When it comes to serving CJFS, Nancy Collat Goedecke has never hesitated to step up, dig in, offer guidance and give generously—until now. Nancy humbly works for the causes about which she cares passionately, trying to achieve mission, not recognition. When she was asked to be this year’s Hands Up Together honoree, she paused. With wisdom and experience, she realized that accepting this honor was an opportunity to shine a light (pun intended) on the challenges faced by older adults, and on CJFS’ vital role in meeting their needs and those of their families. She wanted her friends and colleagues to understand that CJFS supports independence and enriches quality of life for a client population that is richly diverse, not only in terms of race and religion but in terms of financial means.
“My grandmother died in 1999. She was just shy of 100, and she could have really used the services of CJFS. Honestly, my family at that time didn’t really think CJFS was for us.” Nancy shared. “But when I became involved and eventually served as Board President, it became clear that CJFS is for those who have means and for those who don’t, for those who are Jewish and those who are not – it’s for the whole community. This reality has fueled my love for the agency.” In time, Nancy also learned firsthand about the difficulties faced by family caregivers. As her mother, Patsy Collat of blessed memory, suffered with Alzheimer’s disease, Nancy saw her father, Charles Collat Sr., at first try to provide all of her care himself. “Family caregivers are so important, and it’s critical that CJFS is providing care and support for them as well as for their loved ones,” she said. “There is a great need for older adult services, and the sooner the community wraps its arms around this issue, the better off we will be.”
So, mark your calendar for 5:30 pm May 13, when CJFS will honor Nancy Collat Goedecke at our annual Hands Up Together event! The virtual event will be presented by Mayer and Medical Properties Trust, Inc. Event Chairs are Marjorie Perlman and Emmett McLean, and the event’s Honorary Chair is Charles Collat Sr. “Nancy has always been so generous in giving of her time and resources for so many worthy organizations, especially CJFS,” Emmett said in explaining his desire to co-chair the event. “You can always count on Nancy to help, so honoring her was an easy decision for me, to show my appreciation for all that she has done.”
Along the way, Nancy has mentored others. “As a member of Nancy’s executive committee when she was CJFS Board President, I learned so much about leadership in the non-profit world,” Marjorie said. “She is a motivator and a visionary who is not afraid to get her hands dirty – and we also share a mutual love of red wine, and love/hate relationship with golf.”
Nancy, a Birmingham native, is CEO and Chairman of Mayer, one of the nation’s largest wholesale distributors of electrical products, equipment, and lighting. She is well-known in her industry, and in greater Birmingham, as a leader and philanthropist. In 2015, she was the first woman to chair the United Way of Central Alabama’s annual campaign; that highly successful, $38.8 million effort was just one of her groundbreaking achievements.CJFS is among many organizations that benefit from Nancy’s hard work and generous spirit. The agency and its leaders rely on for her wise counsel and her willingness to roll up her sleeves for tasks large and small. And she (almost) always says yes right away.
Hands Up Together 2021 will be presented on Zoom from 5:30-6:15 pm on Thursday, May 13. This annual event helps make it possible for CJFS to provide care and support for older adults in greater Birmingham. CJFS programs and services support independence and enrich quality of life for older adults, regardless of their faith or financial ability.