Honoree: Team JCC Cares
Team Members: Nancy Chase, Caryn Altman, Julie Sherman,
Honored by: WISEPlace
Cause Area: Hunger & Homelessness
“Tikkun Olam” is a Jewish concept defined by acts of kindness, performed to perfect or repair the world. The phrase is often used when discussing issues of social policy, insuring a safeguard to those who may be at a disadvantage.
JCC Cares is the social action club of the Merage Jewish Community Center dedicated to performing Tikkun Olam and Gemilut Hasadim (acts of loving kindness). Spear-headed by Nancy Chase, JCC Cares organizes Jewish community members of all ages to participate in volunteer opportunities throughout Orange County.
WISEPlace has been the lucky and grateful recipient of years of support from JCC Cares. On January 15, JCC Cares organized and executed their 6th annual It’s All About You event, a day dedicated to bolstering the self-esteem of area homeless women living in transitional housing. The brainchild of Caryn Altman, and co-led by Julie Sherman, over 50 volunteers and employees from area health and beauty businesses provided free haircuts and styles, manicures, massages and facials to over 100 local homeless women. The day included homemade lunch, personal shopping assistance and pampering. Organizers even included a give-back opportunity for participants! Women receiving services could make dog toys that were donated to an Orange County animal rescue. While this is only a one-day event, the clothing donations roll in yearlong and are stored and organized by JCC Cares, alleviating WISEPlace of any collections or maintenance. That alone is such an undertaking.
This year, Christmas was also organized and led by JCC Cares! Over 20 volunteers arrived at 8 a.m. Christmas morning with carloads of food, decor and holiday cheer to help make the holiday special for our residents, who oftentimes find this a difficult time of year. Volunteers prepped, decorated, served breakfast and acted as little elves, delivering over 100 gifts to the 30+ residents and alumni in attendance. JCC Cares has asked to be the proud host of Christmas morning breakfast moving forward … hopefully for years to come!
Individual members of JCC Cares also play a critical role in the programming aspect of WISEPlace, volunteering as career coaches, presenting at weekly group meetings and delivering weekend meals to residents while staff are away.
Finally, and most importantly, JCC Cares is an advocate for WISEPlace throughout the community. We receive a lot of outreach from people who have heard from a club member about the work we do for unaccompanied homeless women in Orange County and also would like to contribute in some way. This is so critical for our capacity building.
JCC Cares plays such a large role in assisting those less fortunate across the entire community. WISEPlace is lucky to have such advocates in the club as well as the individuals and families who continue to support the work we do outside of the club. We would be at a huge loss without their creativity, engagement and relentless support of our residents, staff and programming.
At a recent sit-down with Nancy Chase, she reminded me of their mission. “Our group is not about fundraising, it’s about doing.” This resonates loudly and clearly. It’s hard to find people who are willing to be do’ers. And not just casual do’ers, but committed do’ers. This is JCC Cares.