A few months before his bar mitzvah last January, Jacob Hahn toured the Northeast Baltimore group homes and TranZed Conference Center of the Children’s Guild. The guild provides services, programming and resources for children, adolescents and families with emotional, behavioral, physical or mental challenges.
Jacob, 13, was so impressed with the guild and its mission that he decided to hold his reception at the conference center and donate 10 percent of his bar mitzvah gifts — $1,000 — to the 65-year-old nonprofit. The funds will go toward the guild’s treatment foster care program and Staffa House group home.
Jacob recently presented the $1,000 check to Andrew Ross, the guild’s president and CEO, at the organization’s headquarters with his parents, Laura and Andrew Hahn, in attendance.
“When I went with my parents to find a room for my bar mitzvah party, I was impressed with the idea that the money used to rent the room was going to go directly back into the programs that the Children’s Guild runs,” said Jacob, a Lutherville-Timonium resident and seventh-grade student at Ridgely Middle School.
Altruism is a big part of Jacob’s life. He volunteers for such organization as Manna House and the Kennedy Krieger Institute.
But the guild’s mission touched him in a profound way.
“Over the last several months, I have started to visit the Children’s Guild to understand some of their programs and services,” Jacob said in his bar mitzvah speech. “I learned that there are organizations that help people that have had tough times. The Children’s Guild, for example, finds homes and provides services for children who need to go into the foster care system due to some type of trauma at home, such as violence, drugs or abuse.
“While spending time volunteering with the Children’s Guild, I saw firsthand the message of my Torah portion,” he said. “These kids and the adults that work with and provide a normal life for them are living the message of, ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ These kids who get services and housing have been through so much, and this makes me realize how many advantages I have that I sometimes take for granted.”
Said Laura Hahn: “When he asked to volunteer, it seemed as though they had never had a request to volunteer from a non-adult. However, they allowed him to set up, plan and be involved in learning and understanding two key portions of their services.”
Jacob’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Andrew Busch of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, said he was impressed with Jacob’s sense of compassion and selflessness.
“Before, during and after Jacob’s bar mitzvah, he thought seriously about the meaning of his own education and the importance of caring for others in the world,” the rabbi said. “He was not just fulfilling requirements, but cares about the world.”
Said Andrew Hahn: “We are so proud of Jacob for donating the money. But even more than the donation, the part we are most proud of was Jacob’s decision-making process from learning and understanding more about the participants in the Children’s Guild services, to his realization that some of his gifts would be put to better use than simply being spent.”
LaMar Williams, the guild’s corporate communications and conference center coordinator, said she and her colleagues were incredibly grateful for Jacob’s donation of time and money.
“He truly has a philanthropic spirit and understands the significance of giving back,” Williams said of Jacob. “What he did was so awesome!”
Taryn Womach is Jmore’s Editorial Intern.