Does philanthropy run in the family? For many in the Akron Jewish community, giving is an obligation, not an option. Giving back to the community is a value passed down from previous generations, which the following women can attest to.
Magita Willen says both her family and her husband’s family have warm memories of growing up in Akron and using the facilities like the Shaw JCC. They believe in “giving back” to the community where they had such a wonderful childhood. Magita and her mother-in-law Sybil Willen are Lions of Judah in support of the Jewish Community. Lion of Judah is a national program for women, which represents the highest levels of giving.
Another Lion of Judah, Kathy Sands, says that she and her husband David both grew up in philanthropic homes and that tzedakah “was just something you did.” She adds, “We didn’t ask each other ‘do you think we should do this?’ It was ‘how much should we give?’ ”
Setting an example of generosity is very important to women; they want to be a role model to the younger generation when it comes to philanthropy. Magita Willen says because she and Sybil Willen believe in tzedakah, she hopes, by example, her children will do the same.
Dianne Newman endowed her Lion of Judah so her donation to the Jewish Community Board of Akron will continue into perpetuity. It is important to her that her gift will affect Jewish life in Akron and around the world beyond her lifetime.
Once a woman is dedicated to an organization, she is a valuable asset to any non-profit organization giving her time and money. While Kathy Sands and her mother-in-law Harriett Sands are both Lions of Judah, women’s role in the workforce has affected volunteering. Kathy recalls that Harriett was very hands-on in the Akron Jewish community, always hosting lunches in her home to benefit Jewish causes. Because Kathy works outside the home, she does not have the same amount of time as her mother-in-law to devote to volunteering but notes, "As my family has grown and work slows down, my husband and I hope to be more involved with volunteerism.”
Dianne Newman, who is a past president of both Jewish Family Service and The Jewish Community Board of Akron, feels very strongly about involvement in organizations to which you contribute. She wants her daughters and granddaughters to understand that Jewish life matters in both our cities and towns as well as world-wide, and you can achieve the best quality of life for now and future generations when you both contribute and volunteer.