Posted by JF&CS

Whitney Rosenberg, Helaine Hazlett, and Karen Rosenberg.
Left to right: Whitney Rosenberg, Helaine Hazlett, and Karen Rosenberg

Karen Rosenberg can sum up her family's philanthropy in just a few words: "It's simply part of our everyday life." For Karen, her husband David, and their four children, supporting the people and institutions of their community is part of their fabric. After all, Karen, also one of four children, has great role models in her mother and father, Helaine and James Hazlett. "When you see your parents giving back on a daily basis, it just becomes second nature. It's how we function as a family

Making Tikkun Olam a Family Tradition

For Helaine, the answer is similar and thus the impetus for her lifetime of community service and strong ideology to create a better place for all. The values of tikkun olam, repairing the world, were taught and practiced with vigor throughout her childhood. Helaine remembers, "My parents were dutiful people who instilled in their four children a sense of Jewish connection in all that they pursued." Jim, too, shares their mutual philosophy of doing for others in an unconditional way.

Giving back continues to be a core value for both the Hazlett and Rosenberg families. Helaine shared, "When we see someone who is in need of assistance, we, collectively, do something whether it's with our pocketbook or by taking action." Helaine recalls receiving a phone call just before Shabbat: a community member did not have enough food or money to get them through the weekend. Helaine's immediate response to the news was to ask Family Table to open their doors and offer this individual access to several days' worth of food and supplies.

Raising local consciousness of the vital and varied programs offered by JF&CS and supporting their fundraising events are priorities for Helaine and Karen. The Hazletts and Rosenbergs were honorary chairs for the 2017 Benefit and will serve as committee members again this year. Helaine and Jim celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and, in lieu of gifts, suggested donations to Lauren & Mark Rubin Visiting Moms, a JF&CS program designed to offer support to new parents. Twenty years ago, Helaine created the "North Shore Community Hero" event, honoring unsung heroes, only to become one of the first honorees herself. She also serves on the committee for the annual JF&CS Women's Breakfast benefiting the Center for Early Relationship Support.

A New Generation of Volunteers

Helaine's and Karen's dedication to the community, and to JF&CS in particular, is now being embodied by a third generation, something which gives both women particular pride. When the Family Table distribution center first opened at the former Temple Shalom in Salem, Helaine took Karen's two older children, Shelby and Amanda, to deliver groceries to those in need. When Karen's third daughter, Whitney, was looking for volunteer opportunities, Karen suggested that she become involved with Family Table, and Whitney enthusiastically agreed.

Whitney and her younger brother, Andrew, would first sort and then deliver groceries to families in need. Packing and delivering groceries, a task that they undervalued prior to their exposure at Family Table, showed Whitney and her siblings that access to food was a very real challenge for these families. Furthermore, many clients were without full kitchens, pots, pans, cooking tools, or proper nutritional information, which impeded their ability to put healthy, balanced meals on the table.

After a summer internship with Family Table, Whitney wanted to continue to help the cause. "I originally thought that putting together a cookbook filled with simply-made and nutritious recipes would be a valuable tool, so I reached out to JF&CS," Whitney shared. Soon thereafter, she discovered that a cookbook targeted toward those living in circumstances with access to only a microwave and a hot plate was already in the works. That's when Whitney joined the JF&CS "Home Cooking without a Kitchen" team to further develop the cookbook.

Along with a member of the staff, Whitney traveled to motels in the Greater Boston area where homeless families lived. Her role was to prepare a meal from the newly developed cookbook, one that was mindful of grocery budgets and limited kitchens, and talk through the steps while demonstrating how to create a delicious, healthy, and satisfying meal. As Whitney commented, "Now clients are able to make more than just mac and cheese in the microwave."

Whitney is currently a sophomore at Syracuse University studying nutrition, and she credits her time with JF&CS for developing her interest in her chosen major. Even her essay for admission to college was about her experience at JF&CS. "Whitney is a ray of sunshine," Helaine said with pride. "She's a young woman who makes others feel happy and fulfilled, especially in difficult situations."

The Tradition Continues

Whitney and her family continue to give back as often as possible through Family Table. David, Karen's husband, supports JF&CS in numerous ways as well. Most recently, he assisted with the acquisition of several vans to service the JF&CS day program for adults with disabilities. Prime Motor Group also proudly employs adults from this crucial program.

All three generations of the Hazlett and Rosenberg families continue to give their time and resources to JF&CS because "working with JF&CS allows us to make a difference in so many ways," said Helaine. "We cannot idly stand by," stated Karen. Whitney added, "Volunteering at Family Table gives me a feel-good feeling."

If you would like to make a difference with JF&CS, visit our Volunteering page to find the perfect volunteer opportunity for your interests and abilities.