Family Funds Emerging Needs for Seniors

The Deutser, Hecht, Mandell Fund was established in 1992.

Posted
January 17, 2021

Family Funds Emerging Needs for Seniors

The Deutser, Hecht, Mandell Fund was established in 1992.

Posted
January 17, 2021
Houston Jewish Family Foundation Logo
“If we as Jews don’t donate to Jewish causes, who will?”
In 1992, first cousins Punkin Deutser Hecht and Jeanne Deutser Mandell came to the Jewish Family Service to establish a fund to assist members of the Jewish community in need. “Our parents arrived as immigrants and had no JFS or resettlement program to help them, so they had to take care of themselves,” explains Punkin. “But it turns out America and Houston were very good to them, so we wanted to give something back.”
“We learned early on that JFS had started programs to help Jewish immigrants find homes and jobs, so when our family decided to donate to a Houston agency, JFS was our first choice,” adds Jeanne. At first, the fund was directed towards helping with Passover Assistance to help community members have resources to purchase traditional foods for the holiday.
Punkin, married to Walter Hecht, and Jeanne, married to “Moose” Mandell, grew up in a large extended family in Houston. “Our fathers were two of 13 kids, so you can imagine the crowd at family gatherings,” states Punkin. “They had a great bond with this community, which gave them opportunity and hope.” The family originally prospered in the retail field, and later on, real estate. “We always took care of each other, and were very close.”
“As children, we were taught to be philanthropically oriented,” states Jeanne. “Our grandfather was one of the founders of Congregation Beth El. And Punkin and I have vivid memories of sitting in my home in the 1940s, listening to Golda Myerson (Meir) raise funds for Palestine. Our fathers instilled in us the importance of giving back, just as their parents had instilled in them.”
The cousins have long been active in the Houston Jewish community, and Punkin has served on the JFS Board. “I’ve known the value of JFS since I was a child, and have always been proud to take part,” she proclaims. Today the Deutser, Hecht, Mandell Fund for Senior Adult Financial Aid, helps seniors maintain their independence and empowers them with personal dignity. “Along with the blessings of seniors living longer is the responsibility to accommodate their changing needs,” admits Jeanne. “For many, there is no safety net for aging and illness. Helping seniors in need take care of themselves is our way of honoring our parents and grandparents and those of their generation. Punkin and I are thrilled with the fund, and now that this is the right time for it. Just as importantly, we know JFS is the right place.”

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