There is an organization that helps the elderly, the ill, the young, the hungry of all races, faiths and political affiliations in the Greater Washington area. No, I’m not referring to the government. For 120 years the Jewish Social Service Agency (JSSA) has dutifully served its community. This year alone over 37,000 people have been assisted by the organization.
For generations the agency has had a meaningful impact on the lives of people the it touched. For Maryland native, Howard Rothman, JSSA entered his life in the early 90s when his mother became ill and needed hospice care. They came to the house twice a week to clean and do the shopping. JSSA recently reentered Rothman’s life as a form of relief for one his children when his daughter began to have separation anxiety during his divorce. During the alternating weeks of custody JSSA counselors were able to provide her with counselors that have helped her go from making ten or more calls in a weekend to her mother down to two.
As a nonprofit, the work the agency would not be possible without the support of the community. Over the past ten years, 482 individuals made annual gifts for a total impact of $13.2 million. Though no small figure the amount the work that remains to be done exceeds the donations received. To further JSSA in its mission many individuals have made the organization a beneficiary in their wills. To honor such people, JSSA hosted a Legacy Brunch. Though legacy giving is not a new concept it has yet to set roots in the Jewish philanthropic world despite being fairly simple to initiate. A legacy contribution can be made through various means such as designating an organization on an IRA form or creating a fund within another organization. Contrary to popular belief, legacy giving is not only for the super wealthy. Donations of any size from the meager to the sizeable are welcome to help further the work of the agency.
JSSA has made many friends over the years. One of their board members, Vic Seested, is evidence of that. Though he himself is not Jewish, his life has been touched by JSSA through the impact it made in his friends’ lives growing up in Maryland and he wanted to be a member of the organization which had enriched the lives of those who he loves. To assist JSSA in its mission to honor those who have designated the agency as a beneficiary of legacy contributions, Seested had his restaurant, Taste Gastropub in Olney, Maryland provide the three course meal for everyone who attended. The event also featured Matt Nosanchuk, the Associate Director of the Public Engagement and Liaison to the Jewish Community for the White House, as the keynote speaker.
For Nosanchuk, he views his role within the White House as the representative of the President to the Jewish people. At the brunch he espoused support for the work of JSSA over the past century. For him, it is important to bring new voices from across the spectrum of Jewish observance into the community and the inclusive nature of the agency facilitates that goal.
If you are interested in getting involved or finding out more about the agency they will be hosting a brunch on December 15 as a part of their Eggs and Ideas series to engage the community around areas of general interest, break bread with neighbors and provide information about social services available in your own backyard! The brunch will be hosted by Andy Pollin on December 16 at Clyde’s of Tyson’s Corner. Andy Pollin is a longtime D.C. sports-radio fixture who recently brought back his signature “Sports Reporters” franchise to weekday mornings on SportsTalk 570. You can find out more information about the event here.
Courtney D. Sharpe is a world traveler who has spent extensive time in the Middle East studying, traveling and working with the Peace Corps. She is a graduate of Northwestern University where she pursued a double degree in International Studies and Religion.