Stein family sees loved one’s memory live on at Jewish agency

Stein family sees loved one’s memory live on at Jewish agency
Looking on as Katie Robbins cuts the ribbon are (front) Bill, Lauren, Jeffrey and Alex Block; Dave Robbins, David and Linda Stein; back: Melinda Sebasovich, Colleen Rodriguez, Cole and Tracy Westbrook and Jodie Leach

Capping off its year-long celebration of 100 years “helping people help themselves,” Jewish Family & Community Services (JFCS) held a grand reopening Jan. 21 for its renovated and renamed Allison Stein Robbins Building.

Previously known as the Dupont Building, the Allison Stein Robbins Building, at 6261 Dupont Station Court E in San Jose, is named for one of David Stein’s daughters. During the Sunday dedication, Stein told the story of his daughter’s decision to make a gift to the food pantry. He and Allison were having breakfast together one day in April 2013, and she told him she wanted to make a donation to a worthy charity.

Right after they finished breakfast, Stein took Allison to JFCS to introduce her to Colleen Rodriguez, executive director, who told them how many families were hungry in Jacksonville and how the food pantry helped them. Allison wrote a check on the spot for $10,000 as a match to the Block family’s $10,000 Challenge Match to benefit the Max Block Food Pantry.

Allison was a long-time San Marco resident until she passed away in September 2013, not long after the donation, at the age of 53. The family remembers that she loved to tell people that she would be spending eternity in her 32207 ZIP Code where she and two generations before her grew up and lived.

Allison was known for her generosity. She helped build school playgrounds and filled backpacks of food so that children would not go hungry. She loved giving most when it was spontaneous. She paid off a purple church hat that had been on layaway for years for an unknown elderly women she just met. Her legacy not only lives on in her son and granddaughter, but in the JFCS building that now bears her name.

Suzanne Zimmerman, JFCS financial assistance specialist and food pantry manager, with Marsha Pollock, president of River Garden Hebrew Home

Suzanne Zimmerman, JFCS financial assistance specialist and food pantry manager, with Marsha Pollock, president of River Garden Hebrew Home

The ceremony included dedication of the building’s expanded Max Block Food Pantry and new Fanny Landwirth Clothes Closet.

The food pantry was expanded from a single room with a pass-through service window where staff and volunteers handed people a pre-packed bag of food to a 900-square-foot area that offers food-insecure families the ability to shop for what they need and like, based on healthy nutrition guidelines. The pantry provides over 70,000 meals annually to local food-insecure families of all races, religions and backgrounds. The clothes closet provides much-needed clothes to the families who come to JFCS for help, as well as the many foster children the agency serves.

“We’re excited that our capital campaign is nearly complete, which will make both the Allison Stein Robbins Building and the Alan J. Taffet Building mortgage-free,” said Rodriguez,. “That means future donations that people make to the agency will go directly to provide services to people in need.”

The dedication also celebrated the sixth anniversary of the Jacksonville chapter of PJ Library®, which partners with communities around the world to provide families raising Jewish children with the gift of free, high-quality children’s books, music and resources that foster deeper engagement with Jewish life. This initiative was envisioned and financially supported by Harold Grinspoon, a successful real estate mogul and founder of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation.

In 2011, Laurie and Linda Dubow and their family and Sheryl Greenwald from the Sam Berman Charitable foundation saw the value in bringing PJ Library to Jacksonville and on December 1 of that year, PJ Library Jacksonville participants received their first shipment of books direct to their homes. Since that time, 633 PJ Library recipients from Nassau County to St. Augustine and everywhere in between have received 23,699 books.

The dedication was concluded with a PJ Library Family Concert by Rick Recht, who has been recognized as a pioneer of the Jewish rock music genre, putting it to use to develop Jewish pride and identity.

By Karen J. Rieley
Resident Community News

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