I am a retired social worker whose roots are on the Lower East Side. In the late 19th century, my grandmother, Anne, and three of her four siblings were placed in an orphanage. My father had died and his death left their mother widowed, destitute and with five young children. Lillian Wald, who founded the Henry Street Settlement and Visiting Nurses Services, came to the rescue of the family. She convinced my great grandmother to release the three middle children to the orphanage until the living situation could be improved. The baby remained at home, as did the oldest, because he could work and bring home some money. Eventually, the family was reunited.

As a social worker I worked with numerous rape survivors. I approached JCCA when I learned that the agency wanted to create a new and unique Center for Healing Sexually Abused and Exploited Children. This was a natural interest of mine because of the work I had done professionally.

An appointment was set up for me to learn more. As I was being told of JCCA’s origins as the Hebrew Orphan Asylum, I was overcome — was it possible that here I was, a possible funder considering supporting the very agency that had cared for my grandmother and great aunt and great uncle so many years ago in their time of need??? Sure enough, a week later I received a call that, “Yes, their names have been found on the Hebrew Orphan Asylum roster!”

Full circle. Gratitude. Humility. Responsibility.

I wish the Center and those they help the same success that graced my family.

Vicki Aranow Feiner