You’ll be incredibly inspired by the kindness of strangers. Some people donate or give gifts for, what seems to me, the most random reasons. For instance, we received a gift to acknowledge someone who had recently began their career. No matter the motivation behind the gifts, each and every one is so touching because I can see just how meaningful it is for the donor.
As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Adele Goldberg.
Adele Goldberg is the executive director of Friends of Yad Sarah, supporting the largest volunteer-led social services organization in Israel. Yad Sarah saves the Israeli government and healthcare system an estimated 300 million dollars per year, and aids 750,000+ people in Israel a year — young, old, Jewish, Christian, Arab, Druze, men, women, religious and secular. Its programs and support services are dynamic and multi-faceted, from providing elder care, home health, and medical equipment loans, to advocating for disability rights, cultivating volunteerism, and advancing community building. As Executive Director of Friends of Yad Sarah since 2003, Adele has raised more than 40 million dollars to support Yad Sarah’s critical services. Every day, she goes to work proud to serve and present the mission of Yad Sarah to its friends in the USA.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Working at Friends of Yad Sarah has taken me full circle. I have a degree in Social Work and have worked in direct service in the field of aging and health care, and have extensive experience with family caregiver issues. When I first visited Israel as a teenager, I fell in love with the country and its people. Yad Sarah provides essential health care services to those in need across Israel, so this brings it all together.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
I’ve learned that people can surprise you in sometimes the most wonderful ways. Several years ago, I had lunch with a man who was considering a gift to Friends of Yad Sarah. As the meeting wrapped up, he said he would send a check and I hoped he would give at least 10,000 dollars. I was stunned when we received his gift: 150,000 dollars! It was certainly a welcome surprise. Then, two years ago, he called, asked one question and then hung up. I was excited because I knew something would happen, but I wasn’t sure what. Soon after, we received a gift for 200,000 dollars! Of all the gifts we’ve received, this was definitely among the most unexpected.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
To be honest, I’m so hard on myself that I can’t imagine a mistake being funny.
Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?
Yad Sarah is the largest volunteer-staffed organization in Israel, providing more than 750,000 people essential health care support services every year, free of charge. I have the privilege of educating people about Yad Sarah in the United States and raising funds to ensure the organization is able to keep up their good work. With the millions of dollars raised for Yad Sarah over the years, the organization can sustain and continue to expand its services that enable people to recover at home where they can be cared for by their family and the community. Home is where we all want to be when we’re not feeling well, and Yad Sarah makes that possible.
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
A young woman, Mori, was on a gap year in Israel, and she was babysitting Orie, a five-year-old with cerebral palsy who still couldn’t walk. She knew that because of his condition that if he didn’t learn how to walk now, he would never, so she made it her mission to help him learn. Mori knew of a special walker that could help Orie, but she knew it was out of range of the family’s budget. She called her grandparents in the United States to help her raise money, and they raised more than 12,000 dollars! Yad Sarah ordered the walker for Orie, and his family was thrilled to see him take off on his own to chase a ball. When he outgrew it, the walker was returned to Yad Sarah to be loaned to another child. Mori’s determination to help Orie is at the heart of Yad Sarah.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
The main thing is that we should all be trying to promote equal access to health care. Whether through donations, volunteering, or activism, we can all make a difference and help ensure everyone has access to the health care services and programs they need.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
“Leadership” is being able to see the big picture and envision the organization’s future in the long-term. As I raise funds for Yad Sarah, it’s vital that I keep the organization’s long-term goals in mind and help determine a realistic timeline so that Yad Sarah can do as much good as possible.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- You’re in this position to make decisions, so act boldly.
- Some people are just difficult. I’ve had professional interactions that were unnecessarily difficult, and I had to learn to be able to laugh at the end of the day and not let it get to me. Some people are just that way.
- Good things will come. Be patient.
- You’ll be incredibly inspired by the kindness of strangers. Some people donate or give gifts for, what seems to me, the most random reasons. For instance, we received a gift to acknowledge someone who had recently began their career. No matter the motivation behind the gifts, each and every one is so touching because I can see just how meaningful it is for the donor.
- You’ll underestimate how fulfilling this job will be personally and professionally. As I said at the beginning, this position allows me to come full circle.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 😊
If I could inspire a movement, it would be for relational fundraising and developing a culture of gratitude. I learned an important lesson early in my career: if you can’t show people you care about them, you’ve lost them. It’s all about the relationships. It’s so important that donors and people in the community feel personally connected to the organizations they’re involved in. People need to be acknowledged or cared for, and understand how their involvement makes a difference,
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“It’s okay to be smarter than the boys.” I have a 22-year-old daughter, and I’ve encouraged her to step up and be heard — in school, and in the workplace. Women in the younger generations will have a lot more opportunities as we deconstruct outdated and harmful gender norms.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 😊
Michelle Obama! I really admire her because she’s a woman of integrity and she blew past so many of the boundaries and expectations that others had for her. She’s a real trailblazer that took on the role of First Lady with grace and used it in such a positive way that impacted so many lives. She’s truly a remarkable person.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
You can find Friends of Yad Sarah on Facebook as @yadsarahfriends and on Instagram as @friends_of_yadsarah. You can also check out our website at friendsofyadsarah.org.
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!