From Volunteer to Donor: Creating a Deeper Connection to CJP

After graduating from Brown University in 2015, Newton native Sam Gross moved to New York City for a job in finance. At the top of her to-do list when she arrived in her new home: Find a way to give back through community service.  


Yet, for Sam, the task proved surprisingly challenging. She found one organization that matched young adults with volunteer opportunities, but nothing panned out from that connection.  

“It was really hard to find things to do in addition to just giving money,” she recalls. “I had hoped that with my background in finance, I could learn more about joining a nonprofit board or find a way to support a nonprofit with insider advice. I wanted to get involved and it was frustrating.” 


A new opportunity 

So, when Sam relocated to Boston in 2021, she learned of CJP’s Hineni Volunteer Network from her younger sister, Mika. Through Hineni, community members are matched with Jewish communal organizations (including CJP!) that need governance and advisory support. Sam immediately signed up for Hineni, had an interview, and was offered a volunteer role on the CJP Investment Committee.  


“I remember thinking, ‘That would be absolutely amazing,’” she says. “It was a far better opportunity than I could ever really hope for. I knew about CJP from my parents, who had been donors over the years, and who spoke fondly about the Young Adult events they attended in the past. I felt comfortable saying yes because I already had a positive association with CJP.” 


In July 2022, Sam who works as an Associate Director in Member Strategy at TIFF Investment Management in Bostonjoined the CJP Investment Committee, which is made up of asset management professionals who volunteer their time and expertise to oversee nearly $900 million in investments for CJP’s Donor Advised Fund program and other funds. 


“It’s been really great so far,” she says. “I’m proud to offer the CJP Investment Committee a perspective and voice from the next generation. It’s an honor to have a seat at the table surrounded by so much knowledge and experience. I love getting the chance to learn from and be mentored by the other members. I hope it’s a first step for me toward deeper involvement in CJP and on boards in general.” 


Family ties 

Sam’s personal story has made it especially meaningful for her to volunteer with CJP. In the mid-1970s, her mother, Marina, and grandparents, Alexander and Inna, came to the United States from the USSR with the help of HIAS, a Jewish organization that provides services to refugees and asylum seekers around the world. 


“They left the Soviet Union because of antisemitism,” she says of her family. “So, that’s always been a big part of my cultural identity. I wanted to give my time to an organization that stands for Jewish values and is a force for change. With its wide reach and long history, CJP is a place where I knew I could have a great amount of impact as a volunteer.” 


Becoming a CJP donor was the natural next step for Sam. Shortly after taking on the Investment Committee role, she joined the Ben-Gurion Society (BGS), a national donor recognition society for young adults who make a gift of $1,000 or more to CJP's Annual Campaign. Since then, she’s attended BGS events and connected with other like-minded, Jewish young adults.  


“It was important for me to align my philanthropy with my volunteer work,” she says. “It definitely felt like the right thing to do.” 


Sam says she’s proud to support CJP and feels especially connected to the organization’s work around immigration and refugee resettlement, antisemitism, and mental health.  


“There’s something about seeing the values you grew up with in action,” she says. “I love the Jewish mindset of doing good, being inquisitive, and pushing boundaries. We are a people who have persevered, and I’m proud to be part of continuing our Jewish identity and connectivity.”