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Where Cincy Jewish group gave its final donation

Posted at 5:51 PM, Jan 08, 2016

CINCINNATI -- The National Council of Jewish Women’s Cincinnati Fund has decided to shut down and give its last grant to a longtime beneficiary, Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region.

The $5,000 grant was turned over in a small ceremony Friday at the Planned Parenthood Mount Auburn Health Center. It was a day of mixed emotions for the fund’s president, East Walnut Hills resident Andrea Herzig.

“Sorry to see it end, but not surprised,” she said of the fund. “Happy to be able to give our last grant to an organization who serves women the way we have always wanted to help women.”

“Our health care center staff is excited to have this kind of support,” Southwest Ohio Region development director Crystal Justice said of the grant. The local chapter hopes to raise $1 million this year locally to benefit its reproductive health care operations, she said.

Such gifts are even more meaningful because of recent attempts to eliminate federal and state funding for Planned Parenthood, she said, and because new legal restrictions placed on abortion providers.

The local chapter of the NCJW has donated to Planned Parenthood locally for about the past 10 years, Justice said, but individual members of the NCJW living in Cincinnati have donated since Planned Parenthood opened its doors in Cincinnati in 1929.

Members of the NCJW have also served as volunteers at the local chapter, including helping patients feel welcome.

“That’s really important,” Justice said. “Sometimes when you’re pulling in through the protester line, it’s not very welcoming.”

Formed 120 years ago, the Cincinnati chapter of the NCJW has always been about helping women, Herzig said. One of its earliest efforts in the late 1890s and early 1900s was to help immigrant women find jobs and a safe place to live, she said.

Herzig joined the Cincinnati chapter when she moved here in 1975. At that time, there were hundreds of members, most of them college-educated women who didn’t work outside the home. Their research into societal problems led to the creation of several local nonprofits, she said, such as 4C for Children and Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters, along with raising money to fund the nonprofits they created.

“It was very intense involvement,” she said. Members sometimes called themselves “professional volunteers.”

“They trained us to be advocates, they trained us how to run a committee, how to look at budgets, how to understand how the problems we researched affected society,” Herzig said. “It was like getting another education.”

She also appreciated the camaraderie with women who cared about society as she did, and the relationships with older women whom she looked to for advice.

But as society changed and women began working outside the home, the number of volunteers began to dwindle. In 2010 the local chapter became a fund, giving grants to organizations such as Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, the Council on Child Abuse, Jewish Cemeteries of Greater Cincinnati, Pleasant Ridge Montessori School and United Cerebral Palsy of Cincinnati.

This year, with only 10 active members, the fund leadership decided to turn the remaining endowment of $100,000 to the national organization, which Herzig said would continue to use to help women and children, but not on a local basis.

“Planned Parenthood is humbled and grateful to receive this organization’s last grant,” Southwest Ohio Region President Jerry Lawson said in a news release. “We thank them for their immense service to Planned Parenthood and to the entire community.”