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Moving the Needle

By: Julie Trepeck Harris, Board Secretary and Outgoing Vice President of Advancement

When I joined Tamarack’s board seven years ago, I was immediately drawn to advancement (advancing the agency and its mission through fundraising and messaging). As I wrap on my last four years as your Development Chair and Vice President of Advancement, I want you to know that I am so honored to have had this opportunity. I am grateful to the leaders who came before me who gave us the trust and space to implement new ideas and push the agency to go places it had never been before – and that we did! Thank you for helping to make the last four (plus) years so successful; thank you for putting your trust in me to lead advancement with the professional team – it has been an honor and a privilege.
As lay leaders, we can only hope that we leave something better than we found it, and that is the case here. It was a true team effort, and I know that our new Vice President of Advancement, Elizabeth Sollish, will continue to lead and move us in a great direction. 
As part of our culture of philanthropy, at our advancement meetings over the last couple of years, we have started with “mission moments” – a time for our committee members to share how they have seen a part of our mission at work. And, as I transition board roles, I wanted to share a ‘mission moment’ with all of you.
For the second summer now, I have been able to see firsthand a new perspective – as a camper parent, the genuine excitement, nerves, impact, and importance (for both campers and parents) that comes with drop-off on the first day of camp. I was going to share about that experience and the emotions that came along with knowing what was in store for my family’s next generation to get the gift of a Tamarack Camps summer.   
Then, as I was writing this message, I received a push notification from Instagram, which contained a message from Simon Mirkes’ family, and I cannot help but to share the power of our community and all that I have seen this summer – the essence of our mission at work and its far-reaching impact. 
My son, at almost nine years old, just experienced his second Shabbat at camp this summer, and, over the last couple weeks, I have seen, through pictures, the camp community come together for Kabbalat Shabbat; I have received pictures of Ethan from a few of the visiting Rabbis; I saw community pictures of all kids associated with Temple Beth El, Temple Israel, and Hillel; I saw bunk communities enjoying the sun and camp activities; and I saw cousins and siblings having fun together in the fresh air. I saw the notion of “community” at work, seeing our board gather at the drop of a hat to support our campers, summer staff, and professional staff; I saw our professional staff rally around one another. I saw support and care from Willoway and Tamakwa, who have provided messages stating that we are all part of a greater camp community. We saw our fellow Jews in Alaska support our kids. And I saw the incredible Detroit Jewish community gather around Simon’s family and the campers and staff of Alaska 2 (including Rabbis from several temples and synagogues in our area, BBYO, Jewish Senior Life, Federation (JFMD), and our own professional staff, board members and past presidents).  
Even in the most painful of times, we fulfill our mission of community, giving all our participants and anyone in our circle a place to feel a sense of belonging and an inherent responsibility to help take care of others. It is truly second nature and an integral part of who we are as a camp. We give kids and teens a community and a summer family where they can be themselves, feel included, and develop as individuals. As we continue to instill these values in our incoming program participants throughout their years at Tamarack, we are living our mission – and we will continue to see it time and again, no matter where we look. We are all a part of that mission.
Honestly, there are so many communities within our greater community that I could go on forever. But I will leave you with this: Thank you for being part of MY community and for your support of Advancement over the last several years. You have shown up, acted, fundraised, shared, and made my job easier, and I am forever grateful to all of you for your help. Whether it was making calls, planning events, giving your own dollars, or engaging corporate sponsors, you stepped up and rose to the occasion.  
Thank you for your leadership and putting your trust and faith in me. I am so proud of where we are and how far we have come. Together, we have really moved the needle. 
While we continue to build, create, and instill a culture of philanthropy, please continue to help us advance our mission: share Tamarack in your conversations and be an ambassador; provide people in your communities with the opportunity to be part of Tamarack, give to something meaningful, be involved, and participate in our process. Doing all this together is a culture of philanthropy and one of Tamarack’s many legacies.