Last month, we celebrated the end of the Annual Campaign at The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore’s Annual Meeting. At this community-wide gathering, we also paid tribute to our outgoing chair of the board, Bruce Sholk, who ended his two-year term and handed the gavel to Howard Friedman, his successor.
At this touching event, Bruce ref-lected on how embraced he feels by his adopted community – he moved here from Cincinnati 18 years ago – and how he has been inspired to give back to Jewish Baltimore because of the kindness shown to him and his family.
As chair of The Associated Board of Directors, Bruce was an exemplary leader. He brought passion and intensity to the role, always tempered by his great intellect and his desire to work collaboratively within The Associated system and the community.
In fact, it was at his suggestion that this year’s Associated Annual Meeting also included a hands-on volunteer expo highlighting the local agencies that offer opportunities for individuals to roll up their sleeves and make a difference in the community. Hundreds of Baltimoreans turned out to celebrate with The Associated and sample the breadth of the programs and services made possible by the Annual Campaign.
As The Associated’s first board chair neither born in Baltimore nor married to a native, Bruce personifies the success that comes from welcoming newcomers to our community and nurturing their interest in engagement within our system.
In my role as president of The Associated, I frequently meet with colleagues from other communities and, invariably, I am asked the same question: What is the secret in Baltimore? How has your community managed to remain strong during tough times?
The answer is easy: we are blessed with a cadre of committed volunteers willing to give their time, talent and res-ources for the betterment of the community. Our leadership care deeply about their global Jewish family and are invested in providing a safety net for those who need it and inspiration for future generations. We are truly blessed in that we have so many individuals dedicating themselves to the welfare of others.
Additionally, The Associated has devoted much time and attention to leadership development for all who are interested, from teens and young adults to our most veteran leaders. Through The Associated’s Center for Community Engagement and Leadership, we share best practices, tackle tough questions about leadership.
Cultivating volunteer leaders for our community is a role The Associated takes very seriously. We have seen firsthand the impact dedicated leaders make on the community. From fundraising to planning, Associated volunteers play pivotal roles, from sharing the burden during challenging times to lending full support when tough communal decisions need to be made.
The centralized fundraising and planning model that Baltimore follows encourages collaboration and partnerships. At The Associated, we consider our community truly fortunate to have leaders who stand shoulder to shoulder with their professional partners and help lead Jewish Baltimore to a bright and vibrant future.