When Laurie Alexander, chair of the National Council of Jewish Women, Palm Beach Section, stood before the hundreds in the audience at the organization’s annual Women in Power luncheon and boutique at PGA National Resort & Spa, she began her remarks with a heartfelt thank-you for those in attendance, as well as those who were unable to attend, for their commitment and contributions to the NCJW.
Then she quipped, “A week ago we [the luncheon committee] were faced with a big, big problem. Turns out, it was a good problem. The room we had originally booked was too small. So we were able to get the grand ballroom, which is where we are today. It is all because of your desire to be here.”
And that desire to be present, to be counted and to practice Tikkun Olam, a Judaic tradition and value – which calls upon Jews to repair or heal the world when confronted with social injustice – is what continually informs the mission of NCJW and its members. The Palm Section’s chosen community services are grounded in improving the lives of women, children and their families. Exemplifying the convergence of NCJW Palm Beach Section’s stated mission and community service is their ongoing and vibrant project, Kids Community Closet.
Kids Community Closet serves five Palm Beach County public elementary schools, “…in which at least 90 per cent of the attending children qualify for free or reduced lunch, the federal measure of poverty,” according to NCJW’s website.
Serving approximately 3,100 children, the closets are filled with necessities of a school day and more, including: pants, shorts, skirts, collared jerseys, underwear, socks and school supplies. The seamless collaboration with school staff and NCJW volunteers enables students to receive emergency material from the closet, and the closets remain fully stocked.
A sixth Kids Community Closet was recently inaugurated at Roosevelt Elementary School in West Palm Beach and a powerfully sweet woman and her team made it possible with their generous donations.
Sheila Mains, the understated and understanding founder and CEO of Sheila G’s Brownie Brittle, partnered with NCJW to add the sixth Kids Community Closet and she keynoted the Women in Power luncheon. Mains is no stranger to adversity.
“Let me take you on this journey,” she said to the audience, “this living-on-the-edge journey.” And when the story of her journey was finished, Mains had been fired from her job, lost her home to foreclosure, sold prized possessions to survive, and then sacrificed even more to pursue a dream. That dream, now partially packaged in Brownie Brittle, is available from Barnes & Noble to Wegmans and from Costco to Walmart.
The other portion of Main’s dream, not fully embodied in Brownie Brittle, is one she shares with NCJW: to practice Tikkun Olam each day.