The Milwaukee Jewish Free Loan Association is now targeting loans to those adopting a child or otherwise growing their families.
The local nonprofit, which makes interest-free loans for various personal needs, has created a fund specifically for adoption and growing families. The Eileen and Glenn Graves Growing Families Loan Fund is the brainchild of MJFLA co-founder and Executive Director Ginny Gendelman and new board member Eileen Graves.
“The association made an adoption loan at the beginning of the year and we were excited about this way to help people in our community,” Gendelman said. “We thought, ‘Let’s try to establish a fund to do that.’”
The idea met with strong support from MJFLA board members, two of whom are adoptive parents. Then, during her new board member orientation in May, Eileen Graves was immediately captivated by the idea.
“Ginny and [development director] Felicia Miller explained that adoption is an expensive process – there are legal fees and agency fees – and said that if they could provide loans to address this need, more people would be able to adopt,” said Graves, a longtime special-education teacher.
“I got teary because my son and daughter-in-law had just had twins and my husband and I were enjoying the experience of being first-time grandparents. This issue spoke to us in a profound way: our feeling is that no one should be prevented from having the family of their dreams because of financial reasons.”
The Graves family offered a lead gift to establish the fund, which is for adoption, fertility treatments, or to otherwise help a family grow.
The new fund joins nine others in MJFLA’s holdings, which provide personal and college-student loans. A non-sectarian 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the revolving loan funds are entirely supported by members of the community through private donations. As loans are repaid, MJFLA recycles those funds into new loans – to date, more than $1 million.
“When people come to us, they don’t want charity; they’re looking for a way to solve their own financial challenge through a transaction where they can borrow the money and pay it back,” said Gendelman. “Our tagline is, ‘We offer a hand up, not a handout:’ We’re all about making sure that people receive the help they need while still maintaining their dignity.”
The initial adoption loan that inspired the idea for the Eileen and Glenn Graves Growing Families Loan Fund follows this pattern, according to Gendelman. A community member had been involved in the adoption process for three years, amassing the requisite fees with job-related savings and fundraisers. Before she had accrued the full amount, she was notified that a child was ready to be placed with her – earlier than expected. That’s when she turned to MJFLA, receiving a loan for the last few thousand dollars to meet the full cost of the adoption fees.
This is the story that inspired Eileen and Glenn Graves. “It’s a passion for us,” Eileen said. “We just want to help people fulfill their dream of having a family.”
Learn more at 414-961-1500 or Mjfla.org.