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Camp Impact changes lives for the better

Camp Impact changes lives for the better

Posted on 07 February 2018 by admin

By Ben Tinsley

btinsley@live.com

Special to TJP

Melissa Rodriguez, a senior Communications Studies major at the University of Texas at Arlington, said Camp Impact has changed her life for the better.

What started out as a week of summer escape for this 23-year-Grand Prairie girl quickly evolved into a life mission for her. At age 4, she was one of the youngest campers at the camp. Now, many years later, she is its arts and crafts director.

“I became who I am because of this camp,” Rodriguez said. “The camp has changed my life. The camp IS my life. There’s no other way to explain it.”

Camp Impact is made possible through efforts from the Jewish teenage leadership of Dallas and Tarrant County — although not all members of this hard-charging leadership are Jewish, said Lance Friedensohn, camp director.

Each summer, the camp invites roughly 125 underprivileged or homeless campers to attend the camp, at no charge.

Camp Impact provides disadvantaged children from Arlington and Grand Prairie with swimming, sports, arts and crafts, science experiments and even cooking classes.

According to its literature, the camp helps break “cycles of despair, neglect and violence” that many campers have to face daily. The organization provides activities to children ages 4-12.

Additionally, Camp Impact promotes social responsibility to both campers and counselors and staff. Camp Impact counselors range from high school freshmen to graduating seniors.

As many as 60 counselors — 95 percent of them area Jewish high school students — participate. The camp is located in South Dallas just north of Interstate 20.

The all-volunteer camp was launched by Congregation Beth Shalom in Arlington in 1996 as a three-day program. Friedensohn said he has volunteered since high school.

Many of the teenagers who participate as counselors to children in need also help raise funds for the $45,000 budget the camp needs each year, the director said.

It’s a day camp for campers but a full-time camp for counselors. The campers are there from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. The counselors help plan the week’s events.

“Camp Impact is one week, one session,” Friedensohn said. “We go full throttle and then we’re done.”

Each summer the camp generally hosts more than 125 children.

“We try not to turn anyone away,” Friedensohn said.

Children are referred to the camp by social workers from local shelters such as SafeHaven of Tarrant County, the Arlington Live Shelter, Brighter Tomorrows and Title 1 Elementary schools such as Webb and Bonham Elementary.

“The counselors dedicate their year-round effects to fundraising,” Friedensohn said. “They also pay to come to this camp — to come work and volunteer.”

Counselor Rodriguez’s first experience with the camp came about because of her older sisters. At the request of her family, camp rules were adjusted to allow the very young Rodriguez to join them at the camp.

“My family lived in a small apartment complex in Grand Prairie, about a street away from where the camp picked us up,” Rodriguez said. “We kept going back, and every year we would experience something completely new — to us. Like, roller skating , swimming, cooking and many other things. We also learned about the importance of giving back to the community.”

By age 12, Rodriguez had attended the camp for nearly a decade, and was approached by camp officials about becoming a counselor. Her answer was, “yes!”

“I instantly fell in love with the kids,” she said, “I really knew what they were going through because it was the same stuff I experienced. … This has been part of my life for many, many years and as I’ve grown, I have seen myself more and more in a higher role. A bigger capacity. When I graduate college I want to be a member of the camp board of directors. And I have already talked with them about joining after graduation.”

Rodriguez is not Jewish. She is the child of immigrants and the first person in her family to attend college. Her life before Camp Impact was a flurry of law enforcement intervention, shelters and little outside support.

“The camp has literally been my support system throughout my college career,” she said. “My dad has been in and out of jail. We’ve lived from place to place. I didn’t want that life. I knew my only way to get out of the situation was to be like the people I knew at the camp. … To be somebody in life.”

While at the camp, Rodriguez said, she has received from her colleagues many of the affirmations about school and higher education that one normally receives from parents.

“These were the positive people in my life who made sure I was doing well in school and that I knew how to do well,” Rodriguez said.

Rachel Cooper, who is Jewish, is president of the Camp Impact board of directors and also helps run the camp as a co-director.

“I first started volunteering with Camp Impact at age 14, as part of the youth group with Congregation Beth Shalom,” Cooper said. “I started working there, and then as I grew up and … when the previous director stepped down and asked Lance to take over, I let Lance know I wanted to help him with the background and things blossomed from there. I hold this very close to my heart.”

Much like Rodriguez, Cooper believes her experience with Camp Impact at such a young age played a great role in molding her character.

“It really did help me — like 100 percent,” she said.

Mollie Sloter, 18, a Jewish Trinity Valley High School senior from Fort Worth, has also volunteered at Camp Impact for many years. She said she is applying for the position of “student director” this summer.

Sloter generally performs whatever tasks are needed and currently helps keep supplies together.

“My sister is a freshman who also (participates in) Camp Impact,” Sloter said. “There are a few other kids in the school who do it as well. I’m sure multiple freshman and a few eighth-graders will join us as first-year counselors.”

Getting each year’s camp prepared involves a lot of organization, shopping and flawless execution, Sloter said.

The camp, meanwhile, is becoming well-known for its yummy breakfast, lunch and afternoon snacks, and the promotion of oatmeal as a dish to be enjoyed, she said.

“Lance’s mom is in charge of all the food, but she becomes ‘The Oatmeal Lady’ with a bucket of oatmeal,” Sloter said. “Even if kids don’t like it at first, she tells them this elaborate, ridiculous story about how oatmeal is good for them but it somehow got stolen … By the end of the week she has them loving the oatmeal.”

ONLINE: https://www.
campimpact.org/

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Maccabeats, Howie Mandel go #FedProud for Dallas Community’s annual fundraiser

Maccabeats, Howie Mandel go #FedProud for Dallas Community’s annual fundraiser

Posted on 01 February 2018 by admin

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Over 1,000 attend Dallas Federation’s annual fundraiser

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

The Dallas Jewish community gathered Sunday evening, Jan. 28, at SMU’s McFarlin Auditorium for the Jewish Federation’s ONE Night fundraiser and celebration of unity.
Sandwiched between an upbeat, warm performance by the Maccabeats and an edgy, hilarious comedy set by Howie Mandel, were remarks reflecting the essence of what Federation is all about.
Board Chair Mark Kreditor reiterated the Federation’s mission to support the local Jewish community, Jews in need abroad and Israel.

