The Jewish Federation of Rockland County is gearing up for Super Sunday, and organizers says the event is as much about coming together as a community as it is about fundraising.
The daylong Super Sunday is set for Jan. 27, with the first shift running from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. From 11:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m., there will be a PJ Library program with crafts, characters, and tzedakah-related stories for families with young children. There is no afternoon shift, and calling resumes with an evening shift beginning at 5:30 p.m.
Diane Sloyer, executive director of the federation, said the event is part of the annual campaign to raise money for local needs as well as Israel and around the world. The federation hopes to raise more than $75,000 at the Sunday phone-a-thon, she said. Last year’s annual campaign brought in $750,000 and Super Sunday raised about $60,000 of that amount.
The day is also one in which the federation is also looking to increase its donor base. “The more donors you have, the more people you have involved,” Sloyer said.
Involvement is what the federation is all about. The funds raised are distributed primarily to various local organizations each year, as well as to programs in Israel and overseas. Jewish Family Service, JCC Rockland, Rockland Hillel and the Holocaust Museum & Study Center all receive some core funding and additional grants from the federation, which also provided special grants to local synagogues.
In addition to raising funds, Super Sunday is a time for organization and its supporters to come together for the cause, and to create some community buzz, Sloyer said. “It’s not just about fundraising, it’s about coming together as a community,” Sloyer said. “It’s an all-around fun day.”
Making phone calls and soliciting donations may be a little intimidating, but volunteers are trained on how to make the calls, and how it feels to be called.
“All those who solicit are asked to make a commitment, as well, so you know how it feels to be asked,” said Libby Becker, a federation board member and Super Sunday volunteer. “It can be hard to make the call, but we try to make it easier.”
Becker said Super Sunday was her introduction to the federation. “It’s often an entry point into the organization,” she said. “It’s exposes people to what we do and how we do it. It was my introduction, and it taught me a lot.”
Not that Becker is new to phone-a-thon events. “When I was young, my mother schlepped me to the Jerry Lewis Telethon,” she recalled. “Her friend was the coordinator, and I loved it. It was so much fun. Jerry Lewis isn’t around for Super Sunday, but we have fun and, believe me, we have our characters, too.”
Becker, who co-chaired the event last year with Beth Dubas, said this year’s committee includes about 10 people, and they are trying to get more teenagers involved. Her own son came to last year’s Super Sunday, and walked away with a much better understanding of what it is his mother does every year. Every year also sees a number of senior citizens getting involved.
“The committee has a good time and we really build our friendship network from Super Sunday,” Becker said.
Sloyer called Super Sunday an “impactful way to bring the community together for something good.” Last year, there were more than 100 volunteers, including Sydnie Weinberger, who just turned 13. Her mother, Andrea, is a federation board member.
“I got into it because I knew it would make a difference in my Jewish life,” the young teenager said. “It can make you feel a little nervous to make the phone calls, but you get used to it.” She added that although there generally are not many teenagers involved, she hopes that will change as others follow her example.
As with many charitable organization, the federation has seen its fundraising shrinking during the past few years as the economy remained sluggish. The organization has also struggled to redefine itself, restructuring from giving core allocations to a few agencies, to opening up the process through grants for which synagogues and other organizations may also apply. This has meant a diminution of core funding. At the same time, the federation has restructured itself, scaling back its education department, and shutting down the Rockland Jewish Reporter.
The federation campaign was touted by the organization to be as high as $1.2 million as recently as five years ago, but has dropped by nearly 40 percent since then. Sloyer declined to give a fundraising goal for the 2013 campaign.
“Our goals this year are to increase both the donor base and that pledges to the campaign,” she wrote in a follow up email.
Financial challenges notwithstanding, federation volunteers are looking forward to Super Sunday.
“It’s important for all of us to make a difference,” Sydnie Weinberger said. “That’s why we do it.”
|SuperSunday – January 27|
|Morning shift: 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
PJ Library fun: 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Evening shift: 5:30 p.m.
For information or to sign up call (845) 362-4200