Looking for a Cause? Here Are Four That Matter

Sharp-Dressed Man

ZZ Top and “Duck Dynasty” fans alike should recognize this eponym, thought up as the name for a Baltimore charitable organization by founder Christopher Schafer in 2011. The Fells Point menswear designer (and fan of the bearded rock band) realized he had a recurring dilemma: He was frequently given gently used men’s suits but didn’t know where to donate them. Schafer also saw a need in the community for a suit- donation service for men who were re-entering the workforce following periods of difficulty in their lives.

Sharp-Dressed Man (or SDM), a 501(c)3 charity and initiative of the Baltimore Fashion Alliance and Living Classrooms Foundation, maintains a 10,000-square-foot warehouse in the Kirby-Woolworth building, courtesy of Baltimore City. Each Wednesday, it opens its doors to local men, participants in SDM’s workforce-re-entry partner programs. SDM gives every participant a tailored suit, the option of a haircut by an on-site barber and a complimentary lunch cooked on the premises.

“It’s a really feel-good thing,” Schafer said. “We work with [those who need suits] one at a time, measure them, find out what they like … and then they get to see themselves all suited up. It’s moving.”

Since its inception, Sharp-Dressed Man has suited more than 5,000 local men.

For more information, visit sharpdressedman.org.

Jewish National Fund

Typically thought of in U.S. Jewish communities as “the tzedakah-box organization,” the JNF’s work is about much more than tree planting. The 116-year-old group still aims to maintain a Jewish homeland in Israel, but its efforts in Israel also include support for the special- needs community and water-treatment work.

Though many don’t know it, “most of Israel’s water problems have been solved by JNF,” Daniel Peri, communications associate for JNF’s Mid-Atlantic region, said. Thanks to JNF, Israel is now able to recycle and use for agriculture 85 percent of its “graywater,” water used in appliances, bathtubs and sinks.

JNF also supports the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies in Ketura, Israel, to purify nonpotable water coming from West Bank rivers, then “clean it up on the Palestinian side too,” Peri said. The purification helps prevent disease among Palestinians and Israelis.

JNF makes possible the existence of ALEH Negev, a “rehabilitation village” in southern Israel for disabled Arab and Israeli children and adults. Therapies used onsite include animal therapy and hydrotherapy.

What sets JNF apart, Peri said, is its commitment to using as much of its donation money as possible for programs. “Every dollar goes toward a project. If you want to give and make a difference, [JNF] is the place to do it.”

For more information, visit jnf.org.

The Arc Baltimore

The Arc Baltimore offers local residents a broad array of services in three major areas: employment, community living and outreach and family services.

Specific programs include respite days, when family-member caretakers can get licensed fill-ins to come to their homes so they can rest or do any activity they might normally find difficult while caretaking.

Other projects include “Wings for Autism,” a partnership with Southwest Airlines and BWI Airport that helps expedite the air-travel process for children with autism and their families, and “Art In The Round,” an annual local auction that sells the art of people with developmental disabilities — and gives the artists 60 percent of the proceeds.

“I really enjoy our mission of empowering people with developmental disabilities,” Arc Baltimore director of communications and grants Chris Knoerlein said. “We have an internal saying: ‘Nothing about me, without me.’ We don’t make decisions for people without them.”

For more information, visit thearcbaltimore.org.

Hadassah

It’s no surprise that, as the oldest operating Jewish women’s Zionist organization in the world, Hadassah has a vibrant, 4,000-member-strong Baltimore chapter. What is something of a surprise is the breadth and depth of the Greater Baltimore chapter’s community involvement.

“‘The Power of Women Who DO’ is our motto,” Barbara Fink, acting president for Hadassah Greater Baltimore, said. “We are the women who give, the women who advocate.”

Among the initiatives of Hadassah, which means myrtle in Hebrew and was the Hebrew name of Queen Esther, in Baltimore are:

■   The “Cell-A-Brate” fundraisers, which have raised more than $1 million to date to fund stem-cell research;

■   The ongoing “Check It Out” program, in which Hadassah volunteers and medical personnel visit local high schools to provide students with information on assessing breast and testicular health (the program has thus far saved the life of at least one Baltimore Jewish teen);

■   An annual “Day on the Hill,” when Hadassah members take to Washington to speak to legislators about issues of importance to women and families

For more information, visit hadassah.org.

Anath Hartmann is a local freelance writer.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *