Pushke Circle Keeps Giving

Daniel Porus, Ben Hershan and Sam Bruce last year established the Pushke Giving Circle to get their friends together and raise money each year for a charity or organisation that is tackling a chosen social issue. Family Violence was the first “issue” that they tackled, and the group chose McAuley Community Services for Women as their first organisation, raising more than $7,500 for our safe house.

The name of the Pushke Giving Circle comes from the Yiddish word, Pushke, a charity box kept in Jewish homes to raise money for the disadvantaged. It’s an ancient tradition that the Pushke Giving Circle is giving a contemporary edge.

There are approximately 30 people in the Melbourne-based Pushke Giving Circle which began early last year. While many of the members are from shared Jewish networks, it is open to people from any religion and race. Each person has pledged to give $250 a year.

“We felt that we were privileged in our upbringings and now that we are young professionals, and are starting to have some disposable income, we wanted to do something to give back,” Daniel said. “What we really like about the giving circle concept is that you don’t have to be a wealthy philanthropist to make a difference. As a collective we can pool together a significant amount of money, increase our own awareness around a social issue and engage as a small community with a specific organisation that is tackling that issue.All of this increases the impact of the donations.”

The Pushke Giving Circle chose McAuley Community Services for Women after the group identified the issue of family violence and members were invited to present on various organisations working in that field. Pushke member Emma Boyar advocated for McAuley Community Services for Women.

“A diverse range of organisations were presented to the group. Each of the presentations forced us to consider which aspect of the issue we wanted to focus on and where our money could have the most impact,” Daniel said.

The Pushke Giving Circle $7,500 donation will go towards the children’s program at McAuley Care’s safe house and refuges.

Daniel and the other members were shocked to hear many of the statistics that were shared as part of the presentations. While most knew about the issue because of the media coverage in the past year or so, few understood the extent of the long-term impact on women and children.

Over the past year McAuley Care, Victoria’s only accessible 24/7 safe house and refuge service kept a total of 496 women and children safe. Two hundred and forty one children, from babies through to teenagers, accompanied by their mothers. These figures highlight the need for our increasing focus on children’s needs as much as responding to women in crisis.

One Pushke Giving Circle member, Jessica Atkins, was so moved by the work of McAuley Community Services for Women, that when a call went out for volunteers in December, she put her hand up to serve Christmas dinner to the women at McAuley House.

"Joined by my Mum, I enjoyed helping with Christmas dinner, and it was really great to see where our financial donation was going. Hearing about the services that McAuley House offers is one thing, but being involved really opened my eyes to the reality of the great work that happens there,” Jessica said.

“The thing that really resonated with me was the fact that so many of these women could be on the streets without McAuley House, and that it seems like more of a home than a house. Christmas has always been a special time for me and my family, so it was really lovely to be able to enhance the holiday for women of McAuley House."

Daniel and his fellow Pushke Giving Circle members believe the organisation has set up a structure that will make it possible to continue to impact on injustices and improve the lives of other people well into the future.