By T LUNGWITZ
It’s only been six short years since my life took an unexpected turn after I was introduced to Jewish National Fund-USA (JNF-USA) and took my first trip to Israel. Calling that experience anything other than “life altering” would be an understatement as that inexplicable feeling of “coming home” when you first arrive in Israel was only enhanced by the engulfing feeling of being part of the JNF-USA family.
I never expected six years ago that the word “purpose” would take on a whole new meaning. Yet, as I travelled throughout Israel on JNF-USA’s president’s mission, that’s exactly what happened as I marveled at the great work this special organization is undertaking in the Negev and Galilee.
Visiting Adi Negev – Nahalat Eran, a JNF-USA supported village for people with disabilities in the south of Israel, I walked through the facility feeling astonished at the unprecedented environment that has been created. Every corner was designed to make life better for families who need to address the unique issues faced by their loved ones.
The fact that in one facility I met children, adults, soldiers, and teenagers from all walks of life, all in need of different types of care, made me realize that I am visiting a place like no other in the world.
As we crossed one of the rooms, I heard a baby crying. Loud and unstoppable. I turned around and went to the crib where a Bedouin baby was laying and picked her up. I couldn’t believe it – she stopped crying immediately! Then and there I knew that I came full circle. All my life I’ve worked in healthcare, starting as a maternity and delivery nurse before establishing and running Thema Health Services – a 300 strong homecare and hospice provider – for over thirty years. The crying baby at this amazing rehabilitation village made me realize that my life’s mission blends incredibly well with the ever-expanding mission of JNF-USA.
Later, in a conversation with Russell F. Robinson, JNF-USA’s inspiring CEO, I realized that the rehabilitation village is one piece of the puzzle in the ever-growing tapestry of their work for the land and people of Israel. This and every other project JNF-USA supports also serves as a job-creation entity, housing, and development facilitator, and is part of the ever-expanding mission in developing the Negev and Galilee. I knew immediately that my work had only just begun.
Israel is magical, and there is a ripple effect to every project that JNF-USA supports, always growing in a never-ending desire to do more. The fact that this organization enables us, as lay leaders, to contribute beyond our financial support enhances the feeling of belonging and the sense of community that comes from one’s involvement. To me, JNF-USA is more than a charity – it’s a movement. In serving as a lay leader, I am proud to be a part of one of the most sophisticated entities I’ve ever encountered, and it is the first time where I am part of an organization that turns the heart and soul of its mission into strategic terminologies. It enhances the term Zionism and reinforces my purpose in life.
T Lungwitz is a businesswoman, until recently the owner and CEO of Thema Health Services, a 300-employee strong healthcare company based in Arizona. She currently serves as the Executive Chairperson of the company. She is also the owner of Royal T Arabian, a high-end Arabian horse breeders ranch in Cave Creek, Arizona. She is a member of JNF-USA’s World Chairman Society, Circle of Sapphire +, King Solomon Society, and sits on the Desert States Board of Directors serving as Chairperson of the major gifts committee. She is also co-chair of the planned giving committee for JNF-USA’s national Women For Israel affinity group. In addition, T sits on the board of Adi Negev Nahalat Eran, and initiated and created The Theresa Lungwitz Supportive Care Training Center (TLSC).
Original Post: https://www.jpost.com/opinion/coming-full-circle-on-my-philanthropic-journey-688110