TJF Community Impact Grant helps Kehillat Bet Hamidrash complete water drainage project

January 20, 2022

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Leaders at Kehillat Bet Hamidrash/Kempsville Conservative Synagogue worked on 2020 High Holiday plans for more than two months to create a safe and meaningful holiday experience for their congregants during the COVID-19 pandemic. Then, on September 18, just as Rosh Hashanah was about to begin, a storm dumped more than five inches of rain, rendering the parking lot completely useless.

“That was the wake-up call that confirmed that we had a drainage problem,” says Alene Jo Kaufman, KBH vice president.

Built more than 30 years ago, KBH’s building has been updated over time to meet Virginia Beach city requirements. Drainage pipes were installed adjacent to the parking lot along with cinder block barriers to protect cars from water. Despite these fixes, however, water drainage was still a pressing problem.

“Not only was it impacting the parking and the use of the grounds around the building, but we were also advised that our drainage issue could cause issues with the foundation of the building,” says Kaufman. “Our building is our largest resource and we needed to protect it.”

The Tidewater Jewish Foundation’s Community Impact Grant of $8,250 covered approximately 45% of the cost of the project. The grant allowed KBH to fix the drainage issue and to finish the project below budget.

“The grants committee recommended a second opinion,” says Kaufman. “Through Glenn Saucier from the Sandler Family Campus, we were directed to a professional engineer who advised us and the contractor on the process to alleviate the drainage issue. It looks like he was correct and we didn’t need to do all of the things that were initially suggested—which saved on materials, electricity, and money.”

“The Tidewater Jewish Foundation is glad that we have an endowed Community Impact Grants process,” says Naomi Limor Sedek, TJF president and CEO. “We dedicate annual resources from the TJF Unrestricted fund, as well as additional resources recommended by Donor Advised Fund holders in order to be able to respond to needs like this one.”

In FY 2021, approximately $256,000 was distributed through TJF’s Community Impact Grants, with 40 grants awarded by TJF’s board of directors as recommended by TJF’s grants committee.

“We are actively having conversations to grow this fund with unrestricted legacy gifts so we will be able to help the community with innovative and start-up programming, grants for urgent capital repair, emergency grants, and for collaborative projects of importance to Jewish Tidewater,” says Sedek.

While the project took longer than expected—pandemic-related contractor employee shortages and supply chain issues contributed to delays—the results have exceeded expectations. Residential neighbors’ yards no longer flood, the parking lot is safe to use, the grounds surrounding the building are suitable for outdoor activities, and the building is protected from water damage.

“Even though our building was closed due to the pandemic, we were able to hold joyful 2021 Simchat Torah services outdoors,” says Kaufman. “We look forward to using our grounds more often for celebration and camaraderie.”

-Thomas Mills

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