Teen Philanthropists Combat Food Insecurity with $3,600 in Grants

Teens in JTConnect’s Teen Leadership & Philanthropy Initiative (TLPI) culminated their intensive year of learning and work by awarding two grants totaling $3,600 to local organizations. United by a desire to make a difference in our community, the TLPI group chose to target food insecurity as where they wanted to make an impact.

“Meeting with our TLPI class this year has been a valuable experience as we engaged in Jewish philanthropy,” reflected Yonah Goldberg ’21. “We met with community leaders, created an RPF, organized our own fundraiser, and are allocating grants to organizations combating food insecurity in the area. I not only now understand the value of philanthropy that will stay with me for the rest of my life, but I have grown more confident that I can have an impact independently.”

Hands on Hartford‘s Faces of Homelessness Speakers’ Bureau (FOH) received one of the TLPI grants this year. FOH creates events with diverse community groups across the region where speakers share firsthand experiences that bring hunger and homelessness into focus for audiences who may or may not have much knowledge of the issue. Speakers describe their struggles with not being able to afford both food and housing and share the ways food-insecure people must piece together their daily nutrition through soup kitchens, food banks, negligible SNAP benefits, etc. – and how sometimes they end up going hungry. Many of the teens in the TLPI group had listened to a FOH speaker in the past, either at JTConnect or in their schools, and were passionate in the power of narrative to inspire the listener to be agents of change.

The other grant supported the food insecurity programs offered by Mercy Housing and Shelter Corporation‘s Friendship Center. The Friendship Center is one of the largest meals program (soup kitchens) in Greater Hartford. The Friendship Center is open five days per week, providing meals twice a day, and ultimately serving over 2,100 of our region’s most vulnerable residents annually. The TLPI group was particularly impressed by the center’s efforts to tailor the assistance they offer to the unique situation of their clients and offer them a sense of dignity and control.

Interested in joining TLPI? Visit http://www.jtconnect.org/tlpi for more information.

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