“It is our hope now that charitable giving to your Federation is no longer done because of guilt, but because of pride,” he said.
Kreditor emphasized that, as the campaign grows, the good work of the Federation grows with it. Additionally, charitable giving is good for the human spirit and soul.
“Don’t give until it hurts, give until it feels good,” Kreditor said, quoting Nate Levine. “Tonight, we are hoping to make every single one of you feel very, very good.”
Sandi Bodzin, Rob Solls and Dora Klaff, three direct recipients of Federation resources, shared how the organization had influenced their lives.
Bodzin, who lost her husband Mark in October to a rare and aggressive form of frontal lobe dementia, explained that the Federation cared for her family and connected them with JFS and The Legacy at Home.
“We were proud, hardworking, self-sufficient people and as much as we could or should have planned, nothing could have prepared us for this situation,” she stated. “The Jewish Federation provided us with some financial support for our in-home care needs and later Mark stayed at The Legacy Memory Care Unit.”
She went on to say that the warmth of the Jewish community and Federation made her and her family’s life measurably better.
“Tonight you will have the opportunity to help so many people whose lives are made better through your gifts,” Bodzin concluded.
Solls spoke about how the Federation impacted many phases of his life: preschool at Solomon Schechter (now Ann and Nate Levine Academy) and summers at JCC camps as a child; BBYO in high school; UT Hillel in college; a sibling Birthright trip; and now coming full-circle as a parent of a toddler engaged with PJ Library, the JCC and Levine Academy.
“It is now my generation’s responsibility to step up and support this wonderful organization… It is our time to take the reins and create safe and lasting memories for our families,” he said.
Dora Klaff, Houston Federation staff member and Hurricane Harvey survivor, explained how more than 70 percent of Houston’s Jewish community was impacted by the flooding. Today, more than four months later, Houston is still a community still in crisis.
Klaff evacuated her home as floodwaters rose; it is scheduled for demolition Feb. 5. She explained that, for the Jewish community of Houston, Federation has been their lifeline.
“For some, the Federation provided volunteers to clean out their homes. For others, it was a resource for basic supplies or to have someone to listen. When they were at their lowest they knew their Federation family was there,” she said.
Klaff thanked the Dallas Jewish community for its yeoman support of Houston Jews after the hurricane.
“As a community, you have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to our Harvey Relief Fund,” she said. “After the storm passed, the Dallas Jewish community provided 50,000 kosher meals for those in need and facilitated the distribution of 168,000 desperately needed items sent by the Federation National Young Leadership Cabinet and donated by your own community.”
Klaff continued, adding that  with the support of the national Federation system, Houston has raised almost $20 million to provide emergency financial assistance to families in need and to support the rebuilding of our synagogues, JCC, day schools and senior community.

“There is still work to be done. This is why we need the Federation. This is how we make a difference. This is what we do,” she said.
Presenting sponsor of ONE Night was BB&T. Co-chairs were Angela Aaron Horowitz and Doug French, Jolie and Michael Newman and Natalie and Michael Waldman.

 

 

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Ahavath Sholom to sell 5-plus acres with senior living community in mind

Ahavath Sholom to sell 5-plus acres with senior living community in mind

Posted on 25 January 2018 by admin

IMG_1438By Ben Tinsley
btinsley@live.com

FORT WORTH—Congregation Ahavath Sholom offi cials announced this week they have entered into an agreement with a senior housing developer to create a comfortable, luxury destination community for local seniors.
The specific agreement is for Congregation Ahavath Sholom officials to sell up to 6 acres directly adjacent to their existing synagogue to 4050 Hulen Partners, LLC of Fort Worth. The 6-acre patch includes baseball, soccer fields, and basketball courts on the west side of the synagogue.
By accepting this offer to purchase 5-plus acres for $31.25 per square foot, synagogue officials have effectively countered a $9 per square foot offer from the Fort Worth ISD.
“We have not received a contract from the FWISD,” Michael Linn, Ahavath Sholom executive director, said. “All we received was their letter of intent. Our attorney responded by declining their $9 offer.”
Rhoda Bernstein, a co-chair of the synagogue’s “Focus On The Future” Committee formed about three years ago, said the advent of the future senior facility means now is a great time to be a member of Congregation Ahavath Sholom.
“I am thrilled about this,” she said. “I am absolutely thrilled. We are so excited to sell the land and excited about the senior living facility we feel is ideal for that piece of property. It gives us the revenue we need to do what we want to bring our current facility into the future.”
Congregation Ahavath Sholom acquired the property from Cassco Land Co., Inc. by warranty deed on Aug. 8, 1972, records show. Bernstein said her father, Lou Barnett, 99, was a synagogue leader when the land was acquired, and he is taking pride in being around for the latest development.
“As one of the few remaining from his generation, he is pushing us all the way to do this,” Bernstein said. “We take a lot of pride in that we have been able to be part of his dream.”
Steven S. Brown, a member of the synagogue’s board of directors, a congregant and an attorney, agreed this sale has been a long time coming.
Brown explained, while the synagogue used the property all those years, there were restrictions in place which stipulated the uses of the land.
“A couple of years ago, those deed restrictions, put up at the time the property was purchased, expired,” he said.
Murray Cohen, past Congregation Ahavath Sholom president and Focus on the Future co-chair, agreed this sale should be one of the synagogue’s largest accomplishments.
“The sale will give us the money to make necessary changes to our existing structure,” Cohen said.
Over the weekend, members of the congregation met to discuss the offer from 4050 Hulen Partners LLC and voted overwhelmingly to sell the property to the group, Linn said.
“Our existing structure doesn’t currently meet our need, and we really need to repurpose. It’s much less expensive to repurpose rather than rebuild,” Linn said.
Cohen explained the location is ideal for producing the kind of high-end senior living environment they are seeking, as well as creating a facility that would offer activities, guest speakers, a swimming pool, transportation and extensive parking.
Congregation members said they have been seeking a partner to realize their original property vision of a resort-style retirement community within close proximity of an aging Jewish population and other seniors in the area.
The total project cost is estimated to be north of $70 million, according to a release from the 4050 Hulen Partners. Synagogue officials say it should be a great boon to the local tax base and property values.
“This will meet the immediate independent senior housing needs that have long been underserved in the Hulen area,” the release said. “The development plans include 200 independent units and 48 assisted living units. Additional amenities include state-of-the-art fitness facilities, indoor pool, with a world-class meal plan including a kosher option created by full-time executive chefs. Development will also include a concierge service, health care/physical services and scheduled transportation.”
Meanwhile, Linn said, the property still has to go through a zoning or rezoning process. Once a permit is approved, the complex is expected to take about 18 months to build.

