Planting Flowers for Philanthropy

IT STARTED WITH SOME floral arrangements. “I’ve always been blown away by all the things UJA does and I wanted to be a part of that,” said Stacy Hoffman, chair of the United Jewish Appeal-Federation’s Long Island Women’s Philanthropy and a member of its board of directors. Sixteen years ago she began her first project with the UJA-Federation—planting flowers to beautify the residences of adults with disabilities. In the last decade and a half, Hoffman has become an integral member of the Federation and its philanthropic activities, chairing various branches and programs, recruiting and overseeing volunteers, and expanding and creating new programs. This summer, she was honored with the Robert S. Boas award for her community leadership at the UJA’s annual Summerfest event.

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For many people, Long Island conjures images of wealth: big houses, private beaches, country clubs. Not so for Hoffman. Growing up in Roslyn, she was introduced to the world of philanthropy early on. “I grew up in a family that felt it was our duty and responsibility to pay it forward in life and get involved.” The Great Neck resident and mother of two sees beyond the surface opulence to the indigence that permeates some communities. “Unfortunately, there’s a lot of poverty on Long Island and I think it’s very hidden in some ways,” she said.

Addressing food insufficiency has long been a top priority for Hoffman. She has served as a co-chair for the UJA’s The Fourth Week initiative to help people living near or below the poverty line by encouraging donations that supplement food pantries and provide toiletries, while also helping to collect toys and school supplies for children. With Hoffman’s help, this year volunteers with the Food For Thought and Supplies for Success programs—both under The Fourth Week umbrella—packaged and donated food for 1,000 families and close to 40,000 backpacks with supplies for children.

“People are looking to do good things. All you need is compassion,” Hoffman said. Her goal is to continue finding people to join the UJA. And though she plans to step down as chair of Women’s Philanthropy, she’s not going anywhere. Over the summer, she became chair of Volunteer Engagement for UJA’s Women’s Philanthropy in Manhattan and next year she’ll chair the Federation’s Long Island Program Services Cabinet, which determines the agencies that receive grants.