Flashback: Evan Goldman

112213_evan-goldman1Evan Goldman, a partner at Goldman & Goldman, P.A. in Lutherville, has philanthropy ingrained in him. The 38-year-old recently won The Associated’s Harry Greenstein Young Leadership Award, which recognized his growth and leadership potential. The award earned him a trip to the Jewish Federations of North America’s General Assembly in Israel. The JT caught up with Goldman to hear about his charitable activities and how he helps others with their charitable endeavors.

JT: Tell us about the scope of your philanthropy.
Goldman: I grew up around charitable giving. When I moved back to Baltimore [in 2000], I did young leadership training through The Associated, and then I joined the National Cabinet and did that for six years. I sit on the board of The Associated — my third term. I sit on the board of the American Jewish Committee.

What philanthropic activities have you taken part in at The Associated?
I’ve done everything from trying to raise money to [tackling] issues related to real estate, to Israel and to working to engage younger community members.

How do you help your clients with their charitable giving?
I help people create charitable trusts, and I help people [determine the causes to which they want to earmark] their charitable giving. I help people put their wishes on paper. I think a lot of people have charitable wishes, and they’re not exactly sure what to do and how to preserve them when they die. We help people, through their wills, to continue their charitable giving when they’re no longer around.

How charitable is the Baltimore community?
I think Baltimore is a thriving, very philanthropic community. It’s hard to say we couldn’t do more, because everyone could always do more. But I think Baltimore is a great community, and the Baltimore community is committed to Jewish causes.

Evan Goldman, with wife Payton, says Baltimore is “a thriving, very philanthropic community.”

Evan Goldman, with wife Payton, says Baltimore is “a thriving, very philanthropic community.”

Were your parents involved in charitable giving when you were growing up?
My parents have always taught me that it’s important to give back and support your community, and they took me to Super Sunday [The Associated’s annual campaign phonathon] when I was a kid and encouraged us [my siblings and I] to get involved. [My wife and I] are doing the best to teach our kids that it’s important to help others and be strong members of the community. My hope is in 20 years someone will be calling [them] about what they have done and how they have been good members of the community.

Marc Shapiro is a JT staff reporter — mshapiro@jewishtimes.com

A Helping Hand

On any one night, approximately 2,638 Baltimoreans sleep in a shelter or on the street, according to 2013 point-in-time statistics from Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s office. In Baltimore City, more than four out of every 1,000 residents are homeless. Of these people, two-thirds are men, and 20 percent are younger than 25.

In a city where more than 22 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, there is a great need for those who have the funds to help. And for the Jewish community, we learn from the Torah the power of the collective to make a difference.

In Exodus 36: 2-5, the Torah describes the construction of the Tabernacle in the wilderness:

“Then Moses summoned Bezalel and Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the Lord had given ability and who was willing to come and do the work. They received from Moses all the offerings the Israelites had brought to carry out the work of constructing the sanctuary. And the people continued to bring free will offerings morning after morning. So all the skilled workers who were doing all the work on the sanctuary left what they were doing and said to Moses, ‘The people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the Lord commanded to be done.’”

As autumn temperatures drop, shelter and support organizers say the need for help among the area’s most poor rises. From coat donations to warm meals, organizations around Baltimore step in to fill the void created by a lack of permanent or stable housing.

In honor of Chanukah, here is a list of eight places in the Baltimore community that support the homeless, organizations that you can work with or contribute to in order to make this Chanukah season more about spreading the light and giving warmth to those in need.

The Baltimore Station
Dedicated primarily to serving veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces, The Baltimore Station describes itself as “an innovative therapeutic residential treatment program supporting veterans and others who are transitioning through the cycle of poverty, addiction and homelessness to self-sufficiency.”

Residents, all of whom are male, begin most mornings at 5:30 with chores and other work before heading to a group breakfast. The rest of the morning is spent in group therapy and acudetox, a therapy that uses acupuncture to calm patients recovering from addiction with the intent of reducing cravings.

Afternoons include group addiction meetings and education sessions, where clients learn to better understand their addictions, before 6 p.m. dinner when, about four nights a week, Director Michael Seipp said, volunteers from the community join the residents to help prepare the food and share a meal.