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At 82, Mandell’s ‘second home’ still pool

At 82, Mandell’s ‘second home’ still pool

Posted on 18 January 2018 by admin

Larry Mandell has won 40 swimming medals in the last nine years with records in the 75- to 79-year and 80- to 84-year age brackets.

Larry Mandell has won 40 swimming medals in the last nine years with records in the 75- to 79-year and 80- to 84-year age brackets.

Allen resident still swimming, competing on regular schedule

By Deb Silverthorn
Special to the TJP

When Larry Mandell talks family, cigars and swimming, his face lights up brighter than his collection of swimming medals — and that’s a lot of shiny!
The leap-year “baby” 82-year-old’s triumphs in the pool are still stacking up as he holds five records in the 75-79 age bracket and three in the 80-84 bracket.
“I work out to stay alive and I love being in the pool — I feel great when I swim and it’s that simple,” said Mandell, who lives in Allen and is still competing and training three times a week at the Don Rodenbaugh Natatorium.

Photo: Larry Mandell More important than all the gold medals and records Larry Mandell holds is his family: (back row, left to right) Michelle, David, Robert, Lynne, Larry, and Sheila; (front row) Jason, Tanner, Daniel, Toby, and Tucker Mandell.

Photo: Larry Mandell
More important than all the gold medals and records Larry Mandell holds is his family: (back row, left to right) Michelle, David, Robert, Lynne, Larry, and Sheila; (front row) Jason, Tanner, Daniel, Toby, and Tucker Mandell.

His first memories of his toes in the water are as a 9-year-old at the Jersey Shore. “The water is like a second home — something I can, and hope to, do all my life.”
Born on leap day in 1936, Mandell has sprung through life, every day an “extra,” living to the fullest. With more than 40 medals in the last nine years, his records and gold medals through the Texas Amateur Athletic Foundation (TAAF), in the 75-79 bracket, are for the 50-, 100- and 200-yard freestyle, the 50-yard backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly swim. In the 80-84 range, he’s won three TAAF gold medals in the 50-, 100- and 200-yard freestyle competitions. He’s also won nine gold medals in the Dallas Area Senior Games.
The Newark, New Jersey, native has been married to his beloved Sheila for 54 years, the two introduced by Larry’s cousin, poolside, a clue to his future beloved. They are the parents of David (Michelle), Robert (Lynne), and Leslie, of blessed memory, and the grandparents of Daniel, Jason, Tanner, Toby, and Tucker.
His time in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War provided many unique opportunities, including service on the USS Ticonderoga (CV-14) in the Mediterranean. Among the treasures Mandell produced over the years is a 1966 photo of Israel, shot by an astronaut. A graduate of NYU with a Bachelor of Science in film, television, and radio production, Mandell was a leader at the Army Pictorial Center, producing training films, research and development, and historical films.
In 1970, the Mandell family moved to El Paso, where for 22 years Larry worked at White Sands Missile Range as the chief of visual information. After retiring as a federal employee with the Department of Defense, Larry began a second career as manager of warehouse and repair of Kurland-Salzman Music.
As a member of El Paso’s Congregation Bnai Zion, Larry was president of its Men’s Club and commander of the Jewish War Veterans (JWV) Post No. 749, and commander and first commander of the JWV Department of the Southwest. He was honored with the National Americanism Award by the JWV, an organization he remains a member of through Dallas’ local Post #256. Sheila served on the boards of the congregation’s Sisterhood, B’nai B’rith Women/El Paso, and the Parent Teacher Organization.
Moving to Dallas in 1999 to be closer to their children, Mandell worked for Brook Mays Music, and the couple reunited with many El Paso transplants from their Jewish community. Members of Congregation Anshai Torah since it began, the Mandells relied heavily on the heart and support of Rabbi Stefan Weinberg when their daughter Leslie was critically ill, and after her passing in 1999.
Mandell taught adult swim lessons at the Tom Muehlenbeck Center in West Plano for eight years, something he’d provided to many sailors during his time in the Navy.

Larry Mandell (back row, center) and Ariel (Richard) Larkey (third from right) and their Weequahic High School swim team, the 1952 city champs, remain close friends, despite the thousands of miles between their homes in Texas and Israel.

Larry Mandell (back row, center) and Ariel (Richard) Larkey (third from right) and their Weequahic High School swim team, the 1952 city champs, remain close friends, despite the thousands of miles between their homes in Texas and Israel.

Attributing his good health to his continued participation in the sport, early in his athletic career he was a member of the 1952 City Champion Weequahic High School swim team alongside Arieh (Richard) Larkey, still a dear friend. The two are separated by miles, thousands of them, as Larkey, a former architect and author made aliyah in 1971. However, they remain close.
“I have only the best of memories of us as young swimmers — and cherished friends — and returning to the sport to compete in my 60s, now just for pleasure, I still believe it’s the best sport,” said Larkey, who visited with his high school friend when the Mandells traveled to Israel many years ago. Their friendship extended to another generation as the Mandells’ children traveled to Israel, staying at Larkey’s home. “Now, thanks to FaceTime and the two of us ‘entering’ the 21st century, we’re able to relive the wonderful feelings of a lifetime friendship.”
A healthy man by diet and exercise, he enjoys a little more relaxing — very little — than his one-a-day stogie that he “mostly” chews on.
“Next to my family, my proud moments are when I win. I train hard for fun and for my health,” said Mandell, who in 2000 had two stents placed after a heart attack. “I changed how I eat, how I exercise, and how I live. There’s nothing I take for granted.” He’s planning to race again later this year.
Setting the example high for his family, Mandell’s lessons aren’t lost on those on the lower branches of his family tree. “He’s amazing and I hope I live the way he does,” said grandson Jason. “Most grandfathers have good advice and stories to tell. He lives every day being healthy and strong and following his own advice. He’s something special and I’m proud of him and glad he’s mine.”
Those words? A shinier prize than any other.

