Baltimore, MD - May 9, 2019 - Remember the wonderful feeling you felt when you successfully did something you never did before and maybe weren’t sure you could do? Remember the surge of confidence it gave you and the exhilarating feeling of accomplishment? Sometimes those experiences become positive turning points in a person’s life. Certainly, they build self-esteem and expand one’s sense of what’s possible.  For the seventeen girls of Bais Yaakov Middle School’s class 6C, participating in their first Dolphin Club chesed project was just such an experience. Together, they brainstormed and then implemented their idea to put on a carnival just for families and friends who are helped by the Jewish Caring Network. Along the way they learned that the Dolphin Club is a safe place to work together, share ideas, lead, compromise, pitch in, and of course, have a lot of fun!

The girls’ plan was to provide a greatly needed break to JCN families dealing with the stress of health-related issues.  They decided to organize a colorful indoor carnival that would be completely free from start to finish and would feature all kinds of games, prizes, and fun attractions like face painting, putt-putt, a moonbounce obstacle course, and kid-pleasing food like ice cream sundaes and popcorn. Almost every aspect of the carnival was planned and implemented by the girls themselves under the supervision of Dolphin Club Director, Mrs. Leeba Braun.

To pay for the carnival prizes, supplies and food, the class organized a successful knish bake sale that raised hundreds of dollars. At the same time, a second project was planned—a game drive to ask people to donate new and used games and toys that the girls would personally deliver to the Tikva House, special housing available through the JCN for families with loved ones being treated at Johns Hopkins Hospital.  

Finally, the big day—Sunday, March 31st —arrived, and the carnival, with its many moving parts and details, went off without a hitch. The Dolphin Club girls saw all their hard work pay off in a deeply satisfying way as they watched boys and girls excitedly scramble from table to table to sample the fun. Over two hundred children and adults attended the carnival.

In a thank you letter to the Dolphin Club, one of the parents wrote, “I am extremely impressed with the maturity and midos of the girls in the club. You all went out of your way to help my children enjoy themselves and succeed. Especially the kind girl who happily took my daughter to the restroom.”

Echoing the sentiment of all the girls in her class, one Dolphin Club participant said, “I had a great time and I love helping people feel good.”

The Jewish Caring Network’s hakaros hatov to the girls was overflowing: “The Dolphin Club Carnival was BEYOND AMAZING and the families had a BLAST!”.

“The girls felt very proud that the project was such a success,” said Mrs. Leeba Braun, Dolphin Club Director. “The carnival was very well organized and the entire class worked together with a beautiful achdus. For many, the event exceeded their expectations,” she remarked. “This was the first time we did a carnival that was completely free to all participants. Because of that, the girls could focus purely on helping others, which gave them a great feeling and a tremendous sense of purpose,” she said.

Rabbi Naftali Hexter, Principal of Bais Yaakov Middle School, is a consistent and unabashed supporter of the Dolphin Club.  “After going through the whole process of seeing this project from start to finish, Mrs. Braun’s sixth grade Dolphins are made to feel like a million dollars seeing their hard work pay off in the smiles and joy of the JCN families who participated,” he said.  “Through Dolphin Club events such as this one, our young leaders become sensitive and responsive to the needs of the Jewish community,” he noted.

About a week after the carnival, the girls went to Tikva House to deliver the donated games and to get a personal tour of the house of hope by JCN’s director and co-founder, Stacy Goldenberg.  The Dolphin Club  game drive collected over 35 games, enough to keep a house full of visiting family members well entertained during their stay.

As they have shown again and again, Dolphin Club doers and future leaders are experts at turning great ideas into successful, win/win chesed campaigns. We can expect more creative, thoughtful projects in the future to benefit both our community and the lucky girls who participate in the next Dolphin Club program.