Women Helping Womenby Jacqueline Bull April 25, 2019
The Jewish Women’s Foundation (JWF) is a fund of the Jewish Community Foundation (JCF) and acts as a giving circle. They have a three-year grant initiative and their current initiative (2018-2020) is well underway addressing homelessness, hunger and poverty for Jewish women and girls.
They have about 70 members of Jewish women in San Diego who function as funders and decision-makers.
“It is completely self-run by the members,” Jessica Effress, the chair of JWF said. She described it as “grass roots.”
“I like the fact that we do a lot of research before we make our grants. We are very thorough and we have a process that I’m very proud of,” Jessica said.
“The Jewish Women’s Foundation is the only fund that focuses specifically on helping Jewish women and girls. Members consist of Jewish women of all ages and interests that care deeply about supporting women and girls who need it most. In addition to the collective grantmaking and volunteering opportunities, members and their friends attend social, networking and educational programs provided by the Foundation,” Sarah Schatz, Manager, Philanthropy and Social Impact of the JCF added.
Under the current initiative, they are providing funding to three grantees: Coastal Roots Farm to support their Holocaust survivor food delivery program, G’mach (San Diego Jewish Gift Closet) for their emergency fund and start up funds for Marpeh a program (through Ohr Shalom) that will provide therapeutic yoga and wellness classes.
The grant to Coastal Roots farm doubled the amount of people they were serving and the frequency of when they were receiving the produce. Coastal Roots Farm was able to expand service from 11 to 25 recipients and from delivery once a month to twice a month. Volunteers and staff deliver the produce boxes for the survivors, so they are not only getting the produce, but a friendly visitor.
Jessica explains that with these grants, the Jewish Women’s Foundation had an opportunity to focus geographically; the Coastal Roots Farm grant serves North County, Marpeh serves downtown and G’mach serves everyone.
And, “With this current initiative, it is very important for our council and our members to make these next three years, not only giving of our money, but giving of our time. We’ve made it a point to actually go and get our hands dirty at these different organizations,” Sarah said.
The members toured Coastal Roots Farm and met with Holocaust survivors who are
beneficiaries of the program and they also spent time with G’mach sorting clothes. There will be additional opportunities to engage with each of the grantees by working on the farm or participating at Ohr Shalom, Marpeh.
“I have always liked the women who are involved. It is a group of women who are dedicated to the cause, they are hardworking and willing to give their time and their energy and also their funding because they believe in the mission of the group. It is nice that is is women together for a cause that is dear to them.”
“There is definitely an energy that comes from a group of women,” Jessica said. She explained that some of the members have been in a situation where they needed help or may never know when they may need help in the future.
With the grant cycle every three years, the JWF members keep in touch and have a regular reporting schedule from the grantees. In between they also do outreach and an annual educational event. “Let’s Talk About It” focuses on a topic that may be controversial or not necessarily easy to talk about in an open, safe and supportive forum. The 2019 event addressed the topic of Substance Abuse Disorder.
The JWF has been serving Jewish women and girls since 202 and is always welcoming new members.
“The power of a group of women getting together and women serving women is really the heartbeat of what it is for me,” Jessica said.