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New year, new you: JFS’ career services offers many resources for job seekers

New year, new you: JFS’ career services offers many resources for job seekers

Posted on 18 January 2018 by admin

Photo by Deb Silverthorn JFS’ Career and Employment Services team (left to right) Phil Konecki, Marina Garcia, Marlene Mickish, Allison Harding and Don Carter, with Mitch Jacobs (not pictured), helps those looking for employment, financial planning assistance, computer skills and much more.

Photo by Deb Silverthorn
JFS’ Career and Employment Services team (left to right) Phil Konecki, Marina Garcia, Marlene Mickish, Allison Harding and Don Carter, with Mitch Jacobs (not pictured), helps those looking for employment, financial planning assistance, computer skills and much more.

Career services department prepares people for new employment

By Deb Silverthorn
Special to the TJP

A new year brings new goals, new challenges, and new hopes, and the Career and Employment Services department of Jewish Family Service may be the key to reaching, beating, making and surpassing all three.

Photo: JFS Volunteer Bradley Rossel and JFS Administrative Services Manager Jennifer Lindsey demonstrate Dell computers in the JFS client computer workroom. The computers were donated by Northpark in 2015 as part of their 50 Years of Giving Campaign. JFS provides computer courses to clients and access to the Internet, among other services.

Photo: JFS
Volunteer Bradley Rossel and JFS Administrative Services Manager Jennifer Lindsey demonstrate Dell computers in the JFS client computer workroom. The computers were donated by Northpark in 2015 as part of their 50 Years of Giving Campaign. JFS provides computer courses to clients and access to the Internet, among other services.

JFS’ career-management specialists provide individualized assistance to identify career options in employment transition focusing on placement, improving job-search effectiveness, achieving career goals and re-employment.
“We start with what the job seeker wants to do, what he or she is good at, rather than what they’ve done because the doors open wider,” said JFS’ Director of Career and Employment Services Allison Harding, working with employment coaches including Don Carter, Mitch Jacobs, Phil Konecki and Marlene Mickish. “We delve intensively into the person’s life to help them find their path.”
The Job Search Resource Center, open Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from noon to 5:30 p.m., and Fridays from noon to 4:30 p.m., provides job leads, networking contacts, job-search information, use of phone, computers, fax, copier and access to the Internet. It furnishes employers, at no cost, with candidates’ resumes and job requisition postings.
“Networking, and the how-to, is a key piece to what we do,” said Mickish — now a JFS career counselor, but one who truly understands the process. She was hired after coming in to look for a job, a mutual fit that was clear after working with her counselor. “The program is engaging and an important piece of the practice.”
Getting help from JFS is as easy as registering for an intake meeting and orientation participation to determine what services are needed. The team meets weekly discussing all prospective clients, determining which counselor is best suited to meet the individual’s needs.
“We validate each person to decide if it’s resume support, technology skills updating, career exploration, networking or a combination of those and other services that we can provide,” said Konecki, who leads a 60-hour computer skills program covering the basics of Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook, Powerpoint and safely navigating the Internet. “We’ll create expectations to determine what’s realistic in creating a future. We’re all a team.”
JFS’ website provides myriad resources: full and part-time job listings, recommendations and contacts for those with and without higher education degrees, those just out of high school, applicants searching for career changes or later-in-life opportunities, and those needing to upgrade their skills.
“Allison’s team and the support they provide are incredible. I had no idea our community provided these services but I’m glad it does because it’s made a huge difference for me and my family,” said Jay Hamby, whose job was recently downsized. Having worked with one company for 19 years, and another for six, it took Hamby less than three months, meeting with JFS’ professionals every two weeks, to find his position as general manager of the Allen Premium Outlet Mall.
“When we first met, Allison took my resume and let me know prospective employers would look at maybe one-fourth of it. She coached me through reworking the resume, how to handle a phone interview and negotiate for myself, and how critical networking is,” said Hamby. “If I hear of someone looking for work, in a whole new way, I’ll do anything I can to help.”
JFS’ support team, part of the Working Families Success Program, also helps those, employed or not, to prepare for their financial futures through free, private, one-on-one financial coaching services.
“We look at the financial part of the clients’ lives because it’s important to determine a livable baseline, what’s preferred and what’s ideal, also, creating a budget to pay bills through the course,” said Marina Garcia, who leads the financial counseling program. Garcia noted that many job applications now come with a credit check, and that offers to seemingly otherwise qualified candidates have been rescinded. “Once the client finds employment, we continue to help to re-evaluate and reorganize.”
Entrusting JFS with their support, both economic and in referrals, are the Communities Foundation of Texas, the Dallas Women’s Foundation, the Texas WorkForce Commission, the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, and the United Way.
Services are also tailored for disabled/special-needs individuals, providing direct assistance in job-search training, job placement and on-the-job training, and career counseling and long-term support services are also provided for veterans — more than 150 have been helped — and their spouses and family members.
“Part of what we do is working with a more challenging workforce, developing a new path for some who come to us,” said Carter. He noted that JFS often refers its other services including the food pantry, family violence support, counseling, concerns regarding older adults, and others. “If one of us coaches recognizes additional need, we walk down the hall and find help. We are one.”
“When I lost my job I also lost my confidence, my optimism and a lot of myself,” said Brad Golman, a former salesman, whose 50-member department was closed without notice, leaving him without severance, support or an imminent future. “I met Allison and she helped me not just put my resume together, but she helped me build myself ready to go out and get in front of people. That is a very big deal!”
Golman, who for the last two years has worked for Senior Helpers, providing caregiving services for older adults, ended up in that role when he re-evaluated what he enjoyed doing, rather than what his personal job history was.
“The attitude and enthusiasm of everyone at JFS is caring and kind and so helpful,” said Golman, who appreciated the computer center and many other resources. “We looked at what really mattered to me and caring for my parents is something I love doing — and they introduced me to my current employer. The all-around experience was incredible.”
Carter, speaking for all, guarantees the team, like all at JFS, “treats our clients with dignity and respect, opening doors — and hearts.”
That is the best job of all.
For more information or to register for programs or career and employment services, contact Allison Harding at aharding@jfsdallas.org or call 972-437-9950 and visit jfsdallas.org/services/career-employment/. JFS is a partner agency of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas.

