I was asked to participate in the Temple Youth Group board meeting last month to share my experience with creating mission and vision statements. The timing couldn’t have been better given the Temple board revised their mission and vision statements recently. This was my first time attending a Youth Group board meeting and was I was thrilled to assist our Temple youth to begin the process of creating these important statements. Although I was there to present on a particular topic, I walked away from the meeting with so much more.
The group is led by Wendy Beckerman with support from Youth Group advisors Josh Dubansky, Sarah Mansfield and Samantha Kemp-Carlin. Before starting the meeting, we took a few minutes to have a quick lunch. As we ate, it was fun for me to hear the kids conversing with one another. I asked them questions about their lives and they talked about the different activities they participate in in school. Some are thinking about college and deciding where to go. Others are still a few years away from completing middle school. I realized they all seem very content, happy and comfortable being with one another just like a Jewish Youth Group should be.
After a few brief agenda items, it was my turn to present. I spoke about the reasons why mission and vision statements are important and how they provide the foundation for everything an organization does going forward. I provided examples of statements from organizations to help the board understand how others convey their mission and vision. Samantha shared the mission and vision statements from NFTY. I asked them how they would describe the current Youth Group. What do they want the Youth Group to strive for in the future?
I was truly impressed by how the board was engaged in the discussion. The youth talked about their ideas with Wendy and the youth advisors. As Samantha documented their comments, it was evident that they were truly thinking about the importance of a mission and vision statement and realized how these statements can make a positive impact in many ways. Ellie Kaufman stated, "I would love to see 500 kids be a part of our Youth Group!" Although we all smiled and laughed at the comment, I completely understood her wish to bring more Jewish kids together in a variety of ways, whether just to hang out, socialize and have fun or to support the Temple and the greater community. But most importantly, to create an environment where kids are comfortable being together as Jews and making wonderful memories.
Although the Temple Youth Group board has some work to do to finalize their mission and vision statements, I look forward to seeing their final drafts. We should all be very proud of our Youth Group board and all the kids who participate in the Youth Group. I have no doubt these young, smart and energetic kids are the future Jewish leaders of our community.
B’Shalom, Alan Adato