JWRP Sister Spotlight: Leigh Bennett
Leigh Bennett is a wife, mother, employee benefits insurance advisor, and JWRP sister who lives in Dallas. When Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, Leigh was devastated to learn that her friends’ homes and synagogues were destroyed. We spoke with Leigh about how she got involved in the relief efforts and how other women can, too.
What inspired you to travel to Israel with the JWRP?
My friend, who also became my madricha, had told me about her MOMentum experience and encouraged me to apply. I was excited to travel to Israel with hundreds of other mothers and to reconnect with myself. I’m the mother of two busy daughters and I also work full-time, so most of the time, I’m focused on giving to those around me. On my MOmentum Trip, I wanted to pause my life for eight days and spend some time giving to myself.
How did MOMentum impact you?
Traveling to Israel as a mother was incredible because it made me think about the traditions I want to pass onto my children. When I visited the Kotel, I was especially inspired to pass on a love of Judaism to them. I also came away with the knowledge that G-d has a reason for doing everything He does. While in Yad Vashem, I learned that my husband had been rushed to the hospital. Thankfully, he was okay, and I felt fortunate to be surrounded by women who love and care about me. The experience also reminded me how lucky I am to have my family and made me appreciate them even more. These days, when life gets hectic, I try to take a step back. I know that when I take the time to reconnect with myself, I become a better wife, mother, employee, and person.
Tell us about your volunteer efforts to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey.
This hurricane hit especially close to home because it impacted so many of my friends and their families. My heart when out to a friend who was stuck on the second floor of her home during the hurricane. Another friend, who is a rabbi in Houston, not only needs to rebuild his home, but he needs to rebuild his synagogue, too.
When I saw that the Jewish Learning Center (JLC), the Partner Organization that hosted my MOMentum experience, was running a collection drive for the Houston community, I immediately headed to Target to pick up cleaning supplies. From my conversations with friends and from watching the news, I saw how desperately people needed cleaning supplies to begin cleaning out the wreckage from their homes. Though there were many, many organizations that I could’ve donated to, I chose to donate through the JLC because it had made such an impact on me through MOMentum. When I showed up, I was happy to see that the collection drive room was filled, and that many of my JWRP sisters had gotten involved.
My eldest daughter, who is part of a leadership program at her high school, helped organize a collection drive, too, and I donated clothing, socks, underwear, wipes, formula, and diapers. Houston has been hit very hard, but they are a strong, wonderful community, and I know that they will rebuild the city and become stronger than ever.
How can JWRP sisters make a difference in the hurricane relief efforts?
Check in with your friends who were affected, see how they’re doing, and provide emotional support. There are lots of organizations collecting funds and items. Find one that is legitimate and that feels meaningful to you. If everyone gave a little bit, we could make a big difference. Every little bit really does add up.