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Transformative experience: MoMENtum trip to Israel gives travelers a unique view into Israel

Transformative experience: MoMENtum trip to Israel gives travelers a unique view into Israel

Posted on 11 January 2018 by admin

The Dallas-area contingent in Jerusalem

The Dallas-area contingent in Jerusalem

By Aaron Greenberg
Special to the TJP

A trip to Israel is expected to be transformative for any Jew. For a group of 28 men from the Dallas area, a Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project MoMENtum trip in October delivered far more than just the wonders of visiting the Jewish state.
Kevin Pailet’s wife, Mahra, is on the JWRP board and convinced him to go. It wasn’t an easy sell. Kevin is on AIPAC’s national board and had been to Israel many times before, primarily on business or organizational trips.
“I told my wife I go to Israel all the time, I don’t need to go on this,” Kevin said.
For others, it was seen as a chance to have fun. Chuck Butler, one of the last to sign up, went on his first trip to the Holy Land looking forward mostly to spending time away with friends.
What they received was life-changing advice, experiences and bonding opportunities — all with a backdrop of Jerusalem and other holy sites. In fact, months later, the entire group remains actively in touch, continuing their growth as Jews, fathers and husbands.
“It’s given me a different lens to engage my wife and kids with, and I’m really happy that I’ve got that lens,” Chuck said.
Chuck recently hosted a dinner for the group, and 26 of the 28 came — the other two being out of town. The bond developed last year is clearly lasting.
“I don’t think I could build these friendships in a normal setting, ever,” he said.
Although the JWRP is best known for its work with and for Jewish women, its focus on family and the success of the women’s trips made the men’s trips a natural next step. Many of the women want their husbands to get a similar experience.
“Because we are an organization that listens to our constituency, the MoMENtum trip was born,” Mahra said.
Her involvement with the board reflects that responsive nature. Mahra reached out to learn how she could do more as soon as she returned from Israel. Within a week, she was working out the next steps with the development department.
It’s not only normal for those who go to want to stay involved — it’s the rule of thumb.

Rabbi Shlomo Abrams and Trip Madrich Billy Warshauer

Rabbi Shlomo Abrams and Trip Madrich Billy Warshauer

“One year later, based on our follow-up, 99 percent still say being Jewish is more important to them,” she said. “98 percent have encouraged family and friends to visit Israel. 75 percent say the trip had a large or life-changing impact on them. We’re sending home leaders.”

A new focus

Most of Kevin’s trips have a very specific focus. He meets with elected officials, members of the military, bureaucrats and experts, he said, and it’s “like attending a conference or business trip that happens to be in Israel.”
On the MoMENtum trips, tourism is secondary. Instead of the skyscrapers and beaches, there’s introspection. Just as with the women’s trips, speakers focus on bettering oneself to improve family life and one’s place in the Jewish community. Charlie Harary, an inspirational speaker, shared his advice on a daily basis, and it hit home for Kevin.
“Once you are out of high school and college and have a family, you are doing very little for yourself,” Kevin said. “On this trip, it’s all guys having the same struggles of how to pause, how to focus on the important things in our lives, to transition away from that treadmill and be present in the moment. That was a big part for me, to learn skills to apply back here in daily life.”
Chuck said that one of his biggest challenges is explaining what he received from the trip without sounding like a zealot.
“When people come back, they want to witness to you about how awesome it is. If you haven’t been through it, these people seem crazy,” he said.
“If I could get people to go, I think they’d be better dads, better husbands, better leaders in the community. I struggle with how to not oversell it.”
He suggests looking at it the way he did — a chance to bond with fellow men. There were several guys he knew well, and others he had met briefly over the years.
Dallas has been very much a part of JWRP since its beginning. Two local rabbis — Nasanya Zakon of DATA of Plano and Shlomo Abrams of the Jewish Learning Center — went on the trip. Jewish Education Texas has also been supportive of JWRP.

Rabbi Nasanya Zakon, Mike Stern and Billy Warshauer enjoy dinner.

Rabbi Nasanya Zakon, Mike Stern and Billy Warshauer enjoy dinner.

“This trip has been a game-changer for men,” said Rabbi Abrams. “We are all running around on the treadmill of life trying to balance our work, family and kids and we tend to forget about our spiritual needs and our power as a Jewish man.
“This trip offers the opportunity to stop and look inside and rebuild our core and renew our relationship with our Jewish identity and God.”
Mahra describes the purpose of JWRP trips as rekindling the spark often lost in the daily grind. As such, it could appeal to a wide range of adults.
Future right of passage?
“I see a future where a JWRP MoMENtum trip becomes a rite of passage much like Birthright or March of the Living is for our children,” Mahra said.
Most of the trip was in Jerusalem, but there was also a day at the Dead Sea and Masada. The Dallas contingent was part of a larger group of about 200, including 13 men, most of who grew up in the Soviet Union, who decided to have a bar mitzvah ceremony atop Masada.
The symbolism was extremely apparent and moving, especially after an F-16 flew over.
“You’re having that emotional moment, you are at this ancient place of Masada with that last stand with the Romans and you are sitting here looking at these families from the Soviet Union, they were not able to live openly as Jews, and here they are in the modern state of Israel with Jewish sovereignty and having their bar mitzvahs,” Kevin said.
The men were also moved by their time in the Old City, especially Shabbat at the Kotel. They prayed and danced with others, befriending several members of Israel’s equivalent to Navy SEALs. Kevin said it felt like barriers were broken down, and Chuck described it as like being at the center of the world.
Rabbi Abrams explained, “Once we step into Israel, something special happens and the guys start bonding and come back with a fresh new perspective as a dad, husband and as an inspired Jew in Dallas.”

