf of our community. So many nonprofits structure their fundraising around professional solicitors — but at the heart of our Federation’s Community Campaign are the community members who express their devotion to Jewish life through their willingness to ask others to support our collective effort. ‘The sisters,’ as we like to call them, exemplify this spirit,” says Stuart Mellan, Federation president and CEO.
The 2015 campaign officially begins Nov. 9. For a chart that details how Federation funds are spent, see www.jfsa. org/ways-to-give/where-the-money-goes. For more information, call 577-9393.