January 15, 2016
Two of Talia Fleisig’s favorite things are dancing and volunteering at the YWCA Central Alabama. The 13-year-old recently found the perfect way to combine her two loves when she launched “YWCA Dances with Smiles,” her Bat Mitzvah project.
So far, she’s raised $3,000 from family members and friends to help ensure that The Dance Foundation can continue to provide weekly classes for the children of homeless and working poor families served by the YWCA. “Everyone should be able to dance,” Talia said. “I dance in my house, the grocery store, at school, in the middle of a kickball game or anywhere.”
For years, the agency, formerly known as Children’s Dance Foundation, has provided free movement classes for the YW’s preschool children through its Community Partnership program. Each Thursday morning, the girls and boys hop, twirl, skip and sing with instructor Jasmine Rodgers as pianist Steve McKinney plays fun, upbeat songs.
“We are so grateful to The Dance Foundation for all they do for us,” said Delyne Hicks, senior director of child development services. “The children have so much fun, and the classes help them to move, grow, develop, learn to listen and to appreciate music. We have as much fun watching them as they do participating. You just can’t watch them without getting a big smile on your face.”
Talia volunteers at the YW with her grandmother, Cathy Friedman, a former Board member and longtime supporter. In addition, Talia and her classmates at N.E. Miles Jewish Day School raised money last year through pancake breakfasts and other projects to benefit area nonprofits as part of the school’s philanthropy program. At the urging of Talia, who received the school’s Karen Entman Nomberg Award for Service and Academic Excellence, the class selected the YWCA as one of the organizations it would support financially.
“I love volunteering and I hope to keep doing it for a long time,” Talia said. “When I went to the YWCA to watch the class, it made me feel so good watching them because they were laughing and happy. My goal was to help offset the cost of The Dance Foundation visiting the YWCA.”
Yolanda Sullivan, YWCA CEO, said she loves to see young people who are passionate about helping others. “Talia is an amazing young lady, and the fact that she wants to help both organizations warms my heart,” she said. “We are thrilled her grandmother introduced her to the YW and made her part of the new generation of our YW family.”
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