“What you’re doing is you’re saying to them, ‘Hey, I’m a normal person, I’m doing everything the right way, and I’m giving up two hours of my time or three hours of my time because I think you have value as a human being,’” said Seipp of the effects the volunteers have on the residents going through the program. “That begins to rebuild a sense of self-worth.”

GEDCO
This interfaith organization has partnered with congregations including Baltimore Hebrew, Beth Israel, Beth Tfiloh and Chizuk Amuno to operate programs such as CARES, which provides food and financial assistance to the needy in the Govans neighborhood of North Baltimore, the North East Food Pantry, which provides emergency food relief to the city’s Hamilton and Arcadia neighborhoods, and the Harford House, the Micah House and Shelter Plus Care, all of which are designed to help the city’s homeless find stable housing.

With more than 10 branches, there are plenty of opportunities for GEDCO’s partners to help, but Meghan Peterson, GEDCO’s external relations coordinator, says most people are interested in helping with the food pantries.

“People feel that, since they can do direct service there, they’re probably reaching the most people to serve in the community,” she says.

Since its incorporation in 1991 by seven local pastors, GEDCO’s reception in the community has been extremely welcoming, Peterson says.

“We’re all trying to meet the same mission and goals, which is to help build and serve the community,” she says. “I think that’s something we all have in common.”

INNterim House
The INNterim House, a division of the Interim Housing Corporation, provides women and children with a safe place to stay and a nurturing environment to grow and become self-sufficient. The shelter is located in Pikesville, and spaces are reserved only for women with children.

In addition to offering these families a safe and comfortable dwelling, the INNterim House also offers services such as childcare, meals and access to internships and skills classes.

The organization hosts workshops every other Thursday night, in which volunteers host sessions on things such as financial literacy, first aid and childcare.

“You name it, we have a workshop on it,” says Karla Pitchford, office manager at INNterim.

In addition to adult volunteers, the shelter hosts a number of child volunteers through school programs and families who wish to include their children in their community service. The INNterim residents especially enjoy the chance to interact with the youngest volunteers.

“The kids love it,” says Pitchford. “It’s great.”

Jewish Volunteer Connection
In addition to a number of other services the JVC offers throughout the year, the organization will host its 12th annual Community Mitzvah Day on Dec. 25.

Mitzvah Day 2013 will offer participants the opportunity to assemble 1,500 care packages of hats, scarves, toiletries and other winter necessities that will be distributed to those in need in the Baltimore area via local shelters and resource providers. In addition, participants will have access to other local volunteer opportunities.

“This is a great way for [the congregations that have partnered with the JVC] to build community within their congregations as well as to be a platform for service for anybody, whether they’re affiliated with a synagogue or not,” says Ashley Pressman, JVC executive director.

Community Mitzvah Day also allows JVC to introduce participants to some of the ways they can help their community, she says.

“The Jewish community is very generous with time and with money,” says Pressman. “There’s a tremendous enthusiasm for getting involved and for opportunities to really make a tangible difference.”

Our Daily Bread serves 700 meals per day. (David Stuck)

Our Daily Bread serves 700 meals per day.
(David Stuck)

Our Daily Bread
A soup kitchen that boasts 700 meals served per day, Our Daily Bread, a division of Catholic Charities, serves some of the city’s most needy residents.

“You get that fellowship,” says Chris Kelly, about the difference it makes to sit and talk to the men, women and children who visit the kitchen instead of simply providing them with food and shuffling them through the door. Kelly is an associate administrator in the Community Services Division of Associated Catholic Charities of Maryland.

“We could not run our programs without volunteer participation,” says Kelly.

This participation ranges from youth groups hosting fundraisers and food drives to volunteers serving daily breakfasts and lunches to local congregations cooking several days’ worth of casseroles.

Not only do the organization’s clients benefit from the supportive Baltimore — and Jewish Baltimore — community, says Kelly, but the volunteers also benefit.

Many new volunteers underestimate the extent of the need in the community, he says, noting: “For a lot of folks, it’s eye-opening.”

