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Rachel Duncan, Program Manager

Article written by Rachel Duncan

Sometimes holidays can be a hard time for families facing financial challenges.  Centro SOL’s holiday drive tradition is a way to support families with holiday gifts and bring joy to children in our community.  The 2023 Centro SOL Holiday Drive partnered with the Baltimore Family Alliance Adopt-a-Family program. Thanks to a new collaboration with the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, more than 150 children in our community received gifts donated by sponsoring families. 

In this story, we meet Nomi Adams, the Teen and Family Engagement Specialist at Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, and learn more about their passion for connecting with families in our communities.  

Baltimore Hebrew Congregation: Showing Up in Service 

Baltimore Hebrew Congregation (BHC) is one of the oldest synagogues in Baltimore, where it was founded in 1830 as the Lloyd Street Synagogue. Giving back to the community is woven into every BHC event, and its congregants are known for showing up in service to others. They are eager to support families during the holidays, but many may be unfamiliar with where and how to connect with those in need. That’s where Nomi Adams – BHC’s Teen and Family Engagement Specialist – came in. 

Nomi described her joining BHC last year as “kismet” or fate. BHC used to operate a middle school that she attended as a child, but she hadn’t been back in the building since then. At the same time life had led her to look for a way to combine her background in Jewish education with her training and experience in social work, BHC was looking for someone with just her type of experience to connect congregants with impactful community engagement opportunities.   

It All Started With the Teens 

Baltimore Hebrew Congregation’s NextGen 8th-12th grade program is where the idea for BHC to adopt Centro SOL families started. BHC teens have a tradition of going to a department store next door to a bowling alley every year around the holidays for a service-oriented social outing. First, they shop in the store for community members in need, and then they bowl. This year, BHC partnered with Baltimore Family Alliance to identify the children for whom they would shop. Soon, BHC extended the adopt-a-family initiative to the entire congregation, and Nomi saw the opportunity to remove a barrier to participation by collecting gifts at the synagogue and delivering them to Centro SOL for distribution.   

Centro SOL Community Members 

Thanks to the generosity of BHC congregants and the other sponsoring families who participated in this year’s adopt-a-family program, more than 150 children in our community received gifts of toys and clothing for the holidays.  We look forward to continuing our partnership next year and are grateful to both BHC and Baltimore Family Alliance for making this year’s holiday drive a success. 

Learn more about the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation on their website – https://www.baltimorehebrew.org/  

To support our Holiday Drive project and other efforts at Centro SOL, donate now https://jhcentrosol.org/get-involved/donate/ 

Article written by

Rachel Duncan

Operations Manager

Centro SOL – Center for Salud/Health and Opportunity for Latinos

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