Creating Connections: A Message From The President & CEO

Shalom Chaverim,

It has been a week of hope in Kansas City as many of us – people of various races, faith and cultural backgrounds – come together to celebrate SevenDays, a result of the tragedy that occurred when William Corporon, Terri LaManno and Reat Underwood became the victims of a hate crime on April 13, 2014. The SevenDays week began with an interfaith dialogue at The Temple, Congregation B’nai Jehudah on April 18, and concludes with the 3rd annual SevenDays Peace Walk at Union Station on April 24.

While I am new to the work of Give SevenDays, I am inspired by its efforts to create connections to make our community a kinder place. A community that works together to promote understanding; a community in which we come together to improve upon the many wonderful things already taking place.

Taking all of this into account, I am very pleased to share with you Jewish Federation’s commitment to creating connections to bring about positive change. One recent, and successful, example is FedBall: Hoops for a Cause, which was a unique approach to March Madness. FedBall was developed as an NCAA Basketball Tournament bracket challenge for individuals who wanted to combine their passion for college basketball with their desire to help others.

With a $36 buy in, participants had the opportunity to join the FedBall NCAA Basketball Tournament bracket. Half of their registration fee went into the winning pot, and the other half went into a charitable pot to support a cause within the Jewish community. Throughout the tournament, participants also voted in a second bracket selection process to collectively determine their favorite local programs and services funded by Jewish Federation. The final winner – Jewish Family Services’ Mental Health Coalition – was the reigning finalist, winning $1,000 raised in the charitable pot.

It was a simple idea that – in its first year – connected more than 60 participants to a variety of incredible programs and services helping Kansas Citians. The brainchild of FedBall co-chairs Jay Benjamin and Jeff Stolper, FedBall reminds us of the wonderful possibilities when we open our minds to new ideas and take the time to listen to each other. Of real interest is the fact that FedBall, which was geared toward men ages 22-45, ended up bringing both men and women of all ages together to enjoy the camaraderie and learn about Federation-funded services. We even had multiple generations within families enjoying friendly competition against one another during the tournament.

Fortunately, that is not the end of the FedBall story: Jay, Jeff and Andrew Cotlar, Federation’s Development & Engagement Manager, hope to connect more people through FedBall next year. Their goal: to help even more people in the Jewish community. Thanks to Jay, Jeff and Andrew for bringing FedBall to life, and for making such a positive difference in our community.

I look forward to Jewish Federation continuing to open the door to new initiatives that create deeper and more meaningful connections within Jewish Kansas City.