In December of 2014, Naomi Eisenberger, founding executive director of the national tzedakah initiative The Good People Fund (www. goodpeoplefund. org) traveled to Atlanta to experience how two new grantees demonstrate their tikkun olam spirit every day and not just during the holidays.
During the 72-hour trip, Eisenberger helped volunteers from Second Helpings Atlanta (SHA) unload and deliver 1,000 pounds of fresh produce, prepared foods, and meats for the food pantry at Malachi’s Storeroom, housed at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church. She then joined 450 volunteers to distribute toys and holiday cheer to a room of 750 eager kids at Amy’s Holiday Party. Lastly, she ft in some professional development with Robyn Faintich, the Good People Fund’s new education outreach consultant.
Founded 10 years ago by octogenarian Guenther Hecht, as a social action project for Temple Sinai in suburban Atlanta, SHA is today an independent, nonproft organization that utilizes more than 300 volunteers to pick up food, mostly from local supermarkets and some restaurants, 364 days a year.
“To know that Second Helpings Atlanta repeats this entire scenario several times each and every day is astounding,” says Eisenberger. “Even more amazing is the fact that they operate with one part-time employee and a minimal budget. We couldn’t help but wonder why this model couldn’t be developed in so many more places, eradicating or reducing the seemingly impossible problem of hunger once and for all.”
Amy’s Holiday Party is a signature event of Creating Connected Communities (CCC). At the age of 12, Amy Sacks (now Amy Sacks Zeide) was stunned to learn of the theft of holiday toys at a local shelter. She immediately donated some funds to help replace those toys. The next year, as a bat mitzvah project, she organized Amy’s Holiday Party, which brings together kids from local social service agencies and offers them a fun day, ending with the gifting of toys and games. This year’s party was Amy’s 20th; The Good People Fund was present and experienced what can only be called an extravaganza. What makes this event even more meaningful is that the teens who volunteer are responsible for much of what takes place. Amy’s organization, Creating Connected Communities, provides leadership training to local teens, with a curriculum that focuses on homelessness and advocacy. The holiday party is part of the program.
We knew Amy’s story from many years go and were not surprised to finally meet a gracious young woman who hasn’t forgotten how small actions can have a significant impact,” says Eisenberger.
As grantees, both groups receive funding (a combined total of nearly $10,000 in 2014), as well as mentorship and professional guidance, to help them successfully grow and reach their full potential.
While Eisenberger’s trip was filled with events, she also met and strategized with Robyn Faintich, who now serves as the education and outreach consultant to the Good People Fund. Faintich brings over 17 years of Jewish communal professional experience in areas that include youth movements, day schools, community teen initiatives, early childhood education, congregational family education, and adult education.
In August 2010, Robyn launched JewishGPS LLC to help guide Jewish organizations in many aspects of Jewish education. Robyn is responsible for the Good People Fund’s new education initiative, Grab ‘n’ Go Lessons, created to complement the existing curriculum. “Grab ’n’ Go are tzedakah-based lesson plans that encapsulate a profile of a Good Person, an existing grantee, and include interactive discussion guides, a corresponding text study, specialized learning activities and suggestions for hands-on social action engagement,” explains Faintich. “What sets them apart from other modular or instant lessons is that they profile a person or organization doing this good work, today.”
The curriculum and Grab ‘n’ Go Lessons can be downloaded, free of charge, at goodpeoplefund.org/jewish-learning-about-tzedakah/gpf-grab-n-go-lessons.
Faintich has also been instrumental in the increase of GPF’s social media presence.
Founded in 2008 and inspired by the concept of repairing the world, The Good People Fund responds to significant problems such as poverty, disability, trauma, and social isolation, primarily in the United States and Israel. It provides financial support and management guidance for small-to-medium grassroots efforts. GPF grant recipients are leading their non-profits with annual budgets less than $500,000 and no professional development staff, but are driven to make a difference in their communities.
With its guiding philosophy that small actions can have huge impacts and its emphasis on the personal connection, the GPF has raised and granted more than $6 million dollars since its inception.
Further information GPF and its grantees can be found at www.goodpeoplefund.org.