CJE Associate Board members are inspiring younger generations to connect with older adults
By Nicole Bruce
Just a few short years since its inception, the CJE SeniorLife Associate Board is making tremendous strides to ensure CJE can support the community’s older adults for another 45 years. Comprised of young professionals who volunteer their time and talents to raise funds and build awareness for the organization, the Associate Board works year-round to advance CJE’s fundamental mission.
In speaking with Rachel Levy, who serves as the CJE Associate Board’s first Chair, we learned that her interest in advocating for older adults stems from the loss of her grandparents early in her life, as well as the early loss of her father. “Serving an organization that supports the elderly in the community really resonated with me. We’re inspiring a younger generation to go the extra mile to advocate for people who grew up generations before us, which has been special to me,” says Levy.
The wisdom that comes from a lifetime of experience is invaluable, and as part of a younger generation, Rachel feels the responsibility to pass it on: “It’s important for younger generations to get involved and be aware of what’s going on in our elderly community because, truthfully, our parents aren’t so far away from being there, so we’re setting ourselves up for a successful future.”
In 2016, the Associate Board hosted its first educational event, Drinks, Links, and How CJE Thinks, in which 85 attendees mingled and learned more about CJE’s vital programs. At two Associate Board Meetings, members planned their volunteer activities for the year ahead and spent time enjoying the company of residents at Lieberman Center and Weinberg Community.
In addition, Associate Board members filled four tables at the 2016 Celebrate CJE event, doubling the attendance of the “under 40 crowd.” According to Levy: “As young professionals, we can be agents of change to help the ‘bigger’ boards and organizations excel and exceed expectations. We’re definitely part of a generation that has many skills to offer, especially in social media, technology and communications. There’s much we can bring to the table.”
Social media and strategic partnerships have been a huge part of the Associate Board members’ efforts to advance CJE’s fundraising and outreach initiatives. “I think it’s important to share what’s already going out on social media on behalf of CJE. We can help amplify the outreach to a younger generation. I tell fellow members to pay attention to the inspirational stories CJE is already posting because it’s a great way for us to engage with our own social networks,” says Levy.
“A young board can lead the way in offering cool events and networking opportunities for our peers. Millennials want to be social while we are helping the community,” notes Levy. In 2016, the Associate Board more than doubled the funds it raised in 2015 to more than $15,000. Members personally donated $9,287, and solicited an additional $5,854.
As a Senior Sales Manager at The Waldorf Astoria Chicago, Levy also leverages her professional relationships for social change, and encourages the Associate Board to work within their own networks to benefit CJE as well: “Offering leadership opportunities pushes our members to create and utilize strategic partnerships to help CJE. I work with many venues, catering companies, and restaurants in Chicago, so I’m also able to offer them opportunities to give back and support a great local organization like CJE. I’m personally and professionally invested in giving back.”
“As Chair, I’m also discovering what personally motivates our Associate Board members. I hope to encourage each one to find the best way to express his or her own passion for CJE. I think Spin for Seniors was a great example of that.”
The Associate Board’s first fundraiser this past February, Spin for Seniors, at SoulCycle in Lakeview, sold out the studio’s 62 bikes and raised a grand total of $5,285. A matching donation boosted this number to $10,570 toward a new Shalom bus for CJE. “We’d just on-boarded a few new Associate Board members, and we were all able to see what motivated them—fundraising through fitness. They planned and executed an extremely successful event.”
Riding off the victory of these past events, the Associate Board is more motivated than ever to help CJE for the long haul. “Some members are joining their first-ever associate board. They’re really excited, and they want to get more involved.”
Levy credits the Associate Board for its valuable leadership opportunities and flexibility in level of involvement for younger civic and business leaders seeking a rewarding challenge, but have concerns about adding too much to their already fast-paced lives: “If you want to give back in the community and are motivated to support an organization, our Associate Board really hits it on all aspects—networking and events, education and outreach, fundraising, recruitment and volunteering,” says Levy. “There’s all these different ways to get involved and it’s also not too overwhelming. It’s a great stepping stone to acquire new leadership skills, to help a larger organization, be creative, and to link with your network and communities.”
It’s also a great way to meet fellow young leaders who are working together toward one shared goal of bettering CJE and the community: “Our board is so dynamic. We have doctors, attorneys, health care providers, salespeople, and real estate folks,” says Levy.
“We’re open to different levels of participation and we’re all ears for any creative ideas. It’s just great to have that flexibility and opportunity in a lot of different realms. As the Chair, I hope that as we grow this board, we can continue to make sure everybody is getting a chance to pursue their passions.”
To learn more about the CJE Associate Board, please visit www.cje.net/associateboard.