When Donna and Bernie Dolansky moved to Ottawa in 1973, they only knew a handful of people. Volunteering within Ottawa’s Jewish community was the gateway to forming many friendships that are still going strong 43 years later. My siblings and I grew up in the cradle of this community. Now my sister and I find ourselves sharing the community with our own husbands and children as the torch is being passed (though my parents haven’t quite let go of it yet). So the Jewish Federation of Ottawa Annual Campaign theme this year is particularly apt for us: Our Community, Our Responsibility, Our Future.
We are honoured to be named as co-chairs of the Kickoff to the 2017 Annual Campaign – Bernie and Donna Dolansky, Gillian (née Dolansky) and Neil Presner, and my partner Grant Overland and I. My sister’s family and my own are so grateful to the visionaries of our parents’ generation who built and sustained our community and now we’re seeking the support and partnership of those who will carry it into the future.
We wanted to do something different for Kickoff this year: to appeal to the steadfast core of community donors with a strong and inspiring keynote speaker, but also include young families whose time and energy are so consumed with balancing careers and children. And so, we thought – why not have two events?
We designed the day with our own families in mind.
On September 18, there will be a Judy and David concert for my three little nieces (with snacks! My sister was very insistent on snacks) at 3 pm in the gym of the Ottawa Jewish Community School. Nancy Spielberg will speak at 7 pm at the Soloway Jewish Community Centre, and her documentary film, “Above and Beyond,” will be shown for my teenagers and those of us adults who can stay up past 9 pm – so that every generation can be touched and inspired to be part of this dynamic, generous, and strong community in which we are so fortunate to live.
The Federation has been making great efforts to bring the emerging generation into the fold so that the community can remain as strong as it has been in the past. There is now a core of younger people – like my sister and brother-in-law – who are becoming increasingly involved in community causes. But not everyone has the financial ability, or the time, to give to the community. One particular message that I personally would like to bring to the campaign this year, is that every little bit counts. We don’t all have the resources our parents did, but that doesn’t mean we can’t help: $36 subsidizes one child to attend day camp for a day; $120 provides one counselling session for a bullied child or child in crisis; $216 supports one Tamir participant in their therapy program; $280 provides feeding assistance at Hillel Lodge for one week.
Same with donating time: a little time can make a big difference. My son’s intermittent volunteer work at Tamir made a significant difference in the lives of the people he worked with, as well as positively influencing his own sense of responsibility and ability to help others.
The Federation is grateful to all of our donors, big and small, for the time and money you contribute to sustaining and strengthening our community. We hope you will all join us at Kickoff on September 18 to celebrate all we achieve with your donations, and to help us look forward to another year of giving.
Tickets are available at jewishottawa.com. The afternoon event is $10 per household. The evening event is $10 per individual or $20 per household. For more information, contact Rena Garshowitz at 613-798-4696, ext. 241, or firstname.lastname@example.org.