In honor of her Bat Mitzvah, Rebecca Strauss, 13, of Irvington, renovated the youth lounge at the Sally & Anthony Mann Center in Hawthorne, a residential treatment facility (RTF) for girls ages 12 to 21 with severe emotional challenges, run by the Jewish Board.
Through the project, created with the help of UJA-Federation of New York’s Give a Mitzvah — Do a Mitzvah program, Strauss prepared design ideas that she presented to the girls living at the center, which included vibrant purple walls, furnishings, and decorative touches such as stuffed animals and throw pillows. She then set about designing the space, selecting samples, and raising funds. Strauss also recruited friends to create a colorful underwater-themed mural.
“Rebecca’s passion for helping others was clearly reflected in her enthusiastic devotion to this project,” said Donna Divon, UJA-Federation’s manager of community and volunteer services. “I was delighted to help guide her and her family through the process of working with our partner agency, the Jewish Board, in creating a special and safe space for the young clients at the Mann Center. Rebecca voiced her hopes that the lounge would be a place for these young women to relax, build friendships, and flourish.”
Inspired by the new space, the residents named it the “Empowerment Lounge” and started their own mitzvah club to give back to the community.
For more than 140 years, the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services (The Jewish Board) has been helping New Yorkers realize their potential and live as independently as possible. They promote resilience and recovery by addressing all aspects of an individual’s life, including mental and physical health, family, employment and education. Across the five boroughs and in Westchester, they serve more than 43,000 New Yorkers from all religious, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds each year.