A true group

Chuck said there were no real cliques, regardless of who knew whom beforehand. He mentioned a trip to the shuk (traditional marketplace) where several smaller groups started exploring and ended up together.
The experience continues after the men and women come home. They are encouraged to stay connected and get involved.
“Everybody focuses on the trip because that’s what they know,” Mahra said. “They think it’s Birthright for moms. But a participant goes through teambuilding, is educated about Jewish values and has the Israel experience. Then the journey continues when they get home.”

The Dallas contingent

The Dallas contingent

Kevin said his emotional connection to God has changed as a result of Harary’s words. Celebrating Shabbat with family has taken a bigger role in his life, and the Pailets now include blessings over the children and additional songs.
Chuck, who converted about six years ago, is more spiritual than religious, but the experience reached him on multiple levels. He’s looking forward to future trips to Israel, but it’s not to see as many sights as he can.
“I don’t care how many times I go back, I would always spend a few days in Jerusalem,” he said. “It’s the center of it all. I’m looking down at the Kotel, and at this mosque dome, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, there’s every religion, the holiest sites within 15 minutes of each other. It’s an overwhelming thing to see so many people emotionally charged and caring about one place. And it’s not a big place.”

Brett and Adam Diamond at the Kotel

Brett and Adam Diamond at the Kotel

As a group, the Dallas members rotate sharing a Shabbat inspirational message and keep in touch through WhatsApp, meeting when they can.
“We don’t realize as guys how much we also crave connection and friendship,” Rabbi Zakon said. “What is amazing to see is how this trip provides an opportunity for guys to bond. These friendships are only getting stronger since the trip. We have events just for the guys and we all stay and talk over beers for hours.”
“It’s an easy connection. It’s never handshakes, it’s always hugs. It’s a brotherhood,” Chuck said.

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Estate planning with purpose

Estate planning with purpose

Posted on 05 January 2018 by admin

Photo: Sharon Kuhr Photography Nationally known speaker Chris Erblich is flanked by Dallas Jewish Community Foundation’s Chairman of the Board Rusty Cooper (left) and CEO/President Meyer Bodoff at the 22nd annual fall seminar that the Foundation hosts. Chris will return to speak at the DJCF annual meeting Jan. 25.

Photo: Sharon Kuhr Photography
Nationally known speaker Chris Erblich is flanked by Dallas Jewish Community Foundation’s Chairman of the Board Rusty Cooper (left) and CEO/President Meyer Bodoff at the 22nd annual fall seminar that the Foundation hosts. Chris will return to speak at the DJCF annual meeting Jan. 25.

Husch Blackwell’s Erblich offers insights at Annual Meeting

By Amy Sorter
Special to the TJP

Chris Erblich wants people to know one thing about estate planning, something that has nothing to do with estate tax. The managing partner with Phoenix-based Husch Blackwell LLP indicated that “90 percent of wealthy families will go from shirtsleeves to shirt sleeves in three generations.” The reason why wealth tends to be squandered within three generations? “What people don’t spend time on,” Erblich explained “is figuring out ways to pass down values. Passing wealth down without values can be destructive.”
Erblich, who is highly passionate about this topic, will be the main speaker at the Dallas Jewish Community Foundation’s Annual Meeting, which will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 25, at the Aaron Family JCC. There, amid a lavish dessert selection, attendees will learn the importance of values and estate planning, no matter the size of the estate.
“Passing the values down is more important than passing the wealth down,” Erblich noted. “That’s true, whether you’re passing down a dollar, $100, or $1 million.”
Erblich said the fundamental question to be answered concerning wealth is what the money will be used for, beyond the necessities. Philanthropy is certainly important, but even more vital is the reason behind the giving. “People need a purpose,” Erblich said. “They need to know their values.” Such values can differ from family to family, he noted, adding that donating to an organization such as the Foundation helps broadcast a specific purpose of wealth and giving to family members.
Erblich’s information, as well as that passed along from other experts in Annual Meetings past, is what helps make the Foundation’s annual events somewhat different from others of its type. “When people hear the term ‘Annual Meeting,’ they think about a bunch of tired speeches and nothing else,” said Meyer L. Bodoff, Dallas Jewish Community Foundation president and CEO. Yes, the Foundation January event will have board elections and Sylvan T. Baer Foundation award presentations to Jewish community organizations. But year after year, it is the speakers, and their audience-friendly presentations, that are the main draw. “It’ll be a fun night,” Bodoff said. “Plus, nobody does dessert like we do.”
As an aside, the desserts are being offered up by Taste of the World Catering, and according to Dallas Jewish Community Foundation Director of Scholarships and Programs Mona Allen, they are “show-stoppers.”
Though satisfying the sweet tooth could be considered a decent lure to the event, the main purpose of the Annual Meetings is to encourage all individuals from the community to attend. Bodoff indicated that, as the Foundation represents all age groups, socioeconomic strata and sectors of Judaism — a “true cross-section of the community,” as he puts it — the main speakers are selected to appeal to everyone.
“Last year (2017), Morgan Stanley’s national vice president of philanthropy was the speaker, and she had an excellent presentation,” Bodoff said. “Chris’ presentation will be markedly different.” He went on to say that people don’t generally have the opportunity to learn about estate planning and ways to make a difference, even if they aren’t thousandaires, millionaires or billionaires. “Information like that is typically presented in technical, IRS and legal terms,” Bodoff added. “This presentation will be in a way that the average person can understand.”
And Erblich himself is no stranger to the DJCF. “He spoke a few times to our professional advisors, for continuing education classes,” Allen said, adding that those sessions tended to be more technical, and geared toward an audience of lawyers, estate planners and accountants. Erblich’s most recent presentation to DJCF professional advisors focused on handing down values in tandem with wealth. The topic resonated, and Allen said the presentation would be perfect for the Annual Meeting. Furthermore, “Chris will be presenting in a way that is geared toward non-professionals, helping them gain from his insights and understanding,” Bodoff said.
As for Erblich, he considers it an honor to present at the DJCF event. “It’s my honor to have this opportunity,” he said. “This group truly has an incredible purpose and mission that is impacting other people, and I’m thrilled to be doing this.”
The Dallas Jewish Community Foundation’s 2018 Annual Meeting will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 25, at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center, 7900 Northaven Road in Dallas. Reservations are required by Jan. 18. For more information, visit http://www.djcf.org/annualmeet2018.

