My name is Susan Adolf and I am a born and raised Richmonder. I’ve had the good fortune to watch the example of those around me who gave to the community. I must have paid attention, because I see myself giving back as so many others did years before me.
I first got into the giving mode when I attended a Club 6 meeting at the JCC when I was 10 years old. Bea Fine came in and talked about Tzedakah and how the Federation raises money to help Jews all over the world and in Richmond. So I gave. Not much, but I gave and never stopped.
When my own children were old enough to give, I made sure that they received a phone call every year from one of my contemporaries and they gave and they still do today. Now my grandchildren set up lemonade stands to raise money and it all goes into their Tzedakah box. They are learning to give too.
I’ve always loved volunteering in the Jewish community and especially for anything to do with our youth. Over 11 years ago, I persuaded Federation to let me educate our young people about the campaign and Federation, like I was educated when I was their age.
Federation gave me the resources to visit every Sunday School, RTA, BBYO and Hillel and educate them about the giving process. Year after year I would speak to these young people, in grades 5 – 8, and the feedback from them was amazing. We discussed where the money went and why - they saw videos of people in need in Ethiopia, on Birthright missions, and how the JDC distributed aid to Jews around the world.
The first year we raised about $300 just from Tzedakah collections and donated the funds to buy sports equipment for a school in our sister city in Israel. At that time it was Emek Hefer. Our youth saw the fruits of their labors. They saw kids who looked just like them now playing basketball or soccer with real equipment. We’ve done food drives as a form of giving but mostly it is the giving of time that I’ve been able to share with these great leaders of our future.
Another passion of mine is the PJ Library. Over 230 children in the Richmond area get free books or CDs in the mail monthly that educate and entertain with fabulous Jewish content. My own granddaughters love it when there is something in the mailbox for them. This is another way our Federation can give and see the children blossom. Whether reading these PJ Library books at Barnes & Noble, or in the JCC lobby during Purim, it was a treat for me more than the kids.
Lastly, I was fortunate enough to chair the Women’s Division of the Federation Annual Campaign these last two years. To meet so many giving women, not just of their dollars but also of their time and effort in soliciting others, made me a better person. I was able to see first-hand the impact we can make on our community, our country and the world.
Giving is a privilege we are all capable of. Giving allows us the confidence to ask others to give. Our Federation works hard day in and day out to give back to our community and working as a volunteer gives me hope for a better life for our children and their children.