Corinne Engel

My grandmother, Annie Engel’s, motto was, “you go, you get!”

It is an aphorism I took to heart when I became involved in fundraising. I have learned that it’s crucial to ask, and the worst someone will say is “no!”

I was raised by a very philanthropic father, William (Bill) Engel, who often, throughout my childhood would kindly help people in need. My mother, Gertrude (Gert), had been involved in Hadassah-WIZO, and I think I probably learned charitable giving by osmosis.

I, myself, joined a Hadassah chapter in my early thirties and became a leader for that organization, with major responsibilities, especially for their annual bazaar. I was aware of UJA from an early age because of my father’s involvement.

In the early eighties, UJA Women’s Division changed, with the added formation of the Business and Professional Women’s Network. Until then, most women’s charitable giving came through their husband’s financial support. However, this new group of women needed to meet at night because they had professional duties during the day. They encouraged more women to become aware of their own responsibility to be supportive separately from their male partners. During that time, I was very moved by the creation of the Canadian law reform act that prevented Jewish men from withholding a ghet from their divorced spouses. Eventually, I became a chair of UJA’s annual telethon, evolved into a trainer for canvassers’ education, and, regarding collections, the “problem cards” usually ended up with me! Because my involvement in UJA’s fundraising campaign occurred at the same time as the Hadassah Bazaar, my energies became more directed to Hadassah’s efforts in the community.

I care about people, and I like to help: that’s what led me to become a psychotherapist. There are so many people in our own community—and in Israel— who need our help: abused women trapped in untenable environments, children, the elderly, the impoverished. I believe that someone must lead. Without people willing to step up, our Jewish values and traditions may be threatened and in jeopardy. We all need to be aware, care and share. Like the ripples spreading from a pebble thrown into a pond, each one of us can have some influence, and each of us can make a difference.