News

Published Wednesday, July 29, 2020 11:00 am

Why I Give to Life & Legacy®

By Jeff Siegel

 Background:

Jeff Siegel is the VP of Business Development and Fundraising for Hebrew Free Loan Association of San Antonio.  He also serves as Treasurer of the JCC Board and is member of both organization’s Executive Committee.  Jeff was also on the Board of Directors for Congregation Agudas Achim.

Since 2005, Jeff Siegel has been the Owner and President of Four Seasons Promotions, LLC.  With a consistent focus on consulting and offering exemplary service, he’s provided promotional needs to assist many in the community.  Reflecting Jeff’s deep philanthropic values, he’s repeatedly used his business to contribute products for the benefit of area non-profits.

LIFE & LEGACY Commitment:

Through the years, several local Jewish agencies have influenced my life and been integral to both my family and me.  When approached about the Federation’s LIFE & LEGACY Initiative, I jumped at the opportunity, as I deeply wanted to give back to the organizations with the greatest personal impact to ensure they can continue to exist for generations to-come.

As I look back through my years, I can readily point to two significant conversations which led to my profound feelings for the JCC and Hebrew Free Loan.

Around 2002-2003, while waiting to pick up my children from Heintz Pre-School at Agudas Achim, Bernard Rabinowitz approached me.  He asked, “Have you ever heard of Hebrew Free Loan?”  I had not, so he explained the organization lends money to folks in the Jewish community, always interest-free.  I remember thinking it was nice, but at the time, I didn’t have a need.  Still, I must have filed away that conversation.

The next highly meaningful discussion occurred in 2005 when Steve Butler was my neighbor.  I’ll always remember the kids having a blast sledding/sliding down the Butler’s driveway on the rare occasions we actually had snow or ice – so maybe, twice!   More frequently, they loved taking their big wheels to the top of their driveway, speeding all the way down, until they reached ours.

One day, I mentioned to Steve I’d left ‘Corporate America’ and started my own promotional products company.  Without hesitation, he asked me to stop by his office, saying he wanted to talk.  Once there, Steve requested I take out a pen and paper and, “Write down these names and numbers.” He proceeded to give me a long list from his contacts and said, “I want you to call all of these people, telling them I asked that you do so.” Then, he claimed I should follow up, saying “Should you have a need for promotional products or services, I have a new business, and Steve suggested you consider doing business with me.”

I was floored by this incredible endorsement from someone I knew to be a pillar in our community.  I thanked him profusely for this generous gift and his recommendation and asked, “How can I ever thank you, Steve?”  He quickly responded with one request, “When you’re in a position to do so, I want you to give back to the Jewish community, in any way you can.”  I’ll never forget his kind gesture – or my promise.

Fast forward to 2009/2010 when I went through major life transitions. With the recession affecting so many, my previously successful business was suddenly suffering. In addition, my personal life went through an upheaval.  I needed some relief from the overwhelming financial pressure. Somehow, I remembered that conversation at Agudas with Bernard Rabinowitz.  I couldn’t recall the organization’s name, only “interest-free lending.”

After Googling, I found Hebrew Free Loan Association of San Antonio and promptly called. Their Executive Director at the time, Laura Richardson walked me through the process for receiving a loan, and I quickly submitted my application.  Within a few days, she handed me a check.  All the pressure I’d been feeling was instantly lifted. 

I paid off that loan and took out another.  Once again, the financial pressure was relieved.  After retiring my 2nd loan, I voluntarily gave up my confidentiality and attended a Board meeting to share my story.  I was glad for the opportunity to thank everyone and explain what those loans had meant to me.  When Laura asked if I’d consider joining their Board, I knew it was time for me to give back to the Jewish community which had always been there to support me.

Ironically, the first external HFLA meeting I attended happened to be with Steve Butler!  I couldn’t help but think of that pivotal conversation we’d had. I’m not sure if it struck him, but I felt extremely emotional, with hairs on the back of my neck standing up. Steve Butler’s invaluable counsel all those years before was the impetus for me getting actively involved in the San Antonio Jewish community, and I will always be grateful to him.

Fast forward to the time my kids were of college age. Their mother and I had only put enough money in savings to cover three years at a public University.  I worried how we could close that gap and after a Board meeting, happened to mention my concerns to Laura. Through her laughter, I seem to remember hearing, “DUH!”.  Again, HFLA immediately took the pressure away, as my children applied for interest-free Education Loans.  This past December, my son, Jason graduated with a double major in finance and marketing from the University of Houston, DEBT FREE.  My daughter, Megan, is a junior at UTSA, and thanks to HFLA, in 2023, she too will graduate debt free, having earned a masters’ in accounting.

I’ll always appreciate how HFLA was there for me, as well as my children during crucial times, extending much needed support. That’s why I continue to proudly serve on the HFLA Board and why I’ve included them in my LIFE & LEGACY giving. I want to do whatever I can to ensure the Association is able to continue providing this important community resource to my children’s generation, my grandchildren’s and all those which follow.

For different but equally strong emotional ties, I’m extremely pleased to have designated the JCC and Campus in my LIFE & LEGACY contributions.

As a young adult, anytime I moved to a different city, the first thing I did was join the local JCC (in Dallas, Houston and San Antonio).  More than just a building, this was the place I felt at home, where I knew I could meet other Jewish people, work out and enjoy playing ball.  To this day, many of my closest friends are people I met at these three JCC’s.

My son’s handprint is one of the originals on the wall, in front of the JCC at the San Antonio Campus, near the garden.  Every time I see that handprint, I’m reminded of all the incredible times Jason and Megan spent at the J, participating in sports, camps, and so many other activities.  The JCC has played an integral role in my life and that of my children.  It is my pleasure to give back to this vital Jewish institution. I want to know my grandchildren and their children will have the same opportunities to participate in sports, camps and the myriad of events the JCC will offer them as my children were fortunate enough to have had.  

I strongly encourage everyone to participate in the LIFE & LEGACY initiative and hope with my stories, you’ll feel a stronger attachment to the agencies I’ve chosen to include.  Regardless which organizations you designate, you should know your contributions will have a lasting impact on San Antonio’s entire Jewish community for years to come.

 

Please continue to stay safe and all the best,

Jeff