Jewish Bmore Gives

112213_jewish-baltimore-givesWhether it’s for a new iPad, the just-released Mario game, a diamond choker, a Rolex watch or a shiny new Lexus with a big red bow (if we believe what we see on TV), its seems there’s no limit to what people will shell out on holiday gifts.

Americans have long lamented the commercialization of the holiday season, yet each year, the pressure to spend exorbitantly seems to begin earlier. While it’s true that Chanukah has little in common with Christmas and doesn’t actually call for extravagant gift-giving, American Jews have been part of the commerce-driven holiday season for generations. For better or worse, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are now permanent additions to our collective calendar.

But in 2012, thanks to the 92nd Street Y, a highly respected Jewish organization in Manhattan, a new day and a new movement, with a decidedly less acquisitive mission, is also on the calendar for many, including for people in Baltimore — and Jewish Baltimore.

Giving Tuesday, which occurs right after Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, encourages Americans to give to those in need. On Nov. 27, 2012, 2,500 charities, volunteer organizations, corporations and foundations in all 50 states embraced this philanthropic effort. The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, a founding partner of Baltimore’s Giving Tuesday effort (Bmore Gives More), raised $1 million that day — more than any other
campaign in the country.

Jamie McDonald, president of GiveCorps, a Baltimore startup that combines philanthropy, community activism and technology, estimates that last year’s Bmore Gives More campaign raised between $2 million and $2.5 million on Giving Tuesday [including the funds raised by The Associated]. This year’s goal is $5 million. McDonald says she wants Baltimore to be known as the “givingest” city in the country. In fact, she says, “We’ve been singled out by the national campaign as having the most groundbreaking city campaign. They are seeing what we’re doing in Baltimore, and they want other cities to take note.”

While McDonald, whose organization is a convening partner for Bmore Gives More 2013, realizes that $5 million is a lofty goal, she believes it is possible. And she predicts that just as it did in 2012, The Associated will once again play a major role in the campaign’s success.

“The Associated is a pivotal partner for Baltimore and in making Giving Tuesday happen here. They are exceptional fundraisers and smart, strategic thinkers who really know how to garner support and enthusiasm for giving,” says McDonald.

Leslie Pomerantz, senior vice president of development for The Associated, says Giving Tuesday is a great vehicle for the organization to remind people to give back to Baltimore and the Jewish community.

“It’s a tool to do what we do anyway, and it’s a great time of year to do it,” she says. “People are just coming off Thanksgiving, they have been eating good food, being with family — maybe they do some shopping; It’s a time when people say [to themselves] I’m very fortunate, I want to give.”

Pomerantz continues: “We know that as human beings we all want to feel connected to others, to community. I would like to think that is why The Associated is so successful. We all rally together to make the community strong. We also love Baltimore whether we grew up here or not. We’ve chosen to raise our kids here. So we love being part of a Baltimore coalition.”

Pomerantz points out that Giving Tuesday will not replace Mitzvah Day, which is sponsored by The Associated and its agencies annually on Christmas Day.

“We see philanthropy as a combination of time and money,” she says. “On Giving Tuesday we ask people to give dollars. On Mitzvah Day, we ask them to give their time.”

Working For Change

These days, it seems that everyone is starting a nonprofit. What’s the appeal?

“The reason people start nonprofits is because they see a need and a void that they are passionate to fill,” says Paddy Morton, attorney with Maryland Nonprofits, an organization that serves to strengthen and educate the state’s nonprofit sector. “They’re doing public cleanup projects; they’re doing mentoring projects; they’re doing environmental projects or animal-rights projects. They’re filling the gap that the government can’t complete.”

But it takes more than a good idea and passion to start a successful nonprofit.

“You can’t run a nonprofit these days with a nonprofit mentality; you have to run it with an entrepreneurial mindset,” says Ed Hartman, executive director of the Community Crisis Center in Reisterstown, which works to prevent homelessness through various forms of assistance. “You have to run it like a business.”

While passionate advocates may feel driven to form their own nonprofits, others effectively partner with existing organizations, and some raise money by participating in marathons, yogathons or other fundraising events.

Officials at Maryland Nonprofits recommend that those intent on starting nonprofits do their homework. The process involves following legal procedures and creating business-development strategies. Filing IRS documents, articles of incorporation and bylaws are required on the legal side, and for business development, a nonprofit needs to identify its donor base, volunteers and board members and come up with a model for growth and success.

