The Edward A. Myerberg Center is busy on this Wednesday afternoon. In the room opposite the entrance, music booms as a dozen people tromp back and forth, waving their arms and kicking their legs in different exercise movements. Some men hauling canvases bigger than themselves pass through the hallway on their way to another room. Two pause triumphantly to display their paintings to those sitting in the entranceway. Images of water lilies and bygone Renaissance women draped in white fill the atrium with light and color.
The members of the Jewish Women’s Giving Foundation (JWGF) soon arrive. They’re here at the Myerberg Center this Wednesday to discuss the three-year grant funding B4: The Bold Baltimore Bubbe’s Blog (a working title). B4 will bring together older women who may be experiencing social isolation, a common problem for older people, and work with them to develop their technological skills.
“The multi-year grant to Myerberg is pending approval from the full membership,” said Jennifer Mendelsohn Millman, director of JWGF of Baltimore, a Program of the Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore. The Myerberg Center is the second organization slated to receive this three-year grant. The grant “will enable us to create a new, innovative program we otherwise would not have the resources to do,” said Gail Zuskin, executive director of the Myerberg Center.
While improving their access and ease with technology, B4 will rally women to write for a blog, including articles “that are interesting, relatable, engaging and exciting; that connect more and more women to be able to utilize technology and decrease social isolation,” said Melanie Waxman, Tech-Knowledge Hub Concierge at the Myerberg Center.
The JWGF, founded in 2003, is a coalition of women connected to the Baltimore Jewish community who each contribute $1,000 to a funding pool annually. Members then participate in a grant-making process that culminates with the funding of 6-10 nonprofits whose work benefits women and girls.
While most of their grants are for one year with the opportunity to apply for a second year, the JWGF recently began a three-year grant cycle.
“We know that it is a best practice to grant that way,” said Millman. “It allows organizations to focus on programming and doing what they are best at, what they are meant to do, and spend less time fundraising. It also gives them the ability to fail and not to worry that they are going to lose funding.”
To be a successful teacher of older women, Waxman believes, you need to have “great communication, listening and not do everything for [students].
Waxman and Zuskin served as teachers for the women of the JWGF when they gave their presentation on social isolation in older women.
“When Gail and Melanie came to present to us about this project they talked to us about social isolation and laid out this incredibly compelling case that social isolation cuts across all class barriers, all classes,” said Millman. “So it doesn’t matter the socio-economic level of the woman; an isolated woman is not a healthy woman and not a woman who is aging safely in the community.”