Welcome to our second Women of Impact profile! Each month we’ll get to know a woman, nominated by you, who is making an impact in our community. For this month’s profile, Meredith Chandler spoke with Faith Helene, a longtime Federation supporter who has nearly countless volunteer positions across our community. She was nominated by Marcia Mizrahi, a longtime Federation supporter, member of The Emanuel Synagogue, and volunteer with the Jewish Children’s Service Organization (JCSO).
What inspired you to get involved in our Jewish community?
My father always said that one should do a mitzvah and that just talking about it wasn’t enough.
I feel that I was given my ability to do things from G-d. I am very thankful that I have been healthy and I have a healthy family, so I wanted to help others. I can give back because I have been given so much. Volunteering has given me an additional purpose in life. I am now a daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, friend and volunteer.
What have you done to make a positive impact?
I began volunteering in high school and never stopped. I am co-president of Hadassah. I was JCSO’s financial secretary for more than 20 years and am now its co-president. I’m a Life Director of the Jewish Association for Community Living. I serve on The Emanuel Synagogue’s Board of Trustees and was financial secretary of The Emanuel’s Sisterhood. I’ve also been involved in the National Council of Jewish Women, USY, ORT, the Hebrew Home Auxiliary, Brandeis, and many other organizations.
On the professional side, I worked in the business office of West Hartford Public Schools for 23 years. I had to do my volunteer work during my downtime at home, but I kept at it. My professional life also influenced my volunteering choices. For example, I became friendly with the mail carrier at our office, who was active in Special Olympics, and as a result I became an active Special Olympics supporter for a long time.
Like the old commercial, my kids often say, “Do you know where Mom is tonight?” I am so involved in various organizations that I need separate baskets at home for each one to keep things organized!
What was your greatest setback, and what is your proudest accomplishment?
My greatest setback has been the loss of close family members, including my parents. Four years ago, after my husband passed away, I had to decide whether I was going to fall apart or get going. I chose to see it as an opportunity to get even more involved, because now I had more time for even more activities.
My proudest accomplishment is my family: three children and seven grandkids.
What role has Judaism played in your life?
Judaism is a very important part of my life. I have been a member of Emanuel for over 75 years, beginning as a young child. The temple is like my second home. My children say, “Why don’t you sleep there?” My husband was always very supportive of my work. I attend services every week as well as committee meetings, and I help with the daily minyan.
Is there any advice you’d like to share with other women?
Stay engaged! It’s important to take care of yourself – and it’s also important to help others who aren’t as fortunate as you. Don’t be selfless, but don’t be selfish either.
I would like to share a quote that has been meaningful to me throughout my life:
“If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
If I am not for others, what am I?
And, if not now, when?”
To nominate a Jewish woman from Greater Hartford to be featured in a Women of Impact profile, contact Meredith Chandler, Associate Vice President of Development and Women's Philanthropy, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 860.727.6125.