Between Us: Let’s talk about destinations

Between Us

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller

Last week, I had the pleasure of traveling with a family member of one of our most generous family foundations. As a “second generation” donor, he wanted to learn more about the many agencies, services and programs funded by The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington with the generous support of his family and thousands of other donors from our community.

We only had a few hours, so our trip stayed close to Federation’s office in North Bethesda. We visited – and learned from – my colleagues at the Jewish Coalition Against Domestic Abuse (JCADA), the Jewish Council on the Aging (JCA) and its Misler Adult Day Center and the Bender JCC of Greater Washington (Bender JCC).

At JCADA, we learned from Executive Director Elissa Schwartz of the extraordinary growth in the number of clients currently seen by JCADA. Since its founding in 2000, JCADA’s mission has been to support victims of domestic abuse, educate community professionals and lay leaders about domestic abuse and appropriate responses and prevent future generations from suffering by raising awareness. JCADA now sees over 100 clients a month at its non-disclosed office location. In the last year alone, JCADA served 357 individuals through its helpline and counseling services and educated approximately 2,340 youth, parents and educators about healthy relationships.

Our next stop was the Misler Adult Day Center, located in the Ring House. We heard from David Gamse, JCA’s CEO, and Elinor Ginzler, Senior Director of the Cahnmann Center for Supportive Services. For four decades, the Misler Center has been providing stimulating activities, socialization and nursing supervision for older adults with physical, cognitive or emotional challenges. Services include door-to-door transportation and hot kosher lunches. Grants and donations help keep the costs affordable. As many as 50 seniors attend Misler each weekday, which provides top quality programming for the seniors and much-needed respite for their caregivers.

Finally, we visited the Bender JCC to learn from CEO Michael Feinstein and Heather Sachs, the parent of a child in the JCC’s Inclusion Camp. Heather told us of the extraordinary sense of belonging and joy her daughter feels at the summer day camp, where she participates fully in all activities, aided by an extraordinary 1:1 staff to camper ratio. We also heard from Debbie Sokobin, Bender JCC’s Director of Senior Adult Services, who told us about an innovative English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program that will be provided by the JCC for non-English speaking employees of the Charles E. Smith Life Communities.

In just three hours, we traveled to three destinations, all within 1/4 mile of each other. We learned about the extraordinary services provided by just a few of Federation’s many partners. We learned about the measurable impact – with immeasurable heart – that these services have on the lives of victims of domestic abuse, seniors struggling with memory loss, children with disabilities and colleagues seeking to get ahead (just as many of our grandparents did) by learning English.

Federation’s Annual Campaign provides critical support for these programs, and many more, locally, in Israel and around the world. We sometimes travel overseas to see these services in action, but no passport was needed for our visit last week.

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Indeed, a destination is more than a place. It is a new way of seeing things that may be just around the corner.