From learning to swim, going to camp, and even getting her first job out of college, the JCC has always been an integral part of Lainna Cohen’s life. “I live right up the street, so Gertie and I love to walk around here all the time.” Lainna’s dog, a German Shepherd named Gertie, is a local celebrity at the J. Just last month, Lainna and Gertie were having fun at the Doggie Dip event. Now Lainna’s focus is on future events for J Cares, a committee here at the J that she just joined last spring.
“The food drive was really meaningful for me,” Lainna said. “We’re providing [children in Washington Township] with resources not just during the summer or during aftercare, but during the full year, and helping kids be successful and their families be successful. That’s the same mentality as when we’re doing the Turkey Drive – helping people feel like they’re part of a community.”
The Turkey Drive is the next big donation drive J Cares is hosting, where they’re giving out gift cards to help families around Indianapolis who are in need this Thanksgiving. “Maybe that’s a turkey, maybe that’s a full dinner, maybe that’s not something for Thanksgiving and what they really need is just their everyday items,” Lainna said. And for some families, there is more in store. J Cares will be inviting around ten families to share a meal with them a few weeks before Thanksgiving, on top of sharing gift cards with them. “It’s really important that we’re not just a transactional committee, but that we’re making those connections with our families.”
“I really love interacting and connecting people with resources”
Lainna’s background is in social work, and she finds joy in connecting with people of all walks of life. “I think J Cares really helps provide resources in different capacities – not in just the J Cares corner [by the Welcome Desk], but in these different ways of helping members of our community.”
Along with the J Cares committee, Lainna was involved with the Bruce Frank-Martin Larner Leadership Academy, a leadership program for prospective JCC board members, in its most recent session. Lainna was inspired to get involved through her dad’s presence at the J. “My dad had been in a similar leadership program when he was younger, and he sat on the board of the JCC for his entire adult life” Lainna said. “I’ve always wanted to be like my dad in that way.”
The J Cares committee is always looking for more help, according to Lainna. She encourages people who are interested in helping the committee to just ask how they can get involved. “Even if you can volunteer an hour of your time, 30 minutes of your time here or there,” Lainna said. “That’s a meaningful impact and a way for you to connect.”
To learn more about or get involved with J Cares, visit the J Cares webpage.