by Caroline Poland
Director, North Peninsula Jewish Teen Foundation
I am grateful that the work I do every day is infused with inspiration and passion, reflecting my love for life and philanthropy. My name is Caroline Poland, and I’m the Director of the N. Peninsula Jewish Teen Foundation. In my work I have the privilege of seeing teens grow and evolve as young Jewish change-makers. Recently I’ve had cause for even more nachas – we’ve grown the scope of our work to continue our connection with our JTF alumni through our Alumni Councils or AC’s (presently there are two, Marin/SF and NPJTF AC’s respectively).
The beauty of this work
Our Alumni Councils engage teens beyond their JTF board service, and are largely focused on giving back to our local community through Jewish programing and hands-on projects. From teaching philanthropy workshops for 7th grade Hebrew School classes at local synagogues, to participating in our Federation’s Super Sunday fundraising event; these motivated youth are taking the leadership skills they learned with the Jewish Teen Foundations to a new level.
The story of Zoe and Max
Zoe and Max are in their first year of college. Zoe, an Engineering major attends Tufts University in Boston. Max, a Broadcast Journalism major attends Syracuse University in upstate New York. Zoe and Max found time during their winter break to come to a JTF meeting to share their experiences on how they connected to Jewish life on campus and the ways their JTF training has served them in this new chapter. Both are associated to their Hillel on campus where they heartily noted, “The food is so much better than the dining halls!” Zoe was drawn to Hillel by a friend who invited her to attend a retreat about sustainable farming and food justice. Today she attends services weekly and remarked, “After I finish my week of work, there is something really special about getting ready for services, meeting friends, and walking together to Hillel for on Friday night.”
Max enjoys the diverse themes Hillel creates for services that encourage camaraderie and inclusion. “I connect with friends I don’t often see during the week, and we really have fun at services and Shabbat dinner together.”
Calling on their JTF skills in their new chapter
Max’s connection to Hillel immediately called on his JTF experience and skills when he was asked to take part in a fundraising campaign. He said he quickly got back in the fundraising space, and used his experiences with elevator pitches with donors in his new role with Hillel. He also mentioned using his leadership and advocacy experience to land the internship of a lifetime at a local news station.
For Zoe, her work as a young philanthropist has inspired her to participate in a number of groups on campus and she remarked on how her experience has fueled many conversations about creating change.
As the person who witnessed the growth of these two remarkable teens, and their unwavering commitment to doing so much good in the world, it’s an absolute gift that leaves me deeply humbled and hopeful that the next generations of Jewish philanthropists are indeed becoming ready to rise and lead us in our collective new chapter.