When I was growing up, my parents taught me the importance of gratitude. One thing I am still incredibly grateful for today is having been able to spend eleven summers as a camper and staff member at Jacobs Camp in the 70’s and 80’s. I still cherish the friendships I made, the experiences I had, and my Jewish Identity that was formed during those summers.
My name is Joel (Yuspeh) Ashner, and I am the new Development Committee Chair for the Jacobs Camp Committee. Originally from Touro Synagogue in New Orleans, I have called Memphis and Temple Israel my home for the last 27 years. My husband Dub Ashner (a Memphis native) and I met at Camp while in high school (yes, we’re one of those “camp couples” you hear about). Our three grown children, Matthew, Louis, and Becca, all attended Camp from Olim through staff and also call Jacobs their 2nd home. For their experiences, I am even more grateful!
I spent so many years on the Camp Committee that I’ve lost count, even serving as the Chair from 2003-2007. I am thrilled to be back to help the Camp bring our fundraising efforts to the next level. I am a development professional and work at Memphis Jewish Home & Rehab as the Director of Philanthropy and Community Engagement. I hope to use my 15+ years of development experience to help Anna, Jacob, Gary, and the rest of our committee make sure we have the funding we need to not only sustain our operations through this very difficult time, but to take us long into the future.
This has been such a difficult time for all of us for a number of reasons, but I can’t help but keep thinking about the children, teens, and young adults who should be in the middle of another amazing summer at Jacobs Camp. My heart aches for them. But what Anna and her staff have done to keep these children and families engaged is amazing! I know we are all so incredibly thankful for them and their creativity. But I also know that none of this would be possible without our Camp donors, including the camper parents who have donated this year’s tuition to enable this programming to continue.
Many of you who paid your child’s tuition thinking he/she would be having another fabulous summer in Utica chose to donate those fees to our Sustainability Fund. For your generosity, we are ALL extremely grateful! The Sustainability Fund is keeping our staff doing their important work of creating Jewish Camp-like virtual experiences for all of the Jacobs Camp Family. Your gift, just like the gifts from all our donors, is an investment in the future of our Camp!
My hope is that next year we can all celebrate being back at our home in Utica! For that, I would be eternally grateful! But until then, please know that your support is vital to keeping the Jacobs Magic alive and well.