Our community service committees and volunteers are all actively involved in their various activities and enjoying the pleasure that comes from giving back to our community. The following is a synopsis of the many community service projects in which our Section is currently involved.
HEARING SCREENING OF PRESCHOOLERS
This continues to be a very successful program. Last year new audiometers were purchased and our volunteers were trained in their usage. Children are referred to hearing professionals based on their test results. We currently cover Sarasota and would love to expand into Manatee County.
There are three teams of NCJW volunteers who conduct vision screening on preschoolers. This past year committee members were trained in the new standards and certified. Over 400 preschoolers were screened with a small percentage of children being referred for professional care. If you are interested in participating in this community service, we are always looking for new volunteers.
SOMEONE TO TALK TO
This very popular puppet program is presented to first graders in the Sarasota County School System to increase awareness of and identify mental, physical, verbal, and sexual abuse. In 2015 a brand new stage was purchased and last year new more modern full-size, hand-manipulated puppets and a new sound system were added for this delightful production. New puppeteers are always welcome — no experience required, just your inner child.
BEING DIFFERENT IS OKAY
This program continues to be very successful with presentations at 11 preschools/VPK in Sarasota and Venice. We are thrilled to announce that our program will be expanding to all the VPK classrooms in the Manatee School District this year. The goals are to teach a lesson on diversity covering the Social/Emotional/Communication and Emergent Literacy Standard guidelines for the State of Florida 4-year-olds programs.
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 welcomed for our expansion this year.
Hope House is a longstanding community service endeavor. Hope House is a safe house for abused women and children. In the past we have supported this organization with donations of pillows, blankets, night-lights, towels, baby clothes, diapers, pajamas, sanitary products, and any other items that women and children need.
Donated funds were used exclusively for the purchase of bus tickets to job interviews, as employment can be the first step towards a new life away from an abuser.
The Home Instruction for Parents of 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 a monetary donation for books and other supplies.
BLANKEE BEE SPREADS WARMTH
2014 brought a new community service project to our section – – the Blankee Bee Project. This project involves our members in making no-sew fleece blankets to be given to children and adults undergoing infusion therapy and those in need of comfort and a Hug.
The first recipients of our blankets were the children involved in the Manatee Community Action Agency’s Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY), a program that NCJW has long supported. Various needy children, residents of Anchin Pavilion, and cancer patients undergoing infusion therapy at the Florida Cancer Center have also received blankets.
The Blankee project received press coverage in several local newspapers with a wonderful headline, “NCJW spreads warmth through crafted blankets”.
Join us in this rewarding project, make new friends, and have a fun time. You’ll get to know our members and have a warm, “fuzzy” feeling when you complete your first blankee. The Blankee Bees are held generally on the first Monday of the month at the Jewish Federation from 10:00 a.m. to noon.
NCJW Scholarship Program annually recognizes and promotes education for “non-traditional” students. 2017 was our 17th award presentation and 7 deserving students were awarded monetary gifts to help them achieve their educational goals at a beautiful brunch on the campus of New College of Florida in Sarasota.
We are greatly appreciative of our donors who include the Yanowitz Family Scholarship, the Schoenbaum Family Scholarship, Geri Aaron Scholarship, Canandaigua Bank Scholarship, Publix Supermarkets Charities, Norma and Albert Cohen Scholarship, Helen Schusterman and Albert Samuel Morrison Women’s Scholarship, and the NCJW Scholarship. If you would like to participate on this most rewarding committee; please contact Cindy Solomon at firstname.lastname@example.org or Anita Knisbacher at email@example.com.
The Community Service teams 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.