$1M Gift Benefits Hebrew Shelter Home

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Beachwood couple’s $1M gift benefits Hebrew Shelter Home

Lois Davis with her husband, Larry, in the mid-1990s. Larry Davis died in 1999.

Article reprinted with permission from Cleveland Jewish News.

By Ed Wittenberg

The Hebrew Shelter Home has become an important part of Lois Davis’s life.

“It’s because I grew up a treasured child and was a loved wife,” Davis said. “I was very fortunate to have been taken care of with love all of my life.

“Here (at the Hebrew Shelter Home), there are people who weren’t as lucky as I was, and I want to help them.”

That’s why Davis, of Beachwood, has established a $1 million endowment fund to support the Hebrew Shelter Home. Managed and administered by Jewish Family Service Association of Cleveland, the home provides temporary shelter in a kosher setting for women and children in the Jewish community facing homelessness and domestic violence.

Working with the Jewish Federation of Cleveland and JFSA, a partner agency of the Federation, Davis set up the fund to annually support the home’s capital improvements and programming for families there.

Davis, a Cleveland native, said she hopes The Lois J. and Larry Davis Family Endowment Fund – named after her and her late husband – will inspire others to join this effort and help raise the endowment to $3.5 million, which would significantly reduce the need for annual fundraising for the home.

“The location of the home has to be kept secret (to ensure the safety of those who stay there), so donors cannot visit, nor can they meet the recipients of the home’s services,” she said. “That makes it difficult to spread the word about the needs and to raise necessary funds.”

Larry Davis, who was a real estate developer, died in 1999. The money used to establish the endowment came from funds he left Lois Davis through his estate.

“This is a wonderful, important thing that we have in the Jewish community,” Davis said of the shelter home. “I’m so proud of the work they’re doing now.”

That wasn’t always the case. When Davis was originally asked to support improvements to the home in 2003, when it was located on Taylor Road in Cleveland Heights, she was disappointed in the home’s condition, she said.

“When I saw the home they had, I felt it had to be changed for the modern day,” she said.

But while Davis expressed hesitancy to donate for the original purpose, she offered to make a more substantial gift if others could be inspired to join her in the effort to build a newer, safer and more comfortable Hebrew Shelter Home.

Since 2008, when the current home opened, more than 300 people have found safety and support there. JFSA staff members help the women and children heal from trauma and connect them to appropriate social services as they begin to build safe and independent lives.

“They take care of them at the shelter and help them get their feet on the ground, so they’re able to move on with their lives in a productive way,” Davis said. “When they leave the shelter, they go into an apartment setup the shelter has, and they can live independently there before they go out on their own.”

Davis said Ginny Galili, executive director of JFSA Families at Risk, and Grant Dinner, Hebrew Shelter Home board chair, have brought the home forward and helped make it what it is today.

“This is a transformational gift that will provide support for the most vulnerable women and children in our community for years to come,” Dinner, also a member of the JFSA board executive committee, said in a press release. “We are grateful for Lois’s desire to lead by example and hope that her wish for others to join will be fulfilled.”

Anyone interested in joining the effort to support the Hebrew Shelter Home should contact Karen Leizman Moses at JFSA at kmoses@jfsa-cleveland.org or Carol Wolf at the Federation at cwolf@jcfcleve.org.

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