Badower Family to be honored with Friends of the Family Award
Mike Badower is a longtime supporter and volunteer of JFCS for several reasons, but one of the prominent reasons is that it simply runs in his family. When he was growing up, his mother was president of the Jewish Family and Children’s Service in Des Moines – the same agency that resettled Mike’s father when he moved to Des Moines after World War II.
JFCS Chief Executive Officer Judy Halper said it’s great Mike has carried on the family tradition of volunteering with JFCS. “Having worked closely with Mike for more than 10 years, I always imagine how proud his mother would be of him,” she said.
When Mike’s wife, Sarah, was approached in 2004 to serve on a committee of JFCS, she politely declined, as she knew much of her time was focused at the National Council for Jewish Women (NCJW), where she has been actively involved for many years, including serving as President.
However, she recommended Mike for the role, as she knew he was looking to get involved and would have time to dedicate to it. Sarah’s recommendation ended up being a great decision for both the Badowers and JFCS, as it led to a long relationship that continues to this day.
Mike served on the JFCS Board for eight years – he was Vice President of Investment for two years, and served on the Jewish Community Foundation Investment Committee for several years after chairing the JFCS Investment Committee. Following Mike’s lead, every subsequent chair of the Investment Committee has served on the Jewish Community Foundation Board. Mike never says no when asked to volunteer his time and knowledge, Halper said.
For their longtime service and commitment to JFCS and other organizations, the Mike and Sarah Badower Family will be presented with the Friends of the Family Award at JFCS’ 28th Annual Benefit Saturday, Nov. 19, at the Hilton Minneapolis.
“I am so excited to acknowledge the quiet contributions of the Badower Family!” Halper said. “Mike and Sarah have in so many ways been leaders in the Jewish and broader community, and they do it with humility, conscientiousness, and devotion.”
For Mike, it hasn’t been difficult to stay active with JFCS. “Once I got involved, I stayed involved,” he said. “You keep doing it because you want to help in any way you can. It’s a unique place that does some incredible things.”
JFCS has a very bright future ahead of it, he said, citing its recent push to address food security issues through its partnership with PRISM Food Shelf and its upcoming move into a new building. Mike pointed out that JFCS’ scope of services has continued to change and evolve since he first became involved, which is the mark of an effective organization.
He particularly praised the NextGen program for getting young professionals in their 20s and 30s involved with JFCS as volunteers and leaders. Though Mike and Sarah’s sons, Ben and Eli, don’t live in the Twin Cities, they are in that age range and Mike stressed the benefit of a program like NextGen. “It gets them involved in the community and is a great opportunity for young people, and a great benefit to the community,” he said.
Sarah’s involvement with NCJW spans many years. She said it’s powerful to see an all-women’s organization like NCJW create an impact in the fight for social justice. “It’s important for Mike and I as individuals to give back to the community,” Sarah said. “I think I get more out of the experience than the organization. If you have the time and ability to volunteer, it’s a great thing.”
Halper said JFCS and the community at large is fortunate to have people like the Badowers. “I love working with Mike and observing Sarah’s leadership,” she said. “They are true role models who care about tikkun olam (repairing the world)!”