The artwork on this note card was featured on the cover of the 5776/2015-16 WRJ Art Calendar, created by Helaine Bach for the WRJ/NFTY Art Contest.
The Jefferson Avenue Day Care Center is located in the heart of the inner city in Rochester, New York. The center serves anywhere from 40 to 60 children, all of whom have parents on social assistance. The bulk of the children come from dysfunctional families of one sort or another. The Center has been held together by its Director, Vanessa Mangrum. The Center was not accredited and was sharing space with a church in less than ideal circumstances.
A coalition of business leaders and social activists calling themselves "Rochester's Child" has attempted to obtain accreditation for Rochester's day care centers. Rochester's Child brought the challenge of Jefferson Avenue, which was the most needy and most difficult day care center, to Temple B'rith Kodesh's Social Action Committee. The Committee, in accepting the challenge, has tried to bring as many Temple members into the project as possible. B'rith Kodesh has done an inspiring job of mobilizing its members to bring the Day Care Center from dream to reality.
Architects from the Temple and other Temple members joined the Facilities Committee to help evaluate plans for the improvement of the day care center's space and serve as construction administrators, thus saving the day care center the cost. Temple members raised the necessary funds to pay for the architectural design.
Attorneys from the Committee worked pro bono to negotiate a lease with the church. Temple volunteers assisted in painting the interior of the space. One of the Temple members recognized that the reading material was inappropriate for the children and obtained volunteer library specialists and, ultimately, designed an entire new library. Temple members raised money to purchase the new library. Temple members volunteered to spend at least an hour a week reading to the children. The Committee brought the project to the Jewish Federation which has also provided reading volunteers.
Temple members catalogued the needs of the Center. Members of the Temple contributed a number of needed items, including a used computer system. The Temple solicited funds for a new playground. For several years, the Temple provided funds for a holiday party and Christmas presents for the teaching staff.
The Temple also financed the purchase of a van for the Center, which is used to transport children to the Center and home. As a result of its efforts, the Temple has received the United Way J.C. Penny award for the best educational program of the year.