Mitzvah Connection founder brings together both sides in Facebook group
By Deb Silverthorn
Special to the TJP
Find a need, solve a problem: This saying seems like a given, but not everyone makes the connection.
Plano’s Sheri Wald is connecting many needing help, with those wanting to cook a meal, run an errand, donate myriad items, and she’s doing it all from wherever she is, 24/7, without lifting a finger.
Well, maybe just to type on her keypad.
Less than two months after posting to the DJM (Dallas Jewish Moms) Facebook group, 159 people have joined the Mitzvah Connections Facebook page Wald created.
“I went away for a wedding weekend and came back to more than 100 members,” said Wald who has volunteered for many organizations and programs for as long as she can remember. Following in her grandmother’s 40-plus year career volunteering at Golden Acres, and her mother’s long service to Baylor Heart Hospital, she wanted to spend time and energy helping others without making a guaranteed commitment to any one group or to lock her schedule in for a particular time and day each week.
“The list of do-ers, and needers, just needed connecting.”
Wald, the wife of Curtis and mother of Eric and Matt, who works for a family that earlier this year found themselves in the midst of a health crisis, watched that family’s community rally around them. Meals were scheduled and delivered almost faster than they could be eaten and packages were always arriving. It was the spirit of those friends and family members that had her realizing the magnitude of others’ desire to help.
Noticing requests online for many “someones,” to do many “somethings,” it occurred to her to match those in need with those wanting to be there, do that or give of themselves. She is updating and posting a list of nonprofits that need help, and plans a monthly, featured project for participating members to support. Asking group members for their recommendations of groups or people is what community is all about she says, she’s “just” the messenger.
“I saw a post online that someone made about a woman hoping to find a wig that someone might not be using anymore,” Wald said. “That need just pushed me to share with my friends, and the women of DJM, and the response has been incredible. From there, I realized I could set up a way for people to be able to help others, without a significant commitment, and this was just the beginning.”
Helping those in need
Sarah Corekin, a single mother with 12-year-old twin sons, was that woman and there are few words to share her response. In addition to that first request, a meal train has kept her family fed with delicacies of the plate by hearts of people she’s never known.
“I’ve never been so blessed to have met so many fabulous ladies. Each time I’ve met a new person I thank them the best way I know how and that’s with a really big tight hug,” said Corekin who lives in Allen. “I cannot recall each and every lady’s name but everyone who has provided the wonderful and nutritious meals has been outstanding. My boys even made a joke that after we run out of food and I will cook again I will have a hard time making and serving as good of meals as we’ve been blessed to receive.”
In April, 10 years after a first surgery during which she received a shunt to prevent too much fluid from building in her brain, the shunt stopped working. In advance of her next surgery, she mentioned to a friend she wanted to try wearing a wig, rather than have extremely short hair.
“My friend Cheryl suggested I post to the DJM page and what happened was so much more than I could ask for,” Corekin said. “One woman created the meal train signup and I received three wigs. Someone then put me in touch with a hairstylist who brought me a variety of wigs from which to choose from, and this person paid for it. I have been so completely blown away by all of the encouragement and support as well of course for the beautiful hairdo that requires no work from me.”
It was Marlo Michaeli who saw the post on DJM and in reading about the situation, her heartstrings was tugged. “She was looking for a used wig and I knew my hairdresser Azi (Gorbani) did beautiful work with wigs and I thought we could match,” said Michaeli who purchased the piece for Corekin, at a generous discount by Gorbani. Gorbani then delivered the wig to Corekin — a full circle of kindness.
“I just felt that I wanted to help this woman and together we did. A dedicated page to those who need, and who are in need, is awesome.”
Beyond the support that Corekin has received, the Take.Charge.Period. event April 30 found itself new supporters, and volunteers, through the Mitzvah Connections page.
“I posted it and shortly after found Melanie Cooper who signed on as a volunteer,” said Tammi Kollinger, founder of Take.Charge.Period., which delivers menstrual hygiene products to underserved women through Frisco Family Services, GRACE — a nonprofit relief agency, Jewish Family Service and the Vickery Meadow Food Pantry.
“The word is spreading and I’m certain we’ll end up with donations, sponsors and other volunteers. People want to do and be good and Mitzvah Connections is a great way to connect us all, literally,” she said.
There has been a request for a bicyclist who was hit by a car, needing rides to physical therapy. There was a donation of children’s books — picked up by a teacher for her school, a need to help an artist who has created simcha centerpieces for many in the community — whose van was totaled, and a request by Hope’s Seed for gift bags for mothers whose children were hospitalized on Mother’s Day and many more. The variance of request, and ability for members of the community to support, isn’t a surprise to Wald at all.
“There are so many people of every age and every point in life who have so much to give,” Wald said. “Together, we can make smiles happen, fulfill our own need and want to ‘be there,’ and I’m thrilled to see it all happening so quickly.”
To join the page — search Mitzvah Connections on Facebook or visit bit.ly/2r2dZsb.