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Real Estate Group Powers 'Mitzvah Mania' to Build a Foundation of Hope

March 17, 2011 By:
Lynn B. Edelman
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Jewish Federation Real Estate members and their families volunteered alongside professional craftspeople from Rebuilding Together Philadelphia in a 2008 Mitzvah Mania home renovation project. This year, the group will again partner with RTP and work with members of Federation's Renaissance Group and other community volunteers to renovate eight homes in South Philadelphia.

In South Philadelphia and the Great Northeast, Jewish Federation Real Estate has committed both dollars and manpower to ensure that Federation's fourth annual "Mitzvah Mania" day of community service is its most successful to date. JFRE chairman David Adelman said that he was "proud to announce that JFRE leadership was unanimous in deciding to direct funding for the exciting volunteer projects during 'Mitzvah Mania' on Sunday, April 3, 2011."

Renovating homes in South Philadelphia and the Greater Northeast, rebuilding neighborhood public spaces and the creation of a new playground at the Klein JCC, which will be dedicated during special ceremonies on "Mitzvah Mania," are just a few of the special projects being funded by JFRE.

One hundred JFRE members, volunteers from Federation's Renaissance Group (for young men and women ages 45 and under) and other community members will work side-by-side with skilled craftspeople from Rebuilding Together Philadelphia (RTC)-Federation's partner since 2007. Together, this team will provide a safe and secure home for eight families.

"In addition, the entire block will get a face lift," said RTC executive director Carrie Rathmann, explaining that "volunteers will paint railings, build planters, place benches and perform some basic energy-efficiency tasks for additional homeowners."

Rathmann said that "Mitzvah Mania" is "an ideal project for our organization to become involved with as it reflects our mission -- to bring volunteers together to improve the lives of people in need."

She expressed her belief that "there is great synergy between the goals of "Mitzvah Mania" and RTC, as "both strive to bring about tangible and measurable results in a single community."

JFRE members will also work with members of Federation's Men's Cabinet and students from Temple University Hillel to put the final touches on a new playground at the Klein JCC. This state-of-the-art, safe facility replaces the 30-year-old outdated equipment that has currently been used by more than 300 children on a daily basis.

It is the fulfillment of Project HiP, a fundraising endeavor of Men's Cabinet, a six-year regional leadership training program for individuals under the age of 45. JFRE has committed significant funding for this project during a campaign led by Men's Cabinet chair, Jeff Barrack, immediate past chair Neil Cooper and a fundraising chair Robert Landow.

The Klein JCC will be closed to members during "Mitzvah Mania" so that JFRE members can join with other volunteers in a project dubbed the "Great Klein Clean-Up." They will help restore the building to its original luster by painting walls and trim, hanging signage, cleaning doors and door frames, and constructing and hanging enclosures for electrical boxes.

Members of Young JFRE, men and women in the real estate and related industries who are under the age of 30, will work with senior adults served by Rhawnhurst NORC to spruce up more than 60 Northeast Philadelphia homes. Volunteers will take off weather-stripping, put in air-conditioners, clean up lawns from winter debris and do other small home-maintenance jobs.

Rhawnhurst NORC is a "Naturally Occurring Retirement Community" that provides adults age 60 and older with the information and minor home-maintenance and repair services they need to remain independent and living in their home.

It is a joint effort of the Jewish Federation, Catholic Human Services, and the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania.

JFRE was created in 2007 to bring together, engage and educate members of the real estate and related fields under the auspices of the Jewish Federation to help impact pressing community needs. Today, this successful Federation affinity has grown to more than 200 members and delivers impact through a JFRE Fund -- to date, the fund has raised more than $225,000 from its members.

According to Adelman, "JFRE's goal is to significantly grow the fund to enhance its ability to provide resources to the community to address its most critical real estate needs, from something as basic as home repair for low-income members of the community to sophisticated flagship real estate projects."

He expresses pride in JFRE's commitment to powering "Mitzvah Mania": "Our support has been critical, making possible the transformation of dozens of homes and dozens of lives, not to mention connecting hundreds of volunteers to the needs in our community."

"Mitzvah Mania" is just one of the many projects and community events undertaken by JFRE. JFRE is currently working on a partnership with other community organization to leverage its resources and develop strategic alliances for even greater impact on critical priorities in the area.

JFRE helps members and potential members to stay at the forefront of the real estate industry. Through ongoing breakfast events that discuss business trends and an annual fundraising gala, JFRE connects real estate leaders to one another and to the industry's leading experts.

Programs also provide exclusive access to exciting new venues before they even open to the public.

Additionally, JFRE's evolving Web site (www.JFRE.net) is creating a robust, interactive Web environment where members can connect via the electronic sharing of data, experiences and opportunities for collaboration.

For more information about "Mitzvah Mania" volunteer opportunities throughout the Greater Philadelphia area, see: www.jewishphilly.org/mitzvahmania or call the "Mitzvah Mania" hotline at 215-832-0564.

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