In 2003, Elaine Geller moved back to Cleveland after many years in California. Her husband had recently died and she had just retired from her position as a vice president of the Federal Reserve System. She was looking for a meaningful, supportive community to get involved in, and she found it in the National Council of Jewish Women/Cleveland.
Geller liked that she did not have to “put in her time” before she could start making a difference. NCJW has more than 18 community service projects with which she could immediately start volunteering. She also liked that though the organization is inspired by Jewish values, its mission is to help improve the lives of all women, children and families throughout Cleveland.
Elaine Geller is the embodiment of the Jewish philosophy to “speak up, judge righteously, champion the poor and the needy.” She’s been NCJW/Cleveland’s vice president of finance and treasury (four years), and recording secretary (two years), among other work. In recent years, Geller has felt that her responsibility as a NCJW/Cleveland volunteer extends beyond the community in front of her, to the wider community in which she lives.
This ideal drove her to learn about — and then lead — the Stop Human Trafficking committee two years ago, the first Jewish Cleveland organization aimed at advocating for and protecting trafficking victims, a $32 billion annual criminal industry.
Each year an estimated 1,078 Ohio children become victims, and 3,016 more are at risk.
BATTLING A SINISTER INDUSTRY
Geller and her committee drive to local hotels monthly to drop off pictures of missing children, to distribute posters listing signs to look for to identify trafficking victims, and to hand out free soap — labeled with the human trafficking hotline — to cleaning and hotel staff.
Geller and her committee have spoken to more than a dozen local organizations and businesses about human trafficking....