Pittsburgh’s golden girls would like to thank you for being a friend. Doris Kennedy, Margit Diamond, Dorothy Schorin, Inge Katzenstein, Ruth Ganz, Jean Gershon, Flo Wise and Sylvia Bober — all residents of Weinberg Terrace — met on Tuesday evening, Feb. 2 in the Weinberg Club at Weinberg Terrace to participate in the first annual Thank-A-Thon. The event, which was organized by Beverly Brinn, offered gratitude to Jewish Association on Aging benefactors while potentially developing a volunteer corps.
“I have been wanting to do this for several years,” said Brinn, JAA’s director of development and community engagement. “It serves to benefit residents and our cherished donors.”
Thank-A-Thon, the two-night event at Weinberg Terrace (Feb. 2) and at Weinberg Village (Feb. 3), began with training and instructions from Brinn. Participants were then provided a customized list of 2015 donors’ names and phone numbers along with a Thank-A-Thon script. The text provided an initial statement as well as variable replies.
The script advised callers to start by stating, “Hello, I’m calling to say thank you to (Name). Are they available?”
Then, whether the call recipient answered yes, no, had a question or did not answer at all, an appropriate response was provided. For example, for a yes reply, the script read:
“Hi. My name is _____ and I am a resident of Weinberg Terrace. I am calling to thank you for your donation to the Jewish Association on Aging in 2015. As a senior resident, your support means so much to me. Thank you!”
Brinn noted that regardless of the recipient’s response, or whether a caller left a message, no solicitations were made. Thank-A-Thon was not a fundraising event, she explained.
“There is no solicitation, it’s strictly a thank you for your support from those who benefit.”
Foregoing solicitations appealed to Schorin. When asked about the event, the Weinberg Terrace resident replied, “So far, it’s not so bad because I haven’t had to ask them for money.”
Katzenstein claimed that the lack of solicitation was surprising to some.
“Everybody we’ve called has said thank you. I think they’re expecting a solicitation call and are shocked that we aren’t soliciting,” she said.
Brinn said that in 2015 approximately 1,500 donors contributed to the JAA, with the majority of gifts being less than $25.
“Most are in the $15 to $25 [range], many commemorate yahrzeits. We just want to make sure we thank these folks because they add up,” said Brinn.
By having residents personally thank donors, “everyone benefits,” she added. Donors receive a solicitation-free thank you, and volunteers engage in a purposeful opportunity.
“The phoning is good experience,” said Ganz.
“I like to give back a little whenever I can. At my age, 88, whatever I can do, I do,” said Diamond.
Brinn hopes to galvanize her cadre of callers into a regular regiment. “I hope it evolves into a volunteer corps.”
She envisions a scenario in which each month residents are provided names of donors, “so if they want to make phone calls, they can do it from their room if they want.”
But for now, Thank-A-Thon remains in its infancy. And apart from the distracting sounds of other callers, volunteers found the first annual Thank-A-Thon favorable.
“Why not?” said Kennedy.
Adam Reinherz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.