Welcome to the annual meeting of our NCJW Southern Maine Section. Welcome to the scholars and their families who have supported them in their academic and extra curriculum achievements. Welcome members. It is the strength of our membership for over 90 years that allows us to present so many scholarships in these days of steeply rising costs for post high school education.
Thank you Past Co-President Ginny Squires-Eklund for delivering that moving Invocation.
It has been my privilege and pleasure to serve as your President this year. Our section has had an unusually successful year, thanks to the hard work of our energetic and supportive Board and you, our members. We have achieved all of the goals I outlined in my acceptance speech last year.
We revised our by-laws to fit within National’s guidelines, as well as meeting the requirements of our bank. This allowed us to update who was able to sign checks and reinvest CD’s as they renewed following the untimely death of our late Treasurer, Jackie Maidman. Additionally we are spending time at each Board meeting reviewing our budget to enable all the members to understand the need for income in order to underwrite our ongoing and new community service projects.
We established an investment advisory committee to oversee the management of our significant endowment funds which have been specifically allocated by their donors for our scholarship program.
The Board initiated a new service project directed towards food insecurity — which is defined as people not knowing where their next meal is coming from. Maine is unfortunately the least food secure state in New England as well as one of the more food insecure states in the country. We offered two programs on this issue for the community — one co-sponsored by NCJW and Temple Beth El, and the other in partnership with Lift 360, formerly the Institute for Civic Leadership.
Thanks to the donation of significant pro bono time by the Vreeland Agency and through the considerable efforts of Marcy Black, we moved into the 21st Century with the development of our Section’s website. Marcy has continued to update our website diligently, but would really like a member to volunteer to be our webmistress in the coming year.
We added several new members, as well as two new life members.
Our section held a panel discussion which was open to the public on the issue of human trafficking in Maine. This issue is National’s priority issue for the current triennial.
We continued our program of delivering backpacks loaded with school supplies to all kindergarteners in three Portland public schools, and we responded to a request that we supply members to read with children at Reiche School and to assist in math class.
Lastly, we continue to support the Family Crisis Program by supplying toiletries and underwear for each new resident at the Portland Shelter.
Occasionally things happen serendipitously. Many of you may have seen the articles in the Press Herald this winter telling the story of House Island in Casco Bay. When the United States government closed Ellis Island and Boston to immigrants, House Island became a place of disembarkation. A Portland native, Jo Israelson, who is an installation artist and lives “away,” contacted NCJW when she learned that in its very first year in 1922, our NCJW Section supplied Kosher meals to those Jews who were detained on House Island. Jo examined our archives and our Section will be featured in her exhibition “Welcoming the Stranger,” which opens at the Maine Jewish Museum on September 3rd. We will be sponsoring the opening.
But that is not all; Jo connected us with Susie R. Bock, Head of Special Collections and Director of the Sampson Center for Diversity in Maine at the University of Southern Maine Libraries. The Board voted to have all of NCJW’s extensive records dating back to 1922 permanently archived at the Sampson Center. This means all our materials will be correctly preserved for the use of students, faculty and researchers, while our Section retains title to all the material. Our section will bear none of the cost for this service and may continue to add to the archive. Therefore, I ask all of you who have been active over the years to please search your basement and attics for any NCJW material which you may have. If you let me know you have something, we will pick it up and deliver it to the Library.
As you can see, it has been a busy and exciting year.
What are our goals for the year ahead?
To increase our membership by 20 percent, particularly with an aim to gaining younger members who will be involved with our current projects and assist in finding new activities for our Section. Think how powerful we would be if each member brought in one new member. I challenge each of you to do so.
To ensure continuity of leadership in future years.
To find members to fill the following positions: Fundraising, Webmistress, Programming and a chair for the Food Insecurity Committee.
To find a fundraiser which will support our many programs and be replicable in future years.
To explore whether our Section should establish an Endowment Fund dedicated to supporting our Section’s operating Budget.
Now it is my pleasure to welcome, Scholarship Chair Barbara Peisner to present our students with their Scholarships. We are proud to congratulate each of you on your achievements and on your potential.
President Lynn Goldfarb
June 10, 2015