For Nicole P. Glick and Jennifer Grossman, longtime friends whose paths crossed while working in the nonprofit world, the name Shalom Tikvah says it all. Chosen as the symbolic moniker for their new organization dedicated to helping at-risk children and struggling families, the Hebrew words translate as peace and hope.
On Aug. 2, the two hosted the Shalom Tikvah Pave the Way event at Beth Tfiloh’s Mintzes Theatre to raise funds and awareness about their nonprofit and its mission to support Jewish children facing challenging life and family circumstances.
For Glick, 42, and Grossman, 43, that mission came out of spending time together at Israel’s Orr Shalom, a nonprofit that helps children who have been removed from the family home due to abuse, neglect or other crises.
“They provide intensive supports to families who have children in foster care. And we were so impressed with the way they changed the trajectory of children’s lives, we came home wondering if it’s here in Baltimore,” Glick said. “So we did a sort of community due diligence of what is here and what is missing.”
While Jewish organizations such as The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore and its agenices such as CHANA and Jewish Community Services offer services for abused and neglected children and their families, Glick and Grossman’s community-needs analysis found that “children in the early elementary years are currently the most underserved and most in need of services.” Their study suggested that 7 to 10 percent of K-8 girls would be eligible for a referral to their START Program.
“Shalom Tikvah’s first center will be open to Jewish girls in elementary school (weekdays after school) and in middle school (Sundays) who have been referred through a community partner (synagogue, school, other strategic community agencies) and who are struggling due to stressors within their home,” according to Shalom Tikvah program information. The greatest need was found within the third- to fifth-grade group.
As a licensed psychologist, Glick said she felt like she could never do enough in her private practice to reach all of the children who needed help.
“And that was echoed by all of the schools, all of the rabbis, everyone that we met with, so we learned very quickly that this is a very big unmet need,” Glick said. “If only this existed, we could really change lives. So, we just kept pressing forward.”
More than 200 people attended the fundraiser, which the women initially hoped would bring in 50 or maybe 75 donors.
“The support and the number of people that will be here this evening implied the real need that people very quickly related to,” said Grossman, who has a master’s degree in education and a background in early childhood education and nonprofits.
Shalom Tikvah is to offer the after-school and weekend START Program for third-, fourth- and fifth-grade girls; Family Strengthening Services to support families with counseling and treatment programs; and Bridge Families for children who need to be removed from their homes to keep them safe while the family receives therapeutic intervention.
“And that’s just the beginning,” Glick said. “As we raise money and are able to expand it, we will grow based upon demand.”
“There are so many kids who need us to feel for them, they need us to care about them, they need us to know about them. There are kids in our community without a place to sleep. There are kids without food. There are kids without a loving home.” — Ahuva Heyman
Currently, Glick and Grossman are looking for a suitable small home to rent or buy and said they have a “couple of options in the works.”
However, Shalom Tikvah does not need a building to get started, because the family services work within families’ homes.
The two have a target budget of $180,000 to get started, about half of which had been raised by the night of the fundraiser, according to Glick.
As they move forward, Glick and Grossman are being mentored by JAFCO (Jewish Adoption and Family Care Options), a Florida nonprofit that helps abused and neglected children.
“They have a very similar mission and vision,” Glick said. “Our hope is to grow so that everyone in Baltimore, when there’s a family struggling, Shalom Tikvah is one of the first solutions that they think of.”
Shalom Tikvah is partnering with organizations such as Chai Lifeline, Jewish Caring Network, JTAP, Lev Avos, JCS and small group practices.
The two women said launching Shalom Tikvah will fulfill their dreams of helping children and families, and they are excited by the positive community response.
“The support we’ve gotten from the community has really fueled our motivation to get up and running as quickly as we have,” Grossman said. “A really important part of Shalom Tikvah is building aspiration, not just settling for the status quo.”
“We talked about what we dreamed to accomplish, and it’s not just a temporary fix, it’s not crisis intervention. It’s truly taking families that are struggling and putting them on a path where they feel hopeful and at peace and giving them a brighter future,” Glick said.
Ahuva Heyman and her large family have spent years taking in children who needed help. She told attendees in the Mintzes Theatre that Shalom Tikvah will fill a void in the Jewish community.
“There are so many kids who need us to feel for them, they need us to care about them, they need us to know about them,” Heyman said. “There are kids in our community without a place to sleep. There are kids without food. There are kids without a loving home.”
Holly Gainsboro, a former preschool teacher, now a grief educator, said Glick and Grossman “touched her heart” when she first heard about their plans for Shalom Tikvah.
“There are so many children out there, especially in the Jewish community, that are dealing with a lot of issues and a lot of dysfunction and have no place to go because everything is kept quiet,” Gainsboro said. “Abuse is very hush-hush. It’s kept very quiet, whether it’s mental, physical, emotional or verbal. So I love what they’re doing. I feel very strongly about it.”
For Joe Machiote, being born and raised in Harlem, N.Y., left him sensitive to the needs of children that come from difficult circumstances.
“I was always one of the kids who was identified as the latch-key, the inner-city type kid. So, one of the things I believe in is giving back and finding opportunities for people,” Machiote said.
Bobby Levine of Pikesville said a program such as this is much needed in the community.
“The most important thing is we’re going to bring awareness to a lot of people who don’t understand what is going on. And how much is going on,” Levine said. “It’s not one or two, it’s a lot from what I understand. It has to stop.”
After the program, attendees gathered to personalize paving stones that will eventually be used to pave a path for children entering the Shalom Tikvah home.
For more information or to volunteer or donate, go to shalomtikvah.org.