JFSA to mark mitzvah project at homeless women’s center

A new mural by local artist Michael B. Schwartz is part of the garden space at the Sister Jose Women’s Center, which the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona refurbished as its 70th Anniversary Mitzvah Project.

The Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona will hold a dedication of its 70th Anniversary Mitzvah Project at the Sister Jose Women’s Center, 1050 S. Park Ave., on Sunday, May 6 from 11 a.m. to noon.

Participants can tour the facility, learn how the outdoor space — the focus of the mitzvah project — affects the women who visit Sister Jose, and enjoy refreshments.

“As a Federation we looked for a special way to connect within our local community for a meaningful project true to our mission for our 70th anniversary and found Sister Jose to be a compelling need which had to be filled. How could we not do something to help over 1,000 homeless females in downtown Tucson who looked for shelter and aid from their endless travail? We could not ask for a better partner. Jean Fedigan and all of the Sister Jose volunteers are angels. Our Federation is very fortunate to be a part of this mission,” says Bruce Ash, co-chair with his wife, Jane, of the JFSA 70th Anniversary Mitzvah Project.

Fedigan, Sister Jose’s executive director, says it is hard to describe the impact the garden, and the whole center, has on the women who spend time there.

“Coming in from a street full of violence and fear into a place of peace is extraordinary,” she says. “The garden area is a place where quiet talk happens and community is formed. Last weekend, in the early morning, I was in the back alley speaking to a woman who had walked as far as she could and laid down in the alley in the middle of the night to rest. She was hungry, tired and in need of someone to help her. I asked her if she would like to come into the garden area and have a bite to eat and some coffee. She was happy to gather her things and went into the garden area. As I watched her walk through the gate, I became aware of the sound of laughter and talking together of women. I peeked around the corner and several women were gathered at a table, in community, sharing their stories, showing kindness to one another. Someone said something funny and they broke into gales of laughter. What a lovely sound.

“I love the words tikkun olam (repair of the world] because they perfectly describe what is happening here,” says Fedigan.

RSVP at www.jfsa.org or email jscott@jfsa.org.