By Shelley Hubal
One of the challenges of living in a small Jewish community is having adequate resources. Our few “big donors” are called on frequently to support a plethora of institutions and initiatives.
However, small-town living has many advantages. There is comfort in knowing you are welcomed and appreciated just for “showing up.” Nobody is just a number. A new baby? Mazel tov! We can’t wait to grow with your family. You have an idea for a program? Yes, we can do that, no problem!
Last year, the generous donors at the Donald Etra Futures Fund gave our community a grant to support our PJ Library program. PJ Library sends free children’s books with Jewish content to Jewish children. It is a great way for parents to teach their children about their Jewish roots and engage the next generation of Jewish people. Because of the Etra Fund gift, we have been able to create a welcoming, engaging space for young families who chose Binghamton to raise their children and enjoy all the benefits of a small Jewish community. Their support has given us some breathing room to say “Yes”: “Yes” to new enrollments and “yes” to programming. All without the worry of where to find the funds.
Since January, our PJ Library enrollment has increased by 14 new children, bringing our total active enrollment up to 84! To reach more families, Federation had an active recruiting campaign. We also partnered with the Jewish Community Center for the community Purim carnival, which had more than 200 people in attendance: We ran out of PJ enrollment forms and swag! This July, we will once again encourage young families to attend our communitywide outing to watch a Rumble Ponies baseball game. Last year, one of our PJ kids thew out the first pitch!
Inspired by the momentum coming from the Etra Fund gift, a generous donor stepped up to give our PJ program a $500 grant. This will have an impact on our budget and give us even more incentive to engage young families without worrying about the cost.
Small communities are often overlooked. We are so grateful that the Donald Etra Futures Fund remembered us. Their choice has given us the confidence to grow.
If you want to find out more about signing up for PJ Library, or wish to make a donation that supports this program, go to www.jfgb.org and click on the “Local and Global Community” and “PJ Library” tabs.