Why is Legacy Giving So Important? Here’s Why.
As a kid, I spent every day at my J in Milwaukee. I would swim, I would play basketball. I loved being there. My summers were all about JCC day camp and, eventually, Camp Chi. The J was my place to play sports, have fun, and be with friends all summer long. It was an indescribable feeling of connectedness that I began to truly understand and appreciate in my young adult years.
When I was 19, I took a job as a counselor at Camp Chi. In fact, I was the director of water skiing for 5 years—some of the best times of my life. After medical school and residency, I still longed for that connection the guided me through my childhood and teens, so back to the J I went. I joined the Camp Chi Board in the mid-80s, joined the North Suburban Regional Board a few years later and then, in the mid-90s, joined the Board of Directors for JCC Chicago where I proudly serve as chairman today.
JCC roots run deep in our family. My mother-in-law, Darlene Gilford, became involved with the J in the 1970s, eventually became president of the Women’s Auxiliary and devoted much of her time to volunteering and community service. Her daughters, my wife, Cathy, and my sister-in-law, Patti, also share an unbreakable bond with JCC Chicago. Cathy was the co-director at Am Shalom’s Early Childhood Center and Patti, a former Camp Chi staff member, went on to serve on the JCC Chicago Board for nearly 10 years.
Why did I choose to stay involved all these years? I guess you can say because of culture, community and connection. JCC Chicago and Camp Chi, in particular, blend Jewish learning with fun in a way that surpasses words or explanation. The JCC welcomes a diverse group of people who connect to Judaism and Jewish culture in a myriad of ways. This great mix of people coming to the J for varying experiences and builds a deeply connected community in a fragmented world. In early childhood, day camp and at overnight camp, children and young adults can test the waters and push themselves to new limits. Our kids know that JCC programs are wide open to people with and without disabilities and, with this, they learn the lifelong skills of having compassion and an open mind and heart. We are breaking ground and nurturing our future leaders.
We honor tikkum olam and work hard to make sure meaningful scholarships are always available to allow children and adults to take part in JCC programs, who otherwise might not have been able. That is why we committed to a legacy gift to JCC Chicago—to make sure that the JCC is not only a mainstay for the community, but continues to offer innovative programs and experiences that enrich and ultimately change lives. The JCC did that for me and I will be forever grateful.
Written By Ed Atkins
Chairman of the Board, JCC Chicago
JCC Chicago Pomegranate Society Steering Committee Member
Pomegranate Society Donor
The JCC Chicago Pomegranate Legacy Society, part of Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago’s Create a Jewish Legacy program, has proudly secured 18 gifts since the program was developed a few months ago. We are looking to double that number by this summer. If you are interested in learning more about this unique giving opportunity, please contact Ali Friduss at firstname.lastname@example.org