[by Shiela Steinman Wallace]
In recognition of their leadership roles in BBYO (B’nai B’rith Youth Organization), the Jewish Community of Louisville (JCL) has announced that the 2010 Ellen Faye Garmon Award will go to Jacob Spielberg and the Stacy Marks Nisenbaum Award will go to Hayley Grossman and Talia Wagner.
Jacob Spielberg will be a sophomore at Kentucky Country Day School this fall.He has just been elected godol (president) of the Drew Corson AZA Chapter, and is eagerly looking forward to attending CLTC5 (Chapter Leadership Training Conference), made possible by the Garmon Award, to “strengthen my leadership for BBYO.” He also hopes to improve his recruiting skills, to help his chapter flourish.
“After the summer program, we look to have many fundraising programs to help raise money for the chapter,” he said. “We’re going to have an alumni vs. current BBYO member softball game.” He expects the alumni to commit to making a $10 donation “for every run we beat them by.” And if they lose? Jacob was ready with his answer, “We’ll wash their cars or something.”
He’s already had some experience with programming. “I’ve led a Havdallah service,” he said, “and helped program an overnight at the JCC.”
He has other ideas in the works as well including a region-wide basketball tournament in Cincinnati. “We will stress recruiting in the coming year,” he said, “and we’re going to have a coed pool party at the end of the summer” to begin the BBYO year.
Jacob’s energy and enthusiasm are not surprising. He has been a fighter all his life and has had a very difficult hurdle to overcome. “At age 8, I was diagnosed with dystonia,” he explained, “and it was progressively getting worse.”
Dystonia is a neurological disease similar to Parkinson’s Disease. Those affected by dystonia have muscle control issues. “It causes you to have muscle spasms and limp,” Jacob said. “I was lucky. It stayed all on my right side, but it can happen anywhere.”
At age 10, Jacob underwent a procedure called deep brain stimulation. “After the surgery, I had some struggles,” he said, “and after three years of physical therapy, I got almost completely better. Now, I’m playing basketball.”
Jacob has been an active fundraiser for the Bachmann-Strauss Dystonia and Parkinson’s Foundation. By selling red “Love Life” wrist bands and green “Clip for a Cure” rock climbing clips, he helped raise more than $80,000.
Jacob is the son of Linda and Gregg Spielberg, and he has a brother, Nathan. His grandparents are Alec and Carole Spielberg and Doreen and Ben Mosier.
“Thank you to the Garmon family for helping me continue my leadership in BBYO,” he said.
The Garmon Award is given annually in memory of Ellen Faye Garmon, the daughter of Estelle and Selwyn Garmon, who died in July 1968 in a tragic accident.
The fund was established by the Gamma Kappa Social Club in order to further the work of high schoolers who, in the spirit of Ellen, are involved in Jewish life through BBYO and with the Jewish Community Center, and in the general community.
The Garmon Award is supported through the sale of all-occasion cards.
Hayley Grossman is a rising senior at Ballard High School, where she is vice president of Beta Club, a member of the National Honor Society, the Bruin Nation Spirit Committee and a member of Schools for Schools, a club that helps starving children in Africa. She also played varsity tennis during her freshman and sophomore years.
Through Beta Club, she volunteered at Volunteers of America and helped make Ballard Green.
Next year, she will be part of the school’s broadcasting team and newspaper.
Hayley had a difficult choice to make this summer. She was selected as a Governor’s School and also had the opportunity to participate in the International Leadership Seminar in Israel. She chose the Israel trip and is currently traveling with fellow Louisvillians Sarah Ensign and Nathan Spielberg and “a bunch of kids from all over the U.S. and other countries,” she said.
In BBYO, Hayley is serving her second term as n’siah (president) of the Jay Levine BBG Chapter. She also served a year (two terms) as chapter morah (vice president of recruitment, retention and reeducation.
Last year, she was elected chapter sweetheart by the Drew Corson AZA chapter, and this year, she’s regional sweetheart. She’s also attended every convention she could since joining BBYO in her freshman year, and served programming and publicity committee for every regional convention in the past three years. She’s also available to help other chapters in the region.
“I’ve planned many programs,” she said. “I helped coordinate the dance marathon with Molly Fine and Sara Ensign.” She also helped plan the bowling event which attracted 60 members last year and 45 this year.
Hayley was chosen to be a regional board chair of the Teen Connection in Louisville and is trying to get this middle school Jewish youth group program going. She and Sarah Ensign have recruited 30 members since last year.
Last year, she was a Hebrew School tutor at The Temple on Wednesdays. This year, she is also participating in the JCL’s Kesher Kentucky program.
Looking ahead, Hayley knows she wants “to do something in communications and media arts,” but hasn’t yet chosen a school, noting only that she wants “to be in the south for college.”
Hayley is the daughter of Evelyn and Phil Grossman, and she has an older sister, Emori. Her grandparents are Carolyn and Lee Grossman and Sonya and Sanford Simon.The Grossmans belong to The Temple.
“Thank you so much for the scholarship,” she said to the creators of the Stacy Marks Nisenbaum Award. “It will give me the opportunity to increase my leadership skills. BBYO has definitely made me a leader.”
Talia Wagner is a rising senior at DuPont Manual High School in the Youth Performing Arts (YPAS) program with a dance major, which means she has a demanding schedule with performances and behind-the-scene assignments on top of her regular schoolwork. She also teaches children’s dance classes at the Louisville Dance Alliance.
The free time she does have is devoted to BBYO. She has served the Jay Levine BBG chapter as s’ganit (vice president), mazkira (secretary) and gizborit (treasurer) and is currently chair of community service. She is also BBYO’s representative on the new Jewish Community of Louisville’s Teen Committee and is working on the group’s Community-Wide Teen Day of Service.
As a leader, she has helped organize the “Mother’s Day Flower Sale,” “American Next Top Models Sleepover” and a “Day at the Races” social.
She enjoys going to BBYO conventions and has attended a new members convention, two fall kick-offs and two regional conventions.
Every summer, you can find Talia at B’nai B’rith Beber Camp. Last year, she traveled with the camp program to Israel. This year, her 10th at the camp, she is a CIT (counselor-in-training), and working hard to ensure that other campers have the same positive experience she enjoyed.
She’s been part of CenterStage at the Jewish Community Center and has appeared in several shows. She also works there as a camp counselor and at every vacation day “School’s Out” program.
This year, she is participating in the JCL’s Kesher Kentucky program.
Talia understands that it takes the support of the entire community to ensure the continuation of programs like BBYO, so each year at Super Sunday, she is a volunteer, making calls or helping in other ways. For the last three years, she has been the trainer for middle school and teen callers.
While she has started thinking about college, Talia has just begun looking at schools and has not decided on her next steps yet.
She thanked the creators of the Stacy Marks Nisenbaum Award and said she will use the grant to attend the next regional convention. For her, this award is particularly meaningful since she loves Beber Camp and she knows Stacy Marks Nisenbaum loved it as much as she did and also spent many years there as a camper and counselor.
Talia is the daughter of Sara and Howard Wagner and has two younger sisters, Elana and Yael. The family belongs to both Keneseth Israel and Adath Jeshurun.
The Stacy Marks Nisenbaum Award was created after her death by three close friends, Stacy Gordon-Funk, Wendy Snow and Sally Weinberg, who felt that the scholarship program was the best way to honor her.