What She Didn’t Know She Was Teaching Me: A Valentine for My Mom

When I was little, my mother worked as the membership director of the JCC.  In her role, she’d often help with scholarship needs for families.  I remember her coming home and telling us stories of misfortune over the dinner table.  During one particular year, she was helping a group of Russian immigrants who left with nothing, came with nothing and had nothing.  She helped them secure jobs, got them clothing, furniture and rides.  She arranged for scholarships for their children to attend camp while they got themselves on their feet.  She mentored them (way beyond the scope of the membership director job description).  I remember listening to her stories, but what I didn’t realize at that time, was, what she was teaching me.

I do now.  Today, I helped a family get a new set of bunk beds and a sofa-bed donated to them by a local furniture company.  This is a family of 9, living in 2 bedrooms, including 5 people who just lost their wife or mother.  They need everything clothes, coats, shoes, beds, etc.  So we dreamed big, reached out and got a donation.  Calling this family to deliver the news was the best gift of all.  The delight, the stress-relief, the appreciation was truly heart-warming.  When we have families in need, I often work with my counselor and the local Social Services agency to support families.  I took a trip to Social Services today and came back with $100 with of Target Gift Cards, 3 hand-made scarves and connections to other local clothing outlets.  It takes a community to support one another, way beyond the job description.  I got that from my mother.  It’s what I didn’t realize she was teaching me over stories at the dinner table.  Thanks, Mom.





  1. elsie said,

    February 14, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    Moms teach us so much, but often it isn’t until later years that we can appreciate it. Your mother sounds very special and now you are able to continue the cycle of giving in the community. That’s a valentine for all times.

  2. JenniferM said,

    February 14, 2012 at 10:46 pm

    What a wonderful legacy! Your mom would be so proud to know what she has given you. Together, you have given your community so much!

  3. Stacey said,

    February 14, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    You clearly understand the concept of gimilut hasadim and tzedakah. We teach our children these things by showing and telling, don’t we. Thanks for sharing this story. I’m truly touched by both the recognition of your mom and the wonderful mitzvot you’ve performed.

  4. Linda Baie said,

    February 15, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    Wonderful story and thank you to your mother. And a good one for all of us to remember to reach out to see what we can make happen. Thank you!

  5. Betsy said,

    February 16, 2012 at 2:04 am

    I love that those teachings were so powerful that they are impacting those in your life now.

  6. February 18, 2012 at 10:31 am

    What an important legacy and a wonderful reminder that, as parents, even when we don’t realize it, our kids are watching and listening as we live our own lives.

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