December 18, 1914 - May 21, 2008
Rachelle Hirstio came to the United States from Sweden after World War II and taught French in in the Sequoia Union High School District. In the summers, she traveled back to Europe, taking students from around the United States with her. She was a quiet hero who lived through some extraordinary times. Rachelle went about her business, saving her paychecks and investing her money. After retirement she purchased a mobile home in Mountain View and continued her worldwide travels and mid-Peninsula cultural activities. When she passed away in May of 2008 at the age of 93, this modest schoolteacher left behind a not-so-modest estate, which she willed to the Jewish community. Her bequest joined the hundreds of others that help to make up the Jewish Community Endowment Fund
In Every Generation Unforeseen Challenges Arise
Last fall it became clear that the country was clearly heading into another extraordinary period ― the most severe economic downturn in decades. “Job losses are at their highest in twenty-five years,” reported Abby Snay, the Executive Director of Jewish Vocational Service. In response to the deteriorating economy, the Jewish Community Federation began a collaborative effort with agencies and Bay Area synagogues to assess the challenges ahead. Areas of urgent need were identified and the Federation prepared a rapid response menu of community priorities. When the Endowment Fund Committee met last December, they approved grants of $800,000 to support agencies and programs, focusing on the needs that were highlighted in the Federation’s list.
Responding to Emergency Needs
JCEF Allocations Chair Laura Lauder played a key role in fast-tracking the grant approval process. According to her, “Our first priority was to get funds to the agencies that deal directly with those in need as quickly as possible. Yet, at the same time, we must continue to fund and support all of our programs that enrich and strengthen the Jewish community here in the Bay Area, in Israel and around the world.”
Three emergency assistance grants were made, including
- $75,000 to Jewish Vocational Service to hire an additional full-time employment specialist, allowing them to meet the increased demand for services;
- $70,000 for Jewish Family and Children’s Services to help address supplementary requests for emergency financial assistance for individuals and families in crisis; and
- $50,000 to enable the Jewish Day School Scholarship Fund to help children stay in school.
Reacting to the news of the JVS grant, Ms, Snay said, “Unemployment is projected to grow throughout 2009. Because of this timely support, we are able to immediately address the dramatically growing need for employment help in our community.”
Rachelle Hirstio lived through the 20th century’s most difficult periods. She entrusted the Jewish Community Endowment Fund to put her money to work for the betterment of her community in the 21st century. The gifts that Rachelle left included the balance of a Charitable Gift Annuity and a bequest. She also graciously made the Federation the beneficiary of two life insurance policies. These funds are a part of what makes it possible for the Jewish Community to meet this current emergency. Today’s donors are providing the resources that future generations will rely on to meet the challenges that lie ahead.
To direct your philanthropic priorities, please view a list of community needs at: www.sfjcf.org/go/needs