Carl “Diesel” Galler (second from right) and members of Motorcycle Club Five give food to the needy at one of the Community Crisis Center’s food giveaways in Reisterstown. (Marc Shapiro)

Carl “Diesel” Galler (second from right) and members of Motorcycle Club Five give food to the needy at one of the Community Crisis Center’s food giveaways in Reisterstown.
(Marc Shapiro)

A Baltimore County motorcycle club, MCV (Motorcycle Club Five), formed its own 501(c)(3), MCVcares, in 2012 after the club already had been involved with charity work such as sending holiday packages to soldiers in Afghanistan. Club members say establishing the formal nonprofit gave them more legitimacy and made corporate entities more willing to donate.

“We would do it [the charity work] one way or the other,” says Carl “Diesel” Galler, vice president and co-founder of MCV. “Having the 501(c)(3) status adds some legitimacy and adds a level of confidence. It lends credibility to those folks [who donate] that we’re not just a ragtag bunch of people.”

The club, whose members are from Owings Mills, Reisterstown and Westminster, picks one charitable endeavor each year. Last year, it raised about $5,000 for the Hannah More School in Reisterstown, and this year it is hoping to raise $10,000 for the Living Classrooms’ Fresh Start program, which provides job training to young men who are recovering from substance abuse or coming from the juvenile justice system.

“Some of our members have lost some children to the disease of addiction, and we felt this dovetailed nicely with what we were doing,” Galler says.

In 2012, there were 23,739 501(c)(3) organizations operating in Maryland. The nonprofit sector is the fastest-growing employment sector in Maryland — and in the country, Morton says.

In Maryland, nonprofits have paved the way for lead abatement, which has significantly reduced the number of cases of lead poisoning. Hospice care also has benefited from the work of nonprofits, according to Maryland Nonprofits president and CEO Greg Cantori.

“Passion overrides the need for profits,” Cantori says. “There tends to be a very strong feeling that something is not just and that it needs to change. It could be anything from ‘Why are these kids not getting art education in schools?’ to ‘Why don’t they have a mentor in their life?’”

The lackluster music education program in Baltimore City’s public schools and a desire to give back using his musical skills led Kenny Liner to form Believe in Music. Liner, who toured with Baltimore rock band The Bridge for 10 years, has been teaching music in the city’s largest housing project, Perkins Homes, since September 2012.

But rather than starting his own nonprofit, he partnered with Living Classrooms.

“I really loved what Living Classrooms was doing already, and felt that I fit into what their mission was,” he says. “That’s a good way to get started, to partner with an already-established nonprofit whose mission coincides with yours.”

While he mainly raises his money from benefit concerts, utilizing contacts he made as a touring musician, he says he never turns down a good volunteer. Many nonprofits survive thanks to the work of volunteers.

“There are a lot of things that go behind being able to say ‘Oh yeah, we do dental, we give 3,000 pounds of food out a month,’” Hartman says. “There’s a lot of setup work before you do that. That’s all volunteers.”

Rabbi Elissa Sachs-Kohen started a yogathon  to raise money for the National Lung Cancer  Partnership after her mother died of lung cancer.

Rabbi Elissa Sachs-Kohen started a yogathon to raise money for the National Lung Cancer Partnership after her mother died of lung cancer.

Some people find themselves volunteering through unfortunate circumstances, such as Baltimore Hebrew Congregation Rabbi Elissa Sachs-Kohen. In 2008, her mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer and died 10 weeks later.

“I was shaken and looking for something to do,” she says.

She came across Free to Breathe, an organization that raises money for the National Lung Cancer Partnership. While she knew nothing about lung cancer prior to her mother’s diagnosis, she soon found out it kills more people than any other form of cancer. She learned about about a yogathon in North Carolina, and as a yoga devotee herself, she was intrigued.

“I ended up calling the organization expecting to just participate in an event and found myself running one,” she says. “I think that’s how this stuff happens.”