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JCRC holds Community Teen Havdalah event

Posted on 05 January 2018 by admin

Submitted report

DALLAS — More than 150 teens gathered on Dec. 9 at the Aaron Family JCC for the first-ever Community Teen Havdalah hosted by the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas.
The program began with a Havdalah service and singing led by the beloved-by-teens music team of Eric and Happie (Eric Hunker and Happie Hoffman), followed by an Israel education and advocacy training led by Rayna Exelbierd, Southeast High School Coordinator of StandWithUs, and Zachary Schaffer, Community Strategy Associate of the Israel Action Network.
The program, titled Israel on Campus: A Reality Check, is an interactive Israel advocacy program that follows modeled civil discourse on issues relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and showcases effective and ineffective conversational skills. Event partners included all local synagogues, Jewish youth groups, StandWithUs and the Israel Action Network of the Jewish Federations of North America.
Following welcome remarks by JCRC Chair Melanie Rubin, teens Noga Even, a member of the JCRC Teen Advisory Council and a StandWithUs intern, and Zach Denn, also a member of the JCRC Teen Advisory Council, introduced Eric and Happie to lead the Havdalah service. After Havdalah, Exelbierd and Schaffer presented tools and strategies for how to participate in conversations about Israel with someone who may hold differing beliefs. Part of the program involved using a small group of teens role playing with the trainers.
“The Community Teen Havdalah was a really special night to gain some knowledge and skills related to Israel. I’m glad so many teens joined us, and am grateful to our Jewish community for putting together this kind of event for teens,” Noga said.
The evening’s program concluded with a song session led by Eric and Happie while teens enjoyed a kosher candy bar and green-screen photo booth, with backgrounds of Israel. Custom-made stadium seat cushions were handed out as free giveaways to the teens in attendance.
“It was so nice to be a part of the Community Teen Havdalah event. Happie and Eric led a beautiful Havdalah service, and I learned a lot from the Israel advocacy trainers about how to better respond to a potentially difficult conversation about Israel on campus, said Sophia Fineberg, member of the JCRC Teen Advisory Council and Shlicha of BBYO’s North Texas-Oklahoma Regional Board.
The Jewish Federation’s High School Impact Committee and JCRC staff planned and prepared for the event with feedback from its Teen Advisory Council. Members of the 2017-18 JCRC Teen Advisory Council are Maayan Abouzaglo, Alec Becker, Rachel Berkowitz, Zach Denn, Noga Even, Sophia Fineberg, Mikayla Gothard, Chandler Kassel, Avery Klatsky, Ben Levkovich, Alexandria (Lexi) Lewis, Eli Minsky, Robert Roseman and Ross Rubin.
“This event is part of a larger and critical initiative in our community to engage our teens in conversations about Israel. We are committed to educating and empowering our youth regarding the complexities of the issues and provide the resources so that they can do their part to support a strong and vibrant Jewish State of Israel. I am grateful for the dedication and diligence of our lay leadership and JCRC staff for putting together such a meaningful event for our teens,” remarked Rubin.
Part of the mission of the Federation/JCRC Combatting BDS Committee is to educate local teens about responding to potential BDS and anti-Israel activity on campus. To that end, the High School Impact Sub-Committee, chaired by Ruthy Rosenberg and Melanie Pinker, continues to engage local teens in educational programming about Israel.
For more information about the JCRC and the Federation’s Combatting BDS Initiative, please visit www.jewishdallas.org/JCRC, call 214-615-5293 or email jcrcdallas@jewishdallas.org.

 

 

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JCRC Community Teen Havdalah

Partner organizations:

  • Anshai Torah
  • Adat Chaverim
  • BBYO
  • Beth-El Ft. Worth — Camp Impact
  • Congregation Beth Torah
  • Congregation Shaare Tefilla
  • Congregation Shearith Israel
  • Congregation Kol Ami
  • Chabad of Plano
  • Israel Action Network of Jewish Federations of North America
  • The JCC
  • Jewish Student Union (JSU)
  • NCSY
  • NFTY
  • Nishmat Am
  • Shir Tikvah
  • StandWithUs Texas
  • Temple Shalom
  • Temple Emanu-El
  • Tiferet Israel Congregation
  • USY
  • URJ Greene Family Camp
  • Yavneh Academy

The event was made possible by a grant from the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas.

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ONE Night to feature comedian Mandel

ONE Night to feature comedian Mandel

Posted on 04 January 2018 by admin

The Maccabeats to provide music

The Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas will host its third-annual communitywide fundraising event featuring comedian Howie Mandel. ONE Night with Howie Mandel, generously presented by BB&T, is chaired by Angela Aaron Horowitz and Doug French, Jolie and Michael Newman and Natalie and Michael Waldman. It will take place at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 28, at McFarlin Auditorium on the Southern Methodist University (SMU) campus.

Howie Mandel

Howie Mandel

ONE Night with Howie Mandel will bring together the Dallas Jewish community as it celebrates the event’s theme, “ONE Night, One Event, One Community.” ONE Night is the Federation’s largest annual fundraising and outreach event of the year supporting the Jewish community in Dallas, in Israel and in more than 70 countries around the world. In addition to a night of community, giving back and laughter, special musical guests The Maccabeats will perform. Last year’s ONE Night with Jim Gaffigan was a huge success with more than 1,300 in attendance raising more than $1 million.
There is no charge to attend the event but a suggested minimum gift to the Federation’s Annual Campaign is required. More information about donating can be found at jewishdallas.org/onenight.
“As immediate past board chair of the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center, it’s a special privilege to serve as an event chair for the Federation’s ONE Night,” said Angela Aaron Horowitz. “Without the support of the Federation, the JCC’s largest donor, we could not remain the vibrant organization serving as the central address for the Dallas Jewish community.” She explains, “The ONE Night epitomizes the very essence of the partnership and support for the entire Jewish community and offers everyone an opportunity to come together to support so many Jewish agencies in the greater Dallas area.”
Mark Kreditor, Federation board chair adds, “I hope every Jewish person in our Greater Dallas community will join us for this amazing evening of laughter and philanthropy. Our Federation has grown and expanded its allocations over the past few years because our community is able to see all the good we do through amazing events like ONE Night. ONE Night is a celebration of our community’s commitment to ensure the safety, success and continuity for every Jew in this community, in Israel and throughout the world. It is my hope we have a very full house. You do not want to miss Howie Mandel.”
The evening’s highlight will be comedian Howie Mandel, who has remained a constant force in show business for more than 30 years. Mandel is executive producer of many shows through his production company Alevy Productions and also serves as one of the judges on NBC’s summer hit talent competition series America’s Got Talent alongside Heidi Klum, Mel B and Simon Cowell. Previously, Howie received an Emmy nomination for “Outstanding Host For A Reality or Reality- Competition Program” for Deal or No Deal and a Daytime Emmy nomination for “Outstanding Game Show Host” for the syndicated version of the show.

