Charity is tradition for the Jacobowitz family

How these Valley residents keep charity in the family

Author: Anita Manley
Posted: Friday, May 28, 2010

Charity is in the genes for the Jacobowitz family of Walden. Attorney Gerald Jacobowitz says his parents were very much involved in charitable giving and community activism as far back as he could remember. “I remember tagging along with my parents to fundraising activities and events,” said Jacobowitz. “It was part of our life.”


Jacobowitz’s father, Meyer, who was born in Warwarsing, was active in the Lion’s Club, Boy Scouts, Boy’s Town, and a number of Jewish organizations including B’nai B’rith, the Weitzman Institute of Science and Israel Bonds. His mother, Lillian, born on the lower east side of New York, was active in Hadassah. Both parents owned a produce store in Ellenville. After they moved to Walden, they opened a small grocery store on Main Street. In 1954, Jacobowitz and four others bought a factory building at the end of Oak Street in Walden and opened what is now the Thruway Market.


Gerald Jacobowitz attended college and went on to law school and now has a large legal practice in Walden. His involvement in community charities and local organizations continues the family tradition. Jacobowitz founded the Town of Montgomery JC’s and has raised money for the Boy Scouts and the Red Cross.

In celebration of his parent’s 50th anniversary, the Jacobowitz family founded the Meyer and Lillian Jacobowitz Foundation which provides scholarships to students at Valley Central and Wallkill High school and donations to other local charities. Ten years ago, he founded – and is now President – of the Community Foundation of Orange County, an organization which provides organizational, advisory, administrative, investment reporting and compliance services for charities and foundations. “We have over 90 funds worth $6 million,” said Jacobowitz. “We have 25 people on the board of the foundation who oversee the funds.”


Jacobowitz said many of the funds were set up after 9/11 in memory of firefighters who lived in Orange County. Many provide for scholarships and emergency funding for families. Others are familiar names in the community – non profits such as Independent Living, Inspire, Big Brothers/Big Sisters and the aforementioned Corinne Feller Fund.


Jacobowitz’s daughter Marcia Paz also inherited the family gene of community service. She serves on the board of the local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and founded the Wallkill Valley Coalition, opened a medical clinic and recently contracted with Hudson River Health Care to provide medical services to local residents in sixteen health centers around the Valley. Until the clinic opened, there were no doctors in Walden. Now the clinic includes treatment for prenatal and AIDS patients, offers nutritional counseling and is affiliated with local hospitals.


Information about the Community Foundation of Orange County can be obtained on their website or by calling 845-469-4469. “No one gets where they are alone,” said Jacobowitz. ”That’s what makes a community.”


Anita Manley is a writer living in Newburgh.

Read Anita's story here.

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