“Embracing the values of tikkun olam (repairing the world) and tzedakah (charity and social justice) — along with an increased understanding of others’ needs — has brought diverse groups together. Together we have opened a dialogue and highlighted how the Jewish community values all our neighbors and desires to do all we can for everyone.” – Jessica Zachs, Founder and Chair of Dignity GrowsTM
Of the many gifts an individual can give or receive, the gift of dignity is one of the most meaningful. Since its founding at Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford in 2019, Dignity Grows has provided over 15,000 gifts of dignity – in the form of discreet totes filled with menstrual and other hygiene necessities for our neighbors in need. Dignity Grows Totes, lovingly assembled by Federation volunteers, are distributed by nearly two dozen Distribution Partners who work directly with clients across Greater Hartford. And on May 24, Dignity Grows convened its local Distribution Partners in a virtual roundtable to grow relationships and share best practices. Participants included leaders from Charter Oak Boxing Academy, Hartford Hospital Brownstone Women's Clinic, the Hartford Gay & Lesbian Health Collective, Asnuntuck Community College Food Pantry, COMPASS Youth Collaborative, the newly formed Goodwin University Food Pantry, and Grace Episcopal Church Soup Kitchen.
Several participants said their agencies have been able to expand their reach and serve more community members because of their connection to Dignity Grows. The totes have been an especially important resource for teen and young adult clients, who often can’t afford to purchase hygiene supplies.
"We are proud to be a Dignity Grows Distribution Partner,” said Christina Rossi, co-president of the Hartford Hospital Auxiliary. “Our partnership aligns with Hartford Healthcare’s mission to improve the health and healing of the people and communities we serve, and it allows us to provide much-needed sanitary totes to Hartford residents through the Brownstone Clinic and the Women's Ambulatory Health Clinic. Dignity Grows also connects us with other organizations with similar goals. It brings the caring community closer together.”
Many local Distribution Partners have become involved through their relationships with the initiative’s 300-plus local volunteers. And some — such as COMPASS and Charter Oak Boxing Academy — encourage their staff and young adult members to take an active role, participating in Dignity Grows Packing Parties and developing relationships with Federation leaders.
“One of the most exciting aspects of the program has been the flourishing, organic relationships between Dignity Grows, our Distribution Partners, and Federation. We share the common goal of helping our neighbors in need — and together, we have opened a dialogue between diverse communities,” adds Jessica Zachs, the initiative's founder and chair.
At the end of the day, Dignity Grows’ virtual roundtable was a prime example of Greater Hartford’s Jewish community doing what it does best: serving as a compassionate, caring connection point for the community at large.
Want to get involved? Just $10 will fill a Dignity Grows Tote with a full month supply of menstrual and comprehensive hygiene necessities for a neighbor in need; click here to donate. For more information, click here or contact Jennifer Schwartzman.
Photo caption: Dignity Grows Totes going to the Brownstone Clinic at Hartford Hospital for distribution. Image courtesy of Dignity Grows.