Strong family tradition of helping others

From the patriarch in his mid-90s to the young teens, generosity is second nature to members of Jacksonville’s Gefen/Jaffe/Zimmerman family. Growing up, Barbara Jaffe learned the importance of giving through examples set by her father, Sid Gefen—a way of life she embraces with her husband, Larry Jaffe. Likewise, Barbara’s sons, Sanford “Sandy” and Bradley Zimmerman, and their children are carrying on the strong family traditions of helping others.

His 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award from the University of Florida College of Health and Human Performance for his contributions to Florida tourism recognized one of a multitude of causes Gefen supported to make a difference in the quality of life of people throughout the state and beyond. Jaffe—a recipient of the Florida Times-Union’s prestigious EVE award for her community contributions—shares her father’s long-time commitment to United Way of Northeast Florida, serving on the board and mentoring aspiring philanthropists through its Stein Fellowship program.

“Barbara Jaffe generously gives her resources through the Tocqueville Society, a group of individuals who contribute $10,000 or more to United Way of Northeast Florida, and she has served as a mentor for seven of the 10 Stein Fellowship classes,” said Michelle Braun, United Way president and CEO. “With the objective of developing future community and philanthropic leaders, David and Linda Stein generously donated $1 million to create United Way of Northeast Florida’s Stein Fellowship.”

Barbara’s father and late mother, Lois, had been active in their synagogue, perhaps the most notable passion of this giving family. Past president of his synagogue, the Jacksonville Jewish Center, Sandy Zimmerman, at 41, is president of the Jacksonville Jewish Federation, which provides such local services as adoption and nursing home support for Jewish and non-Jewish families and whose global affiliates touch lives around the world.

“What they saw you do says so much more,” said Jaffe about non-verbal guidance from parents to get involved and give back.

“They see not just talk, but action. Writing a check is important but the kids don’t see the financial part,” agreed Sandy Zimmerman. “But on Tuesday night they see that I am exhausted and still willing to go to a meeting. They see sacrifices for the greater good of philanthropy, like I saw from my mom. It’s wonderful for my kids to realize what is important to me.”

Last year, at age 13, his daughter Brooke proved that she had been paying close attention. On her own for her Bat Mitzvah project, she researched philanthropies worldwide and launched an on-line fund-raising campaign to raise money for Innovation Africa. Her dad matched the $2,500 she raised and the agency combined the total with the proceeds from another student’s campaign to install a solar system to provide energy to pump clean water to a rural village of 7,000 people.

The teen’s initiative is an example of how the younger generation—in her case the youngest, Generation Z—uses technology to research and fund charities and seeks services with significant impacts.

“They are hands-on. They don’t want to just write a check. They want to see the differences they make. In a lot of charities, it’s time, talent or treasury, a least two of the three. Young people today are involved in all three,” said Jaffe, who works in management for The Jaffe Group at Morgan Stanley with her sons. “That has always been a way of life for my family, giving back to the community.”

“That family is beyond generous with their time and commitment to charity,” said Kellie Ann Kelleher, director of major gifts, American Cancer Society, recalling Bradley’s young son, Josh, doing a project with at-risk children at Daniel Kids Foundation for his Bar Mitzvah. And so it continues.