Rabbi Sachs-Kohen and Free to Breathe spearheaded Baltimore’s fifth event on Nov. 10, at the B&O Railroad Museum. This year, 141 people participated. While fundraising continues through the end of the year, more than $31,000 already has been raised.

“When you hear these stories of people who say we’ve changed their lives, it means the world,” says Gabi Green, endurance manager at Team Challenge, a half-marathon training program of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.

These good feelings do a lot more than make people feel warm and fuzzy, Cantori says. Research shows that the more people give of themselves, the better they feel physically and psychologically. Events such as marathons, yogathons and the like give people extra incentive and engage them further in causes, he says.

The Polar Bear Plunge, for example, raises money for the Special Olympics through people jumping into the frigid Chesapeake Bay at Sandy Point Park during the winter.

“Who in their right mind would jump into 30- or 40-degree water? But they do, and they have a blast,” Cantori says. “It is fun, it’s kooky and it’s for a great cause.”

Better To Give

2013_insider_aaron_shillerA meshulach (Jewish charity collector) visited our home late one summer night. A window was open so he knocked at the screen. Heschel, our dog, sprang to his feet, jumped through the screen and chased the visitor all the way down the block. We reveled in this victory, and Heschel earned himself extra treats that night. I often tell this story around the Shabbat table, and it is a crowd-pleaser. My children are well aware of how proud I was of Heschel that day.

Despite our attitudes toward that meshulach, my wife and I have tried to raise our children to be community-minded with open, giving hearts.

Last year, our 11-year-old son, Matan, and his friend, Ethan, gathered their band of friends and sold snowballs hoping to pad their wallets to buy football cards and Super Soakers [water guns]. To make this project more meaningful, the parents of this group suggested that they give a portion of their proceeds to a charity. I anticipated some pushback and prepared myself with mottos such as “It’s better to give than receive” and “Be thankful for what you have.” But to our surprise, the kids responded by showing true compassion. They worked hard and raised $500 for the Jewish Caring Network. They beamed with genuine pride.

The following year, to prove that they were not just worked over by fast-talking adults, they stepped up their operation and pulled in $1,000. Remarkably, they did not keep any of the money for themselves. The satisfaction of giving back to the community was not lost on these youngsters.

Now dubbed “The Snowball Gang,” the children were truly an inspiration. But they did need a bit of guidance to put them on that righteous path. Left to their own devices, they might not have made the same choices. For example, recently the same Matan, who I thought had understood my “be thankful for what you have” speech, paid $15 of his birthday money to watch a classmate drink a whole cup of ketchup. He thought it was money well spent, and the two of them were giddy with excitement as they told me about the episode.

Just as kids don’t always make the right judgment calls, it occurred to me that perhaps I celebrated a bit too much about that poor meshulach who was chased down the block by Herschel. I don’t know that I can stop telling the story around the Shabbat table. It’s an essential piece of comedic material. But I did do something else. Whenever a meshulach comes to the door, I fight my visceral desire to shoo him away. Instead, I invite him in and let him sit down. I ask a few questions and offer a drink. The last time a meshulach came around I introduced him to my children. (Yes, they thought it was strange.) I only had a few dollars to give him, and I apologized for that. The meshulach told me not to apologize. He said it was the best stop of his day.

Let Them Eat Cheerios

2013_insider_laurie_legumThis Year marks my son’s third Thanksgiving and third Chanukah. It is also the first time the holidays have coincided since 1861. The fact that both festivals are celebrations of appreciation, for our country and the miracle of lights respectively, makes it almost impossible not to reflect on the importance of giving and of instilling the spirit of tzedakah in my son.

Though he may be too young to comprehend the concept of tzedakah, he does seem to grasp the idea of giving. While snacking on Cheerios, he graciously offers handfuls of his favorite
cereal. With lightning speed, his saliva-covered paws will shove the moist little oats into the unsuspecting mouths of his mommy or daddy, and he’ll smile with pride once his gifts have been received.

Sweetly, he offers me the morning paper, blows on my coffee to cool it down or kisses my boo-boo.

He also finds great fulfillment in providing his posse of stuffed teddies and puppies with generous swigs of milk from his sippy cup.

Recently, his toy truck has also taken a liking to milk, while his stuffed Elmo has become a big fan of pretzels.

