This past month, 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 in Atlanta demonstrate their Tikkun Olam spirit everyday.
During the 72-hour trip, Eisenberger helped volunteers from Second Helpings Atlanta (SHA) unload and deliver 1000 pounds of fresh produce, prepared foods and meats for the food pantry at Malachi’s Storeroom housed in St. Patrick’s Catholic Church. She then joined 450 volunteers to distribute toys and holiday cheer to a room of 750 eager kids with Amy’s Holiday Party, a signature event of Creating Connected Communities (CCC). Lastly, she fit in some professional development with the new GPF Education Outreach Consultant, Atlanta resident Robyn Faintich, founder of JewishGPS LLC.
Founded ten years ago by octogenarian Guenther Hecht as a social action project for Temple Sinai in suburban Atlanta, SHA is today an independent non-profit organization that utilizes more than 300 volunteers to pick up food largely from local supermarkets and some restaurants, 364 days a year (closed for Christmas).
“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 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 and the next year, as a Bat Mitzvah project, organized Amy’s Holiday Party which gathers 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 and The Good People Fund was present and experienced what can only be called an extravaganza. What makes this event even more meaningful is that 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 ago 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 not only receive funding, a combined total of nearly $10,000 in 2014, but mentorship and professional guidance to help them successfully grow and reach their full potential.
While Eisenberger’s trip was busy with events, she was also there to meet and strategize with Atlanta resident Robyn Faintich, who now serves as the Education & 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 in an effort to help guide Jewish organizations in a variety of aspects of Jewish education. Robyn is responsible for the Good People Fund’s new education initiative, Grab ‘n’ Go lessons, created to compliment the existing and available and downloadable curriculum.
“Grab ’n’ Go are tzedakah-based lesson plans that encapsulate a profile of a Good Person, an existing grantee, 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 for free at https://www.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, The Good People Fund, inspired by the concept of repairing the world, responds to significant problems such as poverty, disability, trauma and social isolation, primarily in the United States and Israel. We provide financial support and management guidance for small to medium grassroots efforts. Our grant recipients are leading their non-profits with annual budgets under $500,000 and no professional development staff but are driven and determined 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 in 2008. Further information about Second Helpings Atlanta, Creating Connected Communities, other grantees and all of the education programming, can be found at www.goodpeoplefund.org.