Ensuring Support for Vulnerable Jewish Women and Children

Tags: Planned Giving, Charitable Giving

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Hebrew Shelter Home (HSH) not only provides a safe haven for Jewish women and children, but also a warm Jewish home with Shabbat dinner every week. For women who have fled domestic violence or find themselves homeless for other reasons, HSH provides a big, warm community hug saying loudly, “you are not alone.” This important facility offers a supportive home for women and children in need at no cost. However, HSH requires substantial donor support on an annual basis to keep it going.

Lois Davis first learned about the HSH in 2003 when she was asked to contribute funds for improvements to the home at its former location. Before making the commitment, she asked to visit. What she found there was upsetting to her – the home was in disrepair. Disappointed in the conditions, but very impressed with Ginny Galili, then HSH Director, Lois expressed her hesitancy to give for the original purpose. Instead, she offered to make a more substantial gift if others could be inspired to join her in the effort to create a new, safer, more comfortable HSH.

Lois & Larry z"l Davis

Several community members joined the effort and a newer, larger HSH was created. Once the home was completed, Lois started supporting it annually with substantial gifts that helped keep it warm and welcoming. One year she donated the funds to create a playroom for the children, and the next, made it possible to renovate the resident manager’s suite.

Lois wanted to create a more permanent way to continue her support of the Hebrew Shelter Home to ensure that any Jewish woman in crisis would have a safe, Jewish place to go. Working with the Jewish Federation of Cleveland and JFSA, Lois established the Lois J. and Larry Davis Endowment Fund of the Jewish Federation, which provides an annual distribution to support the home’s capital improvements and programming for families who are homeless and/or victims of domestic violence. Lois chose to honor her deceased husband, Larry, by including his name in the fund, which makes her feel great.

“In order to ensure the safety of the Hebrew Shelter Home, donors cannot visit, nor can they meet the recipients of the home’s services, making it difficult to spread the word about the needs and raise necessary funds,” Lois Davis said. Because she cannot meet the clients, Ginny, now Executive Director of Strengthening Families at JFSA, shares many stories of the clients’ successes with Lois.

The HSH’s current resident manager was herself a client several years ago. She came to HSH when she was on the brink of homelessness due to medical bills from having cancer. The support she received was beyond what she could have imagined, and once she was back on her feet, earning an income and living independently, she continued to give back to HSH donating food and other gifts to the residents. When a spot opened up for a residential manager, she gave it a try and is now employed in that position at the home. Her story is just one example of how HSH has turned lives around for the better.

Although the Davis Endowment Fund does not cover the entire HSH budget, it certainly lightens the burden on its staff for annual fundraising. This annual distribution, which should grow each year due to the invested principal, is something the HSH can count on every year in perpetuity.

“It is my responsibility and my privilege to give a gift that will endure long after I am gone. As my parents taught me, so do I hope that this gift will inspire my family to carry on the value of tzedakah and to take care of our Jewish community for future generations.” – Lois Davis

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