Federation Report: Annual Campaign donors answer the call

By Rabbi Reuven Bulka and Aviva Ben-Choreen, Co-Chairs, Jewish Federation of Ottawa Annual Campaign

This column is shared with you in a somewhat different fashion. I, Rabbi Bulka, will start, the middle section is an update, and the close is by my Campaign Co-Chair Aviva Ben-Choreen.

It has been a privilege and delight to work on the Jewish Federation of Ottawa’s Annual Campaign with Aviva over the past year. I have been continually impressed by her dedication, energy, and insights. We at Federation headquarters are immensely grateful to Aviva for the tremendous difference she has been for the Campaign. Kol Hakavod, Aviva!

Campaign update – what a successful year!

It is with gratitude and community pride that we share the great success of this year’s Campaign. Our generous donors rose to the call and helped us match the $500,000 Challenge Fund by either making a new gift or increasing past donations. The result is an additional $1 million in funding for our community. Because of this success, the Challenge Fund was boosted by another $50,000 and we are on the way to match that funding as well!

To give you a deeper understanding of the Campaign’s success, here are some numbers: There were 909 new or increased gifts; 56 per cent of donors increased their gift, which lead to a 23 per cent increase in Campaign fundraising, giving us a total raised so far of more than $5.1 million and growing!

These dollars are having an immediate impact. For example, last summer’s Golf Tournament raised $51,000 for special education – money already put to use in our Jewish days schools.

At Torah Day School, the funding went to create a hybrid Behaviour Specialist and Kindergarten assistant position. This specialist works directly with students with high needs who require individual attention. We have learned firsthand from the school’s educators that these efforts are already making a difference in the students’ progress.

Meanwhile, the Ottawa Jewish Community School will be using the funding to launch two significant initiatives. The STAR Reading program focuses on early identification of reading disorders along with possible interventions. The school will also acquire much-needed furniture and devices that make a huge difference to students with special needs, including voice-to-text devices, sound-cancelling headphones, special chairs and desks.

We will soon be announcing more exciting initiatives to fuel the Jewish Superhighway, including a micro-grants project and an incentive to support new members in joining a synagogue and the Soloway Jewish Community Centre.

Thank you for your support!

The past two years of co-chairing the Campaign have flown by. I had wonderful examples before me in Sharon Appotive and Michael Polowin, who helped me find my feet at what was a daunting task. I’ve learned so much about our community, from the amazing generosity, the wonderful volunteers, and the dedicated staff. Rabbi Bulka has been an amazing fundraising companion and much of this year’s success is due to his efforts.

Campaign provides funding that builds community, helps the vulnerable, educates Jewishly, and supports Israel. Without Federation acting as a communal resource, individual agencies would face a more difficult job. Federation gives our community more depth and reach, and connects us to other Jewish communities, so we can pool knowledge and share experiences to bring best practices to our city.

All of this is made possible by you. Your contributions of time, effort and donations, give Ottawa a strong, compassionate, Jewish community. It is so true that many hands make the load lighter. If you would like to become more involved, be sure to reach out. New canvassers are always deeply appreciated!

If you have yet to donate, please take advantage of the increase in the matching fund and double your impact with a new or increased gift today. Visit www.JewishOttawa.com, or call 613-798-4696, ext. 270, or to donate. And to all the many who have already donated, thank you for an amazing Campaign response!