At its Hannah G. Solomon Centennial Award Luncheon last month, the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), Seattle Section, honored three special women. U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, Daisy Israel and Timmie Faghin stood on the podium on behalf of hundreds of women who have donated millions of volunteer hours over the past century to the advocacy, education and community service organization.
The NCJW luncheon also celebrated the organizationâ€™s new Centennial Endowment Fund, which had raised $80,000 by the Nov. 2 program at the Four Seasons Olympic Hotel.
Maud Daudon, chief of staff, deputy mayor for the city of Seattle, read a proclamation from Mayor Paul Schell, which commended NCJW for its 100 years of efforts supporting Seattle. “Itâ€™s groups like this that make the city possible and make the city work,” she said. Nov. 2 was NCJW day in the city, county and state.
Luncheon Co-chair Tina Novick introduced Sen. Murray with a reminiscence about the first time she met the women who is now the stateâ€™s senior senator. They met while Murray was a junior legislator in Olympia. Another legislator who was meeting with Novick during an NCJW lobby day pulled Murray into her office and told her, “Watch this young woman, she is going to go far.”
Novick says Murray has always made herself available every time NCJW members have visited Washington to talk about education bills, legislation concerning domestic violence or reproductive rights. When Hannah G. Solomon started NCJW in 1983, she said it was the responsibility of women to advocate. Novick commended Murray because “her work embodies the mission of Hannah G. Solomon and NCJW.” She was given this award “in recognition of all of the work she does for the women, children and families of Washington state and daring to go into the world where her convictions demand.”
In her acceptance speech, Murray turned the tables and thanked the women at the luncheon for all the work they do in support of causes she agrees with and feels comfortable having them come into her office to speak about. “There is nothing we disagree on,” Murray said.
She gave NCJW credit for touching perhaps a million lives in 100 years. “Without people contributing something from their own life â€¦ a lot of lives would be dramatically different.”
Murray said advocacy work on the issues she and NCJW care about â€” education, domestic violence, reproductive rights â€” is far from finished. Every year, Congress votes on many bills on these issues. The issue of reproductive rights, for example, was voted on more than 100 times in the Senate in the past six years. “Only half a dozen times we have won over these years. We could easily lose this issue in the next few years,” she said.
She also spoke in support of Israel and the peace process. “A lot of things you and I care about are hanging in the balance,” she said, in a statement that became even more true a week later during the presidential election.
“We cannot give up the battles now,” Murray said, in closing. “This award will sit on my desk and it will remind me that you win when you donâ€™t give up.”
Next on the podium was Virginia Israel to introduce honoree Daisy Israel, her cousin who worked her way up through the ranks of NCJW including many years of volunteering at Council House. Virginia says Daisyâ€™s goal was always to “bring some joy into the building, and she did so for 12 years.” From candidate forums to parties and special events, Daisy brought some life into the assisted living facility on Capitol Hill as a full-time volunteer without a budget. She gave four days of her creativity each week for many years after the active retirement building for people 62 years and older was completed in 1972.
After her full-time volunteer position ended, Daisy went back to school and got a degree “so she could be a better volunteer,” her cousin recalled. “The most valuable lesson she learned is that the power of volunteerism is when it touches the heart,” Virginia added.
In accepting the award, Daisy said it was amazing to be called to the same podium that would host both Sen. Murray and Timmie Faghin, whom she called “one of my best teachers.”
She spoke of the rewards she has received over decades of volunteer work, most notably at Council House, and then announced that she wanted to give something back to the women of NCJW that day. She spoke of a box she had that was filled with cards from the residents of Council House. The cards said thank you to all the volunteers who made lunch, who reached out to the residents, who taught exercise classes, who made sure they had a bus to ride in to activities and brightened up their lives. “From all the ladies and gentlemen of Council House, they thank you and I thank you,” Daisy said.
Last, but certainly not least, Bernice Stern introduced the third award recipient, Timmie Faghin, who was also co-chair of the event. “She has a remarkable history,” Stern began. “Iâ€™m not going over it step by step because it took me all day to read it.” She also noted that Faghin has done as much for the non-Jewish community as she has done for the Jewish community.
Faghin started her acceptance speech with a smile, thanking the audience for their courage in coming to the event, because, she says, when she was asking these women to volunteer they ran the other way. She says she has been hooked on volunteering for many years and has also worked for the Jewish Federation, the Jewish Community Center, Jewish Family Service, the Kline Galland Home and Council House.
“NCJW was way ahead of Gloria Steinem in advocating for womenâ€™s rights,” Faghin said with pride. “I look back with such admiration and kindness to presidents who came before me,” she said, and then read a list of names of past NCJW presidents, many of whom attended the luncheon. “I still want to take part in the action. Count me in to make waves in the second century.”