So many changes have taken place since 1913 and yet, NCJW, GHS’s priorities of building better lives for women, children and families, and speaking out for those who cannot speak for themselves has remained unchanged. The organization’s commitment to tikkun olam and performing mitzvot continues today with guarantees for its future contributions to community.
A timeline of significant dates in NCJW, GHS’s history follows.
Sadie Dannenbaum, NCJW Houston’s first president, reflected that the work the section should take up vigorously is the uplift of the immigrant. The thought was to do all NCJW can to guide and protect immigrants upon their arrival through friendly, rapid help, and no way considered charity. Today, NCJW has many projects and the methods are still friendly, giving rapid help, and in no way, acting as if it were giving a charity.
Began working with girls’ home with protective care for immigrants who were the bread winners of their families.
Formed Sewing Committee, providing clothing for babies of the poor and needy children of Council House; continued this project until 1945.
Provided programs and community service for War Relief.
Helped Council House develop ways to meet the social, educational and religious needs of people of different nationalities; continued project until 1940.
Ship-A-Box project: Contributions sent to Israel to cover costs of educational materials that were distributed to schools and day care centers.
Developed playroom at the Jewish Community Center for preschoolers. Furnished library at the JCC. Offered classes in English and American citizenship. Created Day Center for Seniors.
Established Thrift Shop to support Day Center. Gave service to foreign born, by assisting in settlement and teaching English to immigrants. Created Toymobiles for Texas Children’s Hospital. Established a JCC book fair for the community.
Formed Operation LIFT (Literacy Instruction for Texas) in conjunction with Channel 13 and used televised programs to teach 75,000 illiterate adults. Promoted “Sesame Street” with local TV stations. Volunteered with juvenile delinquency rehabilitation programs of Houston.
Created Gateway to Houston to help newcomers and to acquaint them with what Houston had to offer. Sponsored Breast Screening Project with M.D. Anderson Cancer Center research team. In conjunction with Jewish Family Service, assisted in the settlement of Russian immigrants – apartments, groceries, transportation for medical appointments; expanded to Vietnamese in later years. Established Family Outreach Center to provide counseling for parents who were experiencing difficulty coping with the problems of child rearing.
Created Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse to provide counseling and legal aid to victims of domestic abuse – AVDA still exists today. Worked with and supported Child Advocates, where volunteers investigate and recommend a course of action on behalf of neglected children in the custody of Harris County Children’s Protective Services. Worked with HISD in its Kindergarten Screening (VIPS) Program, where volunteers tested young children to help them succeed in school.
Taught Systematic Training for Effective Parenting. Formed SIMCH, where volunteers led programs with senior adults. NCJW published “I Remember When,” a book written by seniors about their lives, to give to their families and friends. Conducted Mothers in the Workplace study to gather data and promote awareness regarding the needs of working parents. Developed materials for and volunteered in 2 On Your Side, a consumer-referral and information service at Channel 2. Established Holocaust Education Program for ninth-graders in the Katy Independent School District.
Worked with Harris County Children’s Protective Services as volunteers in the Preparation for Adult Living program. Created intergenerational community-wide Women’s Seder, still going strong. Initiated Call to Protect, collecting used cell phones to be distributed to battered women for use in emergencies. Extended Holocaust Project to Fort Bend Independent School District. Brought Home Instruction Program for Parents of Preschool Youngsters to HISD. Program has expanded, still supported by NCJW. Created Lifelong Independence for Teens.
Founded Donny Workman Memorial Lunch program to provide lunch and art scholarships for HIV-positive people who attend an art outreach program.
Created Joy of Reading program and sponsored Health Fair at House of Tiny Treasures. Established NCJW’s Women and Gender Studies program at Tel Aviv University. Assisted Katrina survivors in Galveston and Houston. Joined Coalition Against Human Trafficking. Established the NCJW Provisional Supply Bank for the Human Traffik Stop program with YMCA. Our impact continues with our dedication to AVDA, HIPPY and the Back 2 School Store and in 2020, the creation of Pads and Pons, distributing sanitary supplies to women and girls in our community who can not afford these items.
* * *
Since its beginnings in 1913, NCJW, Greater Houston Section has provided: aid to immigrants, to the hungry and homeless, to victims of domestic abuse; help for abused and underprivileged children; and even aid to Israel. NCJW, GHS’s 100-year commitment and resolve are strong as its mission continues.