Brian Puffer says his volunteer work has made Tucson feel more like home, and his new life here is starting to bloom. Puffer, 19, grew up in Tempe, Ariz., and moved to Tucson after enrolling in a two-year residential program at Chapel Haven West, a school and transitional home that provides support, educational classes and vocational training for young adults with developmental disabilities.
For the last three months, Puffer has worked at 1st Rate 2nd Hand Thrift Store, a nonprofit secondhand store partnered with more than 25 local Jewish organizations.
“And I chose to work here because Chapel Haven West has a good relationship with the store here, and the people here are nice and friendly,” says Puffer. “It’s a good job to have.”
Fourteen children enrolled in Our Family Services, a local program that provides support for homeless families and youth, pack a small conference room on a crisp Saturday morning, listing their future goals, decorating coloring sheets and snacking on cheese sticks.
Linda Solomon, a Tucson native and founder of Pictures of Hope, starts the day with a slideshow of her celebrity photographs and professional tips.
The children have no trouble identifying Beyonce, and they erupt with cheers when a picture of actor Will Smith followed. But how did Solomon get her dog to smile for a photograph, she asks the lively group. She used the age-old industry secret: doggie biscuits.
Tucson Hebrew Academy’s “Developer of Dreams” Tikkun Olam Celebration honoring the late Donald Baker will be a promotion of visionary ideals, says Deborah Baker (no relation), alumni coordinator at THA. This year will be an intimate community event because of Baker’s untimely death, she says.
“There are people who have a deep connection to Don that have some stories to share, and it’s really sentimental,” she says. “This is like a love letter from our community to Don. And this is about leaving people inspired by his contribution and how he spent his life making a difference.”
Tucson women at the International Lion of Judah Conference in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 12, (L-R): Ellyn Gold, Shelly Silverman, Phyllis Maizlish, Leslie Glaze, Karen Katz, Judy Berman, Jody Gross, Melissa Goldfinger and Fran Katz (Courtesy Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona)
A delegation of nine Lions of Judah from Tucson attended the biennial international conference in Washington, D.C. to discuss philanthropic programs, ideas and stories of strength.
Judy Berman, a local philanthropist, has been a Lion for about 10 years. She has attended three conferences thus far but this year’s event was life-changing, she says.
“I doubled my pledge this year after realizing what good work the Lions do all over the world,” says Berman. “The conference was so uplifting and amazing, and I loved the fact that each speaker was better than the next.”