Get involved —Volunteer through our many projects

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Committees and volunteers are all actively involved in their various activities and enjoying the pleasure of giving back to our community. Here are the various community service activities in which our Sarasota/Manatee section is involved.

Hearing Screening of Preschoolers: This continues to be a very successful program for our section. New audiometers were recently purchased and our volunteers were trained in their usage. The children are referred to hearing professionals based on their test results. We currently cover all of Sarasota county.

Vision Screening: There are several teams of Vision screeners who conduct evaluations on preschoolers. Our volunteers are trained in the most up to date standards and are certified to be screeners. Over 400 preschoolers were screened this past year with a small percentage of children being referred for professional care. If you are interested in this community service committee or in hearing screening, we are always looking for volunteers. You may contact the new chairman for vision and hearing screening. If interested, please contact Judy Furman at (941)309-7447 or

Being Different Is Okay: The Sarasota/Manatee section of NCJW holds a patent on this original and entertaining program that is presented at 11 preschools/ VPK in Sarasota and Venice. We are thrilled to announce that we have been granted approval to expand into the Manatee VPK classrooms as well this year. The goal is to teach a lesson on diversity covering the Social/Emotional/Communication and Emergent Literacy Standard guidelines for the State of Florida 4-year-olds program.

Our teams utilize 5 hand puppets who live in the jungle with each representing a challenge: hyperactivity, shyness, visual impairment, physical issues, and non-English speaking. In the interaction the children are asked questions about being different and accepting those who are different. Volunteers are needed and welcome for our expansion this year.

The JANET Project: We are so pleased with The JANET (Jewish Action for Non-Violent Expression of Tweens) Project’s success this year. With donations from various sources made directly to this Project and with proceeds from the Tribute Card program, we were able to sponsor two campers at Camp Mariposa, in the amount of $3,000.00 each.
We also provided the 30 campers with “blankees”, assembled by our members, and finished off by the campers as a craft project. In addition, toiletry items were donated by our members and assembled into individual kits for the campers.

At the last Camp Mariposa session in June, Cathy Markowitz organized a visit with Nan Miller and Lance (Great Pyrenees/Aussie mix) and Beth Holland Glenn and Fuzzy Rogers (Black lab). Lance is a certified therapy dog adopted by Nan. He visits veterans’ clinics, helps out in court, and visits the staff lounge at Sarasota Memorial Hospital and infusion centers.

Beth and Cathy are volunteers at Southeastern Guide Dogs (SEGD). Fuzzy Rogers is an Ambassador Dog for SEGD and also is a certified therapy dog. He and Beth perform public relations “work” for SEGD and also bring relief to hospice patients and their families.

We are hopeful that The JANET Project will remain financially sustainable in the future and that we will be able to provide funding for more campers.

In the words of the Director of Camp Mariposa, Christine Murawski:

“Thanks again for coordinating the dogs to come. The children absolutely loved it and talked about it all weekend!”

Barbara Berkowitz and Myna Stoltz
Co-Chairs, The JANET Project/NCJW

“Someone To Talk To” is a puppet presentation for first graders that gently talks about four different kinds of abuse. As savvy as today’s first graders are, they may be experiencing things which they think are normal but are not. Sometimes things happen that they know are wrong but generate enough fear of continuing consequences that they are too afraid to tell someone. Through the puppets and their conversations, we hope we are able to let the kids know that they need to talk to an adult, a safe adult, who can help them. We present the program in Sarasota County schools on Tuesdays starting in January. Below is a picture of the puppeteers from the 2018 season. You don’t have to memorize anything. We stand behind the curtain, script in hand. We will be doing some updating of one of the scenarios and would love your help if you have recently worked with this age group. The world has changed and so have the things that we need to “talk about.” Your input would be most welcome!

Sound interesting? Please contact me (Debbie Engleson) at if you would like to talk. This is an important community service program that has been serving children for many years. We would love to have you join us!

The Home Instruction of Parents with Preschool Youngsters is a program developed at the Research Institute of Hebrew University and promoted in Israel. It was brought to the United States in the early 1980s by NCJW. The curriculum helps parents expose their children to letter recognition, writing and drawing, early literacy, shapes and colors, and singing and rhyming. A community peer, as a “Home Visitor”, works with the parents, guardians, or grandparents to facilitate this learning experience.

The Sarasota/Manatee section donates backpacks to the graduating 5-year-olds in the Sarasota and Manatee County Programs as they move on to kindergarten and provides monetary donations for books and other supplies.

If interested in being more involved with our H.I.P.P.Y. Activities, please contact Anita Knisbacher at (443)798-8888 or or Bobbi Leibowitz at (402)250-2029 or or Ilene Brett at (941)312-6585 or

The NCJW Blankee Bee Project
The Blankee Bee Project started in 2014. This project has involved our members in making “no sew fleece” blankets.

This NCJW project spreads warmth through crafted blankets; it is like giving a hug to an at-risk child or a person undergoing Chemotherapy. The first recipients of our Blankets were the children involved in the Manatee Community Action Agency’s Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters program (HIPPY). A program NCJW has long supported. Our presentation to these preschoolers was indescribable; we will always remember their faces as they received their Blankees and began to snuggle in them. NCJW also made them for residents of an assisted living facility. Currently we are making the blankets for adults at the Sarasota Memorial Hospital and the Florida Cancer Center infusion centers.

NCJW has worked on a joint venture with Jewish Family & Children’s Services (JFCS) making Blankets for the children at Camp Mariposa, which is funded in part by a grant from the Moyer Foundation and is sustained and managed by JFCS. The children worked on these blankets, for their arts and crafts project, tying knots around the blanket to finish it off.

Come join NCJW as we continue our mission during the summer months in making these soft, cuddly blankets. For further information contact Joan Bour at

Scholarship: NCJW Scholarship Program annually recognizes and promotes education for “non- traditional “ students. This year, 2018 was our 18th award presentation and seven very deserving students were awarded monetary gifts to help them achieve their educational goals at a beautiful brunch at Marina Jacks on the water in Sarasota. The 2019 presentation to the winners will again be held at the end of April at Marina Jacks. All of our section members are invited to attend this heartwarming event.

We are greatly appreciative of our donors who include the Yanowitz Family Scholarship, the Schoenbaum Family Scholarship, the Geri Aaron Scholarship, the Canandaigua Bank Scholarship, Helen Schusterman and Albert Samuel Morrison Women’s Scholarship, Publix Supermarkets Charities, the Norma and Albert Cohen Scholarship, and the NCJW Scholarship. If you would like to participate in this most rewarding committee, please contact Julie Kupersmith at

The Community Service committees make a difference in the lives of the people we serve in our Sarasota and Manatee communities. Join us and share in the joys and mitzvahs of our work.