Welcome to our new series, “Because of the J.” We’re sharing stories from members of our community about the impact the J has had on their lives. Read more “Because of the J” stories here >>
The SJCC Kesher Community Garden has been a beloved part of our campus for the past decade, and this past summer it became a lifeline for those experiencing food insecurity. It also became the focal point of connection and volunteerism for our new program, Mitzvah Corps, where neighbors help neighbors. Community volunteer Karen Lieberman was at the center of it all.
Ten years ago, Karen was part of a group of outdoor lovers who dreamed of a community garden at the J — a place where families could dig side by side, share the summer sunshine, and kids at the J could learn about life. Chances are if you’ve been in the garden in the past decade, you’ve seen Karen there working on her own beautiful plot, tending to the communal gardens, or showing our preschoolers around. Over the past year, she has been so proud to see the garden blossom into something more through our Mitzvah Corps program. “This is the most important thing I can do, teaching the campers and teen volunteers the value of helping those in need,” she said.
Everyone was amazed at how quickly the hunger relief program came together. Once a distribution channel for the food was found, activity in the garden ramped up. Working together, Karen, J staff members from Mitzvah Corps, plus kids from J Camp and ECS found a way for dozens of people to contribute.
“We had a group of Boy Scouts volunteers from Bellevue and I loved seeing the looks on their faces as they cut produce, knowing this food was going to help feed those in need,” Karen said. Kids, teens, and adults alike came to the garden to plant seeds, remove weeds, and—when nature signaled—harvest food for donation.
The program quickly grew beyond the J, offering volunteer opportunities for our neighbors and our entire community. At this vital time, the Kesher Community Garden is feeding the hungry — and feeding the souls of those who are working the land and harvesting something meaningful.
The stories are endless, the impact is infinite, and the time for your support is now! Please double your impact and help us meet our goal today. Achshav – now for the J! Donate here >>