SWJC spearheads program to nourish first responders
Photo: Randall Stewart Photography
Dallas firefighters display their meals along side a member of the Havin’ A Ball Catering team April 18. The firefighters are grateful recipients of SWJC’s Building Bridges-Feeding Heroes and Feeding Neighbors in Need project.

By Daniela Appel
Special to the TJP

In response to the challenges created by the novel coronavirus outbreak, Southwest Jewish Congress (SWJC) wants to spread kindness and compassion to those making immense sacrifices.
A 10-year-old organization that aims to enhance the community’s understanding of diversity from the lens of Jewish culture and history, SWJC’s Building Bridges Grant Initiative allocates funds to local nonprofits, even in the midst of this global crisis.
The SWJC Building Bridges-Feeding Heroes and Feeding Neighbors in Need project, spearheaded by its project manager Cindy Ray, provides nourishment to those working tirelessly to keep the community safe by serving meals to police, fire and medical personnel. “The driving force behind this program was the idea that if this virus can spread like wildfire then our love and compassion can, too! We want to show our appreciation for first responders who are putting themselves on the front line and at risk every day,” Ray said.
SWJC board member Scott Butnick added, “These efforts are amplified by the support of others wanting to make a difference. Service opportunities can feel scarce in light of social distancing procedures, so community members have been excited to be able to give back. “[The] community support has been tremendous, and we have been receiving very generous donations since day one. Everyone appreciates the opportunity to make a difference while social distancing at home.”
And these efforts are not going unnoticed — first responders appreciate the community’s recognition of their hard work and sacrifices, especially during this perilous time. “The first responders are very grateful! They’ve been so gracious and appreciative of the delicious meals provided. It’s so heartwarming to them that our community cares for them and their safety,” Ray noted.
Additionally, the Feeding Heroes project has been able to employ food service workers equipped to conform to safety protocols. By partnering with Kim Whiting and Havin’ a Ball Catering coupled with the community’s support, SWJC has provided 353 meals to 11 different groups of first responders in its first two weeks. As it ramps up, SWJC plans to serve more than 300 meals in the coming week. However, to continue this work, SWJC needs continued community support.
Everything donated is met with immense appreciation and all efforts make a big difference in SWJC’s mission. “[You can] take action today and make a donation by visiting our website at swjc.org. Every dollar you donate will go directly to feeding our heroes and neighbors. The donor’s contribution is tax-deductible to the full extent allowed by law. You can follow along with the great work being done by our community on the website,” added Ray.
The grassroots effort kicked-off with a $2,000 allocation by SWJC for the first 200 meals served. At presstime Tuesday, the organization had raised at least an additional $12,500. All donations go directly toward feeding the responders.
For any questions or feedback regarding the Feeding Heroes project, SWJC can be reached at feedingheroes@swjc.org.

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