My son’s generosity extends to his medication as well. Nothing gives him greater pleasure than watching his daddy pretend to consume the last drops of Infants’ Advil from the measuring spoon.

In class, he shares his passion for all things four-wheeled. Sometimes he’ll offer a toy vehicle to a perplexed female classmate who, much to his dismay, ignores his gift. When a classmate snatches a toy from his hands, rather than cry, he takes the insult in stride.

He’s always willing to lend a hand with the housework, whether it’s using a broom to ‘sweep up’ the box of crackers he’s just dumped on the floor or mopping up a glass of spilled milk.

Just this morning, when an open container of chicken stock fell from the refrigerator and drenched me from head to toe, he kindly offered a helping hand in the form of Elmo, who used his furry red hands to wipe off my boots. Unfortunately, now it’s not just my clothes that need a good wash.

On Bookshelves

112213_gg-book-reviewHow Dalia Put A Big Yellow Comforter Inside A Tiny Blue Box And Other Wonders Of Tzedakah
by Linda Heller
Hard cover, 32 pages
Tricycle Press

Tsadee daled Kof hay” means justice, fairness, compassion and joy. In this children’s book, perfect for children ages 3 to 7, main character Dalia teaches her inquisitive younger brother, Yossi, about the meaning of tzedakah. Along with her community center classmates, Dalia deposits half of her earnings into her decorated tzedakah box. With each contribution, her pushka grows to contain a big yellow comforter, a butterfly bush, a banana cream pie and kisses, wishes and hugs. Together, Yossi and Dalia share the special duty of tzedakah with those in need.

B’More Healthy: The Value of Giving

112213_gg-healthWe know volunteering is a mitzvah, but what some people don’t know is that it’s also good for your health. According to CarePages.com, volunteering increases one’s sense of well-being and productivity and also positively impacts cardiovascular health, immune system and cognitive functioning, and reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Ilene Cohen, a former travel agent, is the volunteer volunteer coordinator at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. With 10 years of experience, she coordinates recruitment, scheduling and retention. The museum relies heavily on volunteers who are mostly retired, but they welcome others as well.

“The volunteers are actually the face of the museum. … They are our ambassadors,” says Cohen, who explains that volunteers enjoy contributing toward a good cause and also appreciate the camaraderie the job offers. “For me, time is more valuable than money.”

In addition to two afternoons a week at the JMM, she also volunteers through The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, serves as a docent at the Walters Art Museum and is a greeter for Shalom Baltimore. Cohen is also in the process of forming a Hadassah group in downtown Baltimore.

Making Cents Together

112213_gg-inside-scoop

(Justin Tsucalas)

Tzedakah, the mitzvah of giving, is a celebrated tradition in Jewish culture. As Dr. Sherry Blumberg, 2012 Jewish Educator of the Year recommends, when teaching your children about tzedakah, let them get involved as much as possible.

“Children learn best by doing and exploring through their senses,” she writes.

Make giving a meaningful and enjoyable bonding experience by helping your child create a personalized tzedakah box or “pushka” (Yiddish for tzedakah).

First, encourage your child to choose a charitable organization that has meaning for him or her. With an organization in mind, gather the following items: a small empty box or container with a lid, scissors, glue, construction paper and various decorating elements such as markers, glitter and stickers. Assist your child by making an opening for money and encourage decorating the box with tzedakah spelled in Hebrew letters. When the box is complete, have your child pick a place to keep it and watch as the contents grow.

Giving Something Tangible

Ali Berney and the staff at Carbiz are all too familiar with the negative stereotypes associated with the used-car business.

That’s why when Berney, finance manager at the Glen car dealership, contacted local charities to ask for their participation in the company’s newest giving initiative, she was prepared for a certain amount of skepticism.

And that was the case earlier this fall when Carbiz reached out to several organizations and offered them the chance to be a part of its Thanksgiving turkey drive.

“I think at first they were kind of taken aback because I was contacting them, reaching out to them, saying, ‘Hey, can you participate?’” Berney said. “They don’t expect a car dealership … contributing in this sort of way. It took a lot of convincing on my part to say, ‘Hey, we want to give you this. This is the real deal.’”
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