Giving Back: Why We Do What We DoSupporting Two amazing Endeavors: Birthday Angels, and The Boys and Girls Club of Northern Westchester By Jay Schecter
As we approach our official Grand Opening celebration, we want to talk plainly about our business, our goals, and our promise. Karen and I are certainly no “spring chickens,” but all jokes aside, with that comes a significant advantage: we can draw from our observations and experiences to establish a business that, we hope, can at the least help to address issues and problems that the world faces each day.
As children of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, we grew up to be socially aware and conscious of the world around us, with a view toward making the world a better place. Many years have passed and much has happened since then, not all of it good. As we raised a family here in this wonderful, diverse village of Mount Kisco, we tried to instill in our children, through both word and deed, the concept of social awareness and consciousness. We like to think that they have learned these lessons and really made them their own.
When we decided to open the Aesthetic Sense: Goods for the Soul, we drew from many life lessons, and felt strongly the need to give voice to those who are most in need of defenders and advocates. We know that we are but a small part of a larger community, whether it be the Jewish community at large or the Mount Kisco and northern Westchester community. Inevitably, this brought us to one of Hillel’s most famous teachings: ““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?” These teachings in turn led us to make a commitment:
Our business would not only be about profits. It also would be about justice, fairness and compassion.
As a practical matter, how does this translate?
In short, we are setting aside a portion of our profits for the benefit of those who are most vulnerable in today’s world: our children. After wrestling with our decision as to which charities to support, we decided that supporting two very worthwhile child-centered programs, Birthday Angels in Israel and the Boys and Girls Club of Northern Westchester here in Mount Kisco, is consistent with everything we believe.
Birthday Angels has a goal that resonates with us: no child should go without celebrating his/her birthday. To make sure that every child, no matter his or her circumstances, has this opportunity, Birthday Angels has put together a “birthday kit,” a sort of “how to” for volunteers (including Israeli teenagers) who put together these parties which are frequently held in community centers. Of course this is heartwarming, but there is also real science behind the concept of a child celebrating a birthday. There have been many studies that show that simply celebrating one’s birthday in this public way reinforces a child’s self-esteem and personal growth. We salute Birthday Angels’ founder and the many volunteers who work to make this program a success. It is easy to see why we found supporting this organization so compelling.
In northern Westchester, and especially Mount Kisco, there are many organizations doing good work with and for children. Having lived here for over 30 years, we have seen the growth and evolution of the Boys and Girls Club of Northern Westchester. The tagline that “it’s all about the kids” was as true in the 1980’s as it is today (we should disclose that Jay is a member of the Board of Directors of the organization). Thanks to its current CEO and previous Executive Director, as well as an engaged staff and Board of Directors, it has emerged not only as a positive place for kids to have fun and grow, but also to mature, learn valuable leadership and mentoring skills, and be safe. We feel that, as a community, we need to support the Club’s efforts and goals. It is right down the street from our flagship gallery and we hope to engage some of the Club’s kids to become involved with the teens who volunteer with Birthday Angels.
Our belief: By supporting both organizations and encouraging interaction between the two, the world will become just a bit smaller and more welcoming.
And so, this is our story. We are excited to translate our goals into actions and be successful in what we are doing and propose to do. Indeed, if not now, when?
“I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier”
“The Greatest Love of All,” Written by Michael Masser and Linda Creed, performed by many artists, including George Benson and Whitney Houston.
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