Of the hundreds of programs we support, this one holds a special place for me because our support isn’t just financial or strategic — we’ve been welcoming interns into our own offices for four years now.
This is the note I received from the mother of a former UJA intern:
Prior to beginning the JCC (Adaptations) Jobs Training Program, my daughter struggled daily trying to find ways to spend her time, feeling lonely, as she longed for friendship and connection to others. The internship program provided her with structure and purpose, giving her an opportunity to learn about different jobs and interact with people working in many different capacities, while helping her to understand the fulfillment that comes with meaningful employment. She developed a strong work ethic and grew emotionally from her connection to her work community and the relationships that she developed there.
And now, what a relief it is for our family to know that she has gainful employment, a place that she is expected to be every day, a place where she is productive…and where she feels needed. It warms my heart each morning as she walks out the door with a smile from ear to ear enthusiastically announcing, “I’m off to work!” or when we all leave for work and she exclaims, “Now we are all working people in this family!” Not a day goes by when we don’t feel truly lucky that she has had this opportunity for employment…a necessary start to building a meaningful and independent life!
I can’t tell you just how much these words moved me. I like to think that this former intern, like all the interns who got their start here, experienced the warmth of a staff I feel blessed to work with every day. (And by the way, if you’re an employer, please consider hiring one of these interns for a permanent job!)
Sometimes we get a note like this or have an in-person experience that reveals just how much our work truly changes lives: Dancing with Holocaust survivors at one of the “coffeehouses” we host at UJA. Welcoming Shabbat with young kids at UJA-supported summer camps, as close as Long Island or as far as Szarvas, Hungary. Hearing the relief in the voice of a single parent who’s secured employment, thanks to a workforce development program we support. Or joining families who come into our buildings — whether on 59th Street, in Westchester, or on Long Island — to wrap presents for other families who are less fortunate, seeing how one generation teaches the next to give back.
As we gather this coming week with family and friends to celebrate Hanukkah — the “great miracle that happened there” — bask in the glow of the many everyday miracles you help make possible right here.
Shabbat Shalom, Happy Hanukkah, and wishing you and your families a healthy, happy, and peaceful New Year!