- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Have you checked on the price of that bouquet of roses for Mother’s Day, which is fast approaching? Like everything else, saying how much you appreciate that special nurturer in your life with a dozen long-stemmed beauties is bound to bust your already tight budget — try about $60 to $70.

If you really want to be a “mensch” and get a steal of a deal watching your Mother’s Day gift stretch to do even greater good, visit the Jewish Women International’s Web site, www.jwi.org, and check out its 10th annual Mother’s Day Flower Project.

Today, you can purchase an e-card in appreciation or in memory of your mother, grandmother, godmother or the “special woman like a mother,” as well as for aunts, sisters, friends and daughters. The proceeds will make this year’s Mother’s Day and beyond special for the nation’s battered women and their children.

Not only will battered women living in 150 homeless shelters nationwide — a dozen of them from the House of Ruth in Baltimore to My Sister’s Place in the District to Safe Harbor in Richmond — receive bouquets of roses this week to brighten their special day, their children will also receive new books, library furniture, rocking chairs and desks that will last all year in conjunction with the JWI National Library Initiative.

Here’s your “opportunity to do a mitzvah.”

With donations beginning at $25, honorees will be sent the JWI’s preprinted Mother’s Day card, featuring the painting “Long Life” by Israeli artist Betty Rubinstein, which will notify them of the important contribution made in their name. Prior to today, the greeting cards could be sent through snail mail.

“This is a catalyst for a community of volunteers and donors to come together to do something for women in shelters … symbolically it is such a show of support,” said Lori Weinstein, executive director of JWI.

More than 25,000 women will spend Mother’s Day in a battered-women’s shelter, based on 2006 statistics compiled by Lifetime Television.

According to the 2007 National Census for Domestic Violence Services, conducted by the National Network to End Domestic Violence, 53,000 victims of domestic violence are served by shelters and non-residential programs each day in this country. Each minute, domestic violence hot lines answer more than 14 calls for help. Nearly 8,000 of those requests for help went unmet because of lack of funds.

“Mother’s Day is fraught with so much emotion and so many feelings,” said Ms. Weinstein. Some women will be in a shelter for the first time this Mother’s Day. It can remind them of happier times. And the hope is the flowers will “help them stay strong and resolute in their decisions,” she said.

JWI expects to send out 6,000 Mother’s Day cards this year. The annual fundraising project, with the goal of reaching $150,000, also supports the domestic-violence awareness, conferences and programs that the organization conducts all year, including one that trains young girls to value and protect themselves.

Ms. Weinstein hopes the Mother’s Day project also heightens awareness so people will not hesitate to report suspicions of abuse and will lobby for laws supporting victims.

JWI works with faith-based organizations, the community, student partners, and ProFlowers to provide the Mother’s Day Project bouquets. The D.C. office of the law firm Weil, Gotshal and Manges provides money and volunteers for My Sister’s Place in the District.

Nichelle Mitchem, executive director of My Sister’s Place, where mothers have received JWI flowers for 10 years, said that with the limited resources, her small, community-based Northeast shelter “needs as many partners it can get.”

Confession: You know I had to look up “mensch” and “mitzvah” in the dictionary, right, after the JWI organizers asked in their solicitation, “isn’t that what all Jewish mothers really want from their kids?”

Well, if you “decent, upright” and purposeful people have any extra money left over after you spread your blessings with this “good and praiseworthy deed” for those women and children in need, take heart, you still have time to get a few last-minute flower deals online for Mom and her mother surrogates.

For more information about the Mother’s Day Flower Project, call 800-343-2823 or visit www.jwi.org. For the national domestic violence hot line, call 800-799-SAFE (7233) or for TTY, 800-787-3224.

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