Social Action at Solel – Part 1

by John Lewsen, June 29, 2022

“Hillel said: Do not separate yourself from the community”*

Social action has always been a defining component of what Solel does and stands for. While our commitment to social action may have been less visible to our members during the COVID pandemic, the work continued and has been meaningful. I want to take a moment to update our members on a few of the more recent initiatives that support the communities in which we live, thank our members who have been managed to maintain their commitment during this difficult period, and encourage others to join us and start new ones– or tell us about ones that I have missed.

Our interfaith Pathway housing operations had another successful year in 2021 and did so while also successfully implementing safety measures and protocols to protect the health of Pathway’s tenants and staff. With the return to full operations, Pathway is continuing its commitment to community programs. It has also successfully navigated funding for an expansion of its Arbor Mill building which will result in a major milestone achievement: the addition of six new affordable housing units to its portfolio. Meanwhile, Pathway Housing and Support Services operation (PHSS) is continuing to provide affordable housing management services to other not-for-profit housing providers and is looking to expand this service by responding to new requests for proposals. Solel members are well represented on the three operating boards and continue to provide strong strategic and governance leadership that have contributed to the maintenance and growth of these crucial affordable housing and community initiatives.

During the past year, Women of Solel (formerly, Sisterhood of Solel Congregation) along with Erin Mills United Church, and Solel participated in an interfaith initiative for COVID 19 Vaccinations. They successfully raised almost $1,200 or approximately 500 double doses for the Love My Neighbour project which provides vaccines to global neighbours. More recently, they ran a successful Afghan Baby Bundle campaign raising over $3,500 to help newly arrived immigrants in the Peel Region. Women of Solel have continued our Bingo fundraising efforts which enables us to support various organizations in Mississauga including Erinoakkids, Heart House Hospice, Embrave (formerly Interim Place), Pathway Breakfast Club, and Our Place Peel. While we endured months of lockdown at various times over the past two years, Bingo still provided us with revenue. Since 2020, Women of Solel were able to donate $18,000 to these organizations, while providing an equivalent amount directly to Solel. Women of Solel also contributed $500 to purchase gift cards for the kids of the Pathway Breakfast Clubs at Christmas.

Meanwhile, a small group of members have been working with Jewish Immigrant Aid Services (JIAS), the only Jewish social service agency in the country solely dedicated to providing settlement services to immigrants and refugees. JSIS does this in part by setting up and facilitating a series of welcome circles, and teams of 5 to 8 volunteers who work with either an individual or family unit in Canada for the period of six months to one year. The circle’s goal is to provide coordinated, wraparound support including airport pickup, help to secure housing, English language acquisition and registering children for school. Solel members are already involved in one such circle that is supporting a Ukrainian female Jewish refugee. JIAS have approached us to find out if we have any members who could help with two other new non-Jewish Ukrainian families living in Mississauga. The work is similar to what a group of us did for the Syrian refugee family that we supported in 2018.

On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank each and every member of Solel who devoted their expertise and volunteer time to these and other Solel social action initiatives. We would also love to hear about and feature other initiatives that our members are involved so that I can feature these a second or third installment of this blog topic later in the year. Finally, if you are not already involved but feel inspired and motivated to be part of this Solel Tikun Olam movement, please feel free to reach out to the office, myself, or any member of the Board and let us know about your areas of interest — or other areas where you feel we could be supporting our broader communities.

* Book of Legends /Sefer H-Aggadah, Chapter 5: The Community, the State, and their requirements, p722

Filed under: President's Message

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