Submitted photo The Maccabeats will perform at ONE Night.

Submitted photo
The Maccabeats will perform at ONE Night.

Howie started his career on a dare in Toronto in 1979. During a trip to Los Angeles, he was at the legendary Comedy Store on amateur night and was coaxed by his friends to get up and try his luck. As fate would have it, there was a producer in the crowd who immediately hired him to appear on the comedy game-show Make Me Laugh. His appearance on the show led to talk show appearances, a stint as Diana Ross’ opening act and eventually to the award-winning NBC drama St. Elsewhere, where Howie spent six seasons as Dr. Wayne Fiscus.
Howie has done countless comedy specials on both cable and network television and continues to perform as many as 200 concerts a year throughout the U.S. and Canada. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Terry, and their three children.
To register, visit www.jewishdallas.org/onenight. Tickets are non-transferable and online registration is required.
— Submitted by JFGD Marketing and Communications Director Hillary Burlbaw

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Therapy co-founder hopes to make sizeable hoofprint

Therapy co-founder hopes to make sizeable hoofprint

Posted on 04 January 2018 by admin

Submitted photo Hallie Sheade created a new framework for care in her doctorate thesis. It is known as Spectrum of Therapeutic Equine-Partnered Services, or STEPS.

Submitted photo
Hallie Sheade created a new framework for care in her doctorate thesis. It is known as Spectrum of Therapeutic Equine-Partnered Services, or STEPS.

Sheade’s Equine Connection Counseling growing rapidly

By James Russell
Special to the TJP

Hallie Sheade has a problem: The Fort Worth-based equine therapist cannot turn away clients.
Through her Cleburne-based private practice Equine Connection Counseling (ECC), which specializes in providing counseling and psychotherapy to veterans and at-risk youth through interaction with horses, she sees about 25-30 clients a week. (The waiting list currently hovers at around 80 individuals.)
“I just can’t say no!” she said.
(She still, however, finds time to attend Beth-El Congregation in Fort Worth, where she hopes to eventually join as a member.)
Sheade loves her job in part because she loves horses too. At 2 years old, the Illinois native was the only kid who went on those pony rides at the county fair. Her parents signed up the 5-year-old for horse riding lessons.
“It became my obsession,” she said. She was so obsessed, in fact, her parents steered her sister toward other hobbies.
“They couldn’t afford to have two kids obsessed with horses,” she said.
At 9 years old, she worked at a barn full of horses. She was especially attracted to Cowman, who liked neither people nor other horses, continuing her interest in horse-human relationships.
She studied psychology and biology at the University of Miami and later received a degree in counseling from Georgia State University.
The empathic workaholic who loves her job and horses has the data to prove she needs to provide her services longer than the usual counselor. She noticed that many of her clients were reluctant to end services once treatment goals had been met because they did not want to lose the connection with the horse. Many of them relapsed after termination of services.
For her doctorate thesis at the University of North Texas, where she earned the degree in 2014, she established a new framework for care, known as Spectrum of Therapeutic Equine-Partnered Services or STEPS.
After completing counseling, clients can continue their relationship with the horse by participating in supportive activities designed to help them build upon the progress and skills achieved during counseling. They can become active members of a horse community through which they can deepen their relationship with horses while also connecting with other people who share similar interests and experiences.
“The STEPS model is a revolutionary, one-of-a-kind approach to mental health treatment and ongoing wellness after treatment has ended,” Sheade said. “Counseling works and has a high outcome. But a problem in the mental health field is what happens post-counseling?” she added.
Using the model, in 2017, Heade and her husband, Paul Ziehe, a Marine Corps veteran and a certified therapeutic riding instructor, founded the nonprofit STEPS With Horses. It pairs horses with active and veteran military service members and their families, at-risk youth and others.
The STEPS approach is a great fit for veterans, said Ziehe.
As many as 30 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans suffer from posttraumatic stress, depression or traumatic brain injury and an estimated 22 veterans commit suicide each day. Many of these individuals go untreated, avoid traditional therapies or drop out of treatment prematurely due to the stigma, and sometimes discomfort, associated with seeing a counselor, Ziehe said.
Veteran John Halpin is a former ECC client who did not want to give up seeing his horse, a Belgian named Marshall. Halpin retired from the Marine Corps in 2009 after serving almost 25 years, with the final rank of sergeant major.
“I didn’t come to grips with some of the things I saw in combat and with the Corps in general,” Halpin said. “I started the groundwork with Hallie and picked the horse. He and I just bonded. The comfort and bond with the horse has a calming effect for me. It helps me to forget. It grounds me and helps me out in my daily life. It’s closed the loop for me.”
If Sheade and Ziehe are to help veterans like Halpin, however, they need some help.
ECC currently operates on the site of another nonprofit. But to successfully deliver and expand services, they need their own site. They recently launched a $1.2 million capital campaign with that goal in mind. Funds would go toward acquiring land and facilities and purchasing necessary equipment.
Sheade and Ziehe do not plan to keep STEPS confined to the Dallas/Fort Worth region. They hope to replicate the model elsewhere.
“We need land. But we will start with a barn. It just takes getting one person or a few people to help,” Sheade said.
For more information on STEPS with Horses, visit Stepswithhorses.org.

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