Cecily Bregman

President, JVS (1984-1986)

President, Golden Age Association (1984-1986)

1. How did you get involved with Federation CJA – and why?

I grew up in an immigrant family that believed in tzedakah. Mother belonged to Hadassah. Among other things, Father was President of an organization that clothed Jewish children. So it was natural that I followed in their footsteps to help in the Jewish community. What better way than to canvas for Combined Jewish Appeal! As a result, I was nominated to sit on the Board of Directors of Jewih Vocational Services (JVS), and I subsequently became Chair of the Board. After I retired from being Principal of the McKay Centre for deaf and disabled children, I became active in the Golden Age Association, where I also became Chair of the Board of Directors.

2. What is your fondest memory to date of your time working with your organization?

I have many fond memories. My most memorable experience at Federation CJA took place in the summers of 1980 and 1981, when I was sent to Israel as part of their commitment to assist Israel. Federation CJA had twinned with Yerucham, a development town in the Negev Desert, providing financial aid and services. I had volunteered to be a Federation “ambassador,” leading groups of eight university students for four weeks each summer to work in a children’s day camp. Living with residents of Yerucham, and experiencing their courage and strength, was a moving experience for me, and particularly for our young Canadian volunteers. I still have fond memories of the people I met in Yerucham.

My fondest memory of my time with JVS was working with members of the Board to develop opportunities for disabled people to get employment outside our Sheltered Workshop. Within the Golden Age Association, I particularly enjoyed planning and implementing programs for seniors, knowing first-hand the importance of seniors staying active and healthy.

3. Can you recall a particular moment or event that impacted you profoundly?

As an educator, I was interested in JBS vocational guidance services, and felt rewarded by how many young people, including some that I knew, were assisted in developing appropriate life skills.

4. What advice would you give to the young women following in your community-minded footsteps?

My advice to young women is to get involved and aim towards assuming leadership roles in philanthropy and volunteerism.

5. What is your legacy?

I hope my legacy is seen in the ongoing role that women play within JVS as well as in other organizations within the Jewish community. As a result of my experience at the GAA , I was instrumental in starting a seniors’ organization in Ottawa called Active Jewish Adults 50+.

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