For the past several biennial conventions, Women’s League has undertaken chesed projects in support of organizations in or near its convention host city or region. In 2006, we provided pillows and toiletries for victims of abuse at the Laurel House in Philadelphia. In 2008, our members handcrafted more than 15,000 hats, gloves and scarves for distribution to the homeless in Detroit. And in 2010 we presented every child in pre-kindergarten and third grade in the Baltimore City public schools with his or her own age-appropriate reading book, 11,000 books in total! The outpouring of generosity and effort by our sisterhoods and members has just been astonishing.
It did not take the planning committee long to come up with an appropriate project for the 2012 convention being held in Las Vegas, December 2-5. Contemporary events have provided an important and urgent need: supporting the large number of veterans of two wars returning home with disabilities and permanent impairments. With this in mind, the members of Women’s League will be assisting veterans and their families who are residents of the West Los Angeles Fisher House.
Fisher Houses are recent establishments that support America’s military and their families beyond what is provided by the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs. Fisher Houses are found on the grounds of military and VA medical centers for easy access by the servicemen and women who, together with their families, must travel great distances for specialized medical care. These homes provide housing – at no cost – during hospitalizations for any illness, disease or injury. The West Los Angeles facility was selected as the closest to Las Vegas (and both Los Angeles and Las Vegas are in the Women’s League Pacific Southwest Region). Last year this Fisher House served 652 families in its 21 suites. You can learn about the facility at www.fisherhouse.org.
For the servicemen and women who must suffer through lengthy hospitalizations following their tours of duty, travel and living expenses to access care can be daunting. Through Value Our Vets, Women’s League sisterhoods, individual members, and family and friends will provide gift cards for local grocery stores, restaurants, and pharmacies to help defray some of the living expenses. These gift cards will be a small token of our respect and gratitude for those who have contributed so much.
The local merchants, selected by the director of the West LA Fisher House, are CVS, Rite-Aid, Subway, Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonald’s, The Cheesecake Factory, The Coffee Bean, Starbucks, Target, and Ralph’s Grocery Store.
The presentation of the gift cards will be a highlight of the convention’s final plenary session on December 5, a session that will feature Rabbi/Colonel Bonnie Koppell, the first female Jewish chaplain in the United States Army Reserves. Value Our Vets cochair Myra Promisel, speaking on behalf of herself and co-chair Ziza Pallia, said: “Buying gift cards is something everyone can do. Ziza and I know that Women’s League members will be as touched as we were by this project and will fully support this effort to make a difference in the lives of veterans.”
You can support veterans of the Canadian armed forces with contributions to the Military Families Fund that can be accessed through the Canadian Forces Personnel and Family Support Services at www.cfpsa.com.
If you would like to contribute to Value Our Vets, checks, or gift cards to the listed vendors can be sent to Women’s League for Conservative Judaism, 475 Riverside Drive, Suite 820, New York, New York 10115, or you can donate online at www.wlcj.org. If you have any questions, contact Women’s League Program/Education Director Lisa Kogen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212.870-2156.