Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a “stand still” kind of person. I don’t stand in one place for a long time. I don’t think about one thing for a long time. And I certainly don’t like standing still because I am boxed in. Perhaps it is related to how my father taught me to drive. “Never focus on the car in front of you,” he would say. “Focus on the car or cars in front of the car in front of you.”
Spring in the northeast is a great time to address not standing still. The winters here can certainly make you appreciate the warmer weather of the spring and the feeling that we can do so much more. The weather is less inhibiting; the greening of the lawns, the colors of the flowers and the greater daylight hours call to us to move forward. While my days used to end earlier, I feel much more motivated to “do” with the sun giving me a few extra hours of daylight.
This time of year also has its excitement as we begin planning for the coming year.
Everybody knows about our Annual Campaign for Jewish Needs. Everybody knows the Federation raises money. But, spring also means the Federation’s annual allocations process. For, what would fundraising be were it not for the fund distribution process. We have an excellent committee of community volunteers, chaired this year by Gary Fromer, who review the funding requests from our beneficiary agencies, synagogues and organizations. They do a marvelous job ensuring the accountability of the entire fundraising and fund distribution process.
Invariably, the requests from our beneficiaries far exceed the available funds in our allocations process. And when we don’t have enough funds for new programs or to expand existing programs, we start to stand still.
And where do you go standing still?
The Jewish Day School has asked for increased funding to improve their educational offerings particularly to students requiring additional learning resources. The school wants to better accommodate all students, those who are learning challenged as well as those who are learning gifted. The Jewish Community Center has a growing afterschool enrichment program, in partnership with the Jewish Day School. But they need transportation to make the program accessible to more students. The JCC also seeks additional funds to grow their “PrimeTime” adult programming and to offer a Valley-wide Jewish book and authors’ series.
Jewish Family Service plans to strategically grow its programming with a comprehensive volunteer program providing screening, training, supervision and evaluation of direct service volunteers. Our Hillels are planning new and expanded ways to grow their engagement of college students into campus Jewish life. The outreach and engagement is less about the Hillels and more about enabling the students – as individuals and not as their parents’ children – to explore and define their own Jewish adulthood. Several Lehigh Valley congregations are joining together to plan a multi-synagogue shabbaton in the Poconos.
Our Jewish Education Services initiative seeks to provide teacher training to enhance the capacity of our synagogue-based education system and strengthen adult Jewish learning in the Lehigh Valley. And the past few years have reminded us that our efforts to address anti-Semitism, prejudice and anti-Israel propaganda cannot be lessened.
And I could go on.
For our community to move forward, we need the right amount of several things. We need visionary leadership at our agencies, organizations, and synagogues – the front-line of service delivery in our community – to call our attention to how we can improve Jewish life in the Lehigh Valley. We have that.
We need responsible agencies and synagogues able to deliver effective programs. We have that.
We need a communal vision and leadership able to distribute funds to emerging priorities while addressing the efficacy of funding existing services. We have that.
But, without raising more money, we, at best, will stand still. At worst, we cut programs and services and step backward. And no one really wants that. Especially not the people who benefit from the services we fund, or the people who need the services we fund.
If you have not yet made your commitment to our 2016 Annual Campaign, please do so now so we can include your pledge in this allocations cycle.
We need you. We need you now.
In more ways than one, without your support, involvement and generosity, we become a “stand-still” community. And I know this community won’t “stand” for that.