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What Hadassah has Done for me

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Joan Baron

I grew up as one of two children in a single-parent household. My parents divorced when I was 10, my mom struggled, worked full time to support us, survived cancer, and had a very hard life. Somehow, though, I knew that there was more out there, and I wanted to reach for it.

My Aunt Pauline had belonged to the AltruaGuild in Baltimore. I was told it was a group of people who got together to help others. I didn really know what it meant, but I knew that I wanted to do that sometime in the future.

My Hadassah story began about 40 years later around 13 years ago. I had married, divorced, remarried, raised 5 children, worked full time, car pooled, etc., and eventually retired.

We moved into our new retirement community in Florida, and had completed all of the move-in chores, had made friends, joined clubs, and were enjoying life. However, I knew that was not enough to make me feel complete. I was just beginning to investigate volunteer opportunities when one of my neighbors said she was starting a Hadassah chapter and asked me to join. I said yes, though I did not know anything about Hadassah. My friend then asked me if I would become Fund-Raising VP. I knew just about as much (or as little) about fundraising; I also knew it was not for me. But, I said yes anyway. So, basically I joined for the friendship, the camaraderie, and, just maybe, Hadassah would enable me to fulfill my Aunt Paulines part of my life.

And that began the journey that would fulfill my soul for the rest of my life. My question is: How does an organization become a lifestyle? How did Hadassah become me? How did I become Hadassah?

I learned about Hadassah, I learned about Israel, I learned about Judaism, I learned about me. I learned that I craved helping people. I learned I wanted to learn to be more Jewish; I learned I wanted to be a better me and a better person. I wanted to pay back to society and to humanity for all that I have been given. I believe each and every one of us is put on this mortal earth for a reason - my reason is to perform tikkun-olam. Hadassah enables me to do this.

I work hard at Hadassah. I don take classes, knit, play cards, go to lunch with the girls. However, no matter how much time or money I was to have, I would/could not enjoy anything more that I enjoy doing Hadassah.

I have made wonderful friends.
I have grown in knowledge, I have experience so much pleasure; I have felt so much joy.
I have learned so very much.
I have come to appreciate all that I have, all that I am, all that I can be.
In exceeding all of my goals, all of my dreams, all of my hopes and all of my prayers, I have become the Best ME that I could ever hope to be.

My goal, for the rest of my life, is to pass on this passion, this knowledge, this dream. I want to infect everyone I can with my Hadassah virus so that they, too, can become infected with this passion, knowledge, dream. Wanna come along?

I have become a Zionist, a better Jew, a better person. This is not about what I have given Hadassah, this is what Hadassah has given me. Simply put, I can simply say, Toda Rabbah.


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