4630 Pine Ridge Road
Naples, FL 34119
Target Groups: Multi-generational Social Action Program, Adults
Temple Shalom members demonstrate their inspiring sense of community responsibility through their devotion to both the Friendship House and to the Sunrise Community. The Friendship House, based in Immokalee, is a homeless shelter for abused women, children at risk, migrant workers, and the working poor. Poverty runs rampant in Immokalee, which is located forty-five miles west of affluent Naples. Temple Shalom first got involved with the Friendship House during its 2000 Mitzvah Day but quickly realized that it could not confine its efforts to just one day a year. Temple members have served the Immokalee community by focusing on three comprehensive projects: La Casa, Breast Cancer Awareness, and the annual Christmas Eve celebration.
Temple Shalom members opened a thrift store, called La Casa, to help the Friendship House community become more self-sufficient. The establishment of La Casa created job opportunities, money for the shelter’s supplies, and access to affordable clothing, appliances, and furniture. Temple Shalom members have played a pivotal role in this effort with bookkeeping, legal decisions, painting, and organizing.
In another project the temple’s Sisterhood invested in the health of the Immokalee community by distributing breast examination pamphlets in Spanish. The Sisterhood and a Temple Shalom physician also sponsored a series of lectures on breast cancer prevention. Volunteers will continue to bring much-needed medical advice to the Friendship House through the coming years.
Every Christmas Eve, Temple Shalom partners with local churches to provide holiday cheer to the homeless and working poor of Immokalee. Over 100 temple volunteers cook, serve, clean, and distribute gifts. Attendance has grown from 1450 guests to a projected 2,400 for Christmas 2004. Temple Shalom has been a good friend to the clients of the Friendship House, and in return the Friendship House has helped Temple Shalom define itself as a congregation.
The Sunrise Community
Temple volunteers also decided to work with the Sunrise Community after serving its clients on Mitzvah Day. One of the congregants has a daughter who is a client of the Sunrise Community, an agency for developmentally compromised adults, and who connected the temple to this Mitzvah Day opportunity. Not including the temple volunteers, the only visitors to the Sunrise Community were family members, as this population makes many feel uneasy. The volunteers structured their visits around monthly birthday parties, which feature the musical talents of Temple Shalom congregants, homemade cakes, and different themes. The religious school students contributed by making birthday cards and small gifts for the clients.
This year, the program was expanded to include not only a Christmas but also a Chanukah party, at which clients ate latkes, played dreidel, and celebrated together. Volunteers decided to provide even more support by starting an arts and crafts program, landscaping the yard, and hosting the agency’s “graduation” banquet. This opportunity to bring joy into the Sunrise Community has also brought considerable joy to Temple Shalom.