“Thank you for all the good you do and for the comfort you have brought and the light of human dignity you have honored in your wonderful efforts. We are proud and humbled to be a part of it.”
Rabbi Donna Berman, Distribution Partner
Our mission is to provide individuals in need with essential personal hygiene products so they can attend school and work and participate in community life without interruption.
The idea for Dignity Grows™ originated when members of the Greater Hartford Jewish Federation saw an Oscar-winning documentary about the lack of access to menstrual products for women in India, and the negative impact it has on their lives. Upon learning this is also a problem in communities across the U.S., not just in third-world and developing countries, we were moved to help those in our local community.
Founded by the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford’s Women’s Philanthropy
Dignity Grows began as a one-night initiative aimed at helping individuals in the Greater Hartford community who cannot afford monthly menstrual and hygiene products. The project quickly grew through word of mouth as organizations and agencies in the Hartford area learned about the mission of Dignity Grows. Dignity Totes have been delivered to an increasing number of Distribution Partners and neighbors through a variety of non-profit agencies. We have also delivered Dignity Totes to those who have experienced devastation from hurricanes in the Caribbean.
In our first 27 months, we have distributed more than 17,000 Dignity Totes for those in need.
“Thank you so much for donating the Dignity Totes to our pantry. You guys are sincerely improving lives of women who are in need.”
– Food Pantry Manager
“Unfortunately, many programs to help homeless people and shelters simply forget about items like menstrual supplies. Thanks to your group for helping women like me during this pandemic time.”
– Elizabeth C.
Meet Our Team
Jessica P. Zachs
Founder and Chair, Dignity Grows
Dignity Grows has been one of the most meaningful initiatives on which Jessica has ever worked. A lifelong donor to charities and long-time philanthropist, Jessica developed a deep passion for helping others at age 10, when she and her sisters began hosting carnivals to benefit Muscular Dystrophy in Queens, NY. Upon moving to Connecticut with her husband and young children, Jessica became actively involved with the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford and the larger community.
She is guided by the principle of Tzedakah and is an ardent believer in the Winston Churchill quote, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Jessica is inspired by the many individuals in which she has invested her volunteerism and philanthropic support.
Jessica has served on the board of directors of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford and the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center Foundation. She was a board member, vice president, co-president and co-chair of Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Hartford, where her children attended school, and she remains active well after they graduated.
Because of her work in the Hartford community, Jessica was asked to be a member of the Young Leadership Cabinet of Jewish Federations of North America and campaign co-chair in 2001. She currently serves on the National Women’s Philanthropy Board and was co-chair of Recruitment and Engagement for the 2019 International Lion of Judah Conference. The entire Zachs family is proud to have been the first recipients of ADL’s Torch of Liberty Award.
A graduate of Cornell University, Jessica is a class officer for the University. She and her husband, Eric, have passed the values of gratitude, generosity, and Tikkun Olam to their three children. Now adults, their children have continued to make giving back a family affair and are actively engaged in Jewish non-profits in their communities.
As a professionally trained chef, Jessica loves entertaining family and friends. She is as comfortable cooking for 10 as she is for 50 or more. Her legendary meals are complemented with interesting conversations and often include dancing well into the night.
Jennifer Tolman Schwartzman
Director of Operations, Dignity Grows™
Director of Community Connections, Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford
Jennifer has integrated the value of Tzedakah in both her professional and personal life. Dedicating her career to numerous areas of communal service, she has focused on education and incorporating meaningful forms of engagement. Currently the Director of Community Connections at the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford, Jennifer previously served as the coordinator of the “WOW!” experiential education program. Prior positions include camp director at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta and lead teacher at several metro-Atlanta early childhood programs.
Committed to volunteerism since she was a young adult, Jennifer volunteered for Play SAFE, a program providing a safe haven and enriching activities for children living in urban New Jersey neighborhoods. While studying for her Bachelor of Arts at Boston University, Jennifer participated in volunteer opportunities on and off campus, promoting Alzheimer’s research as well as working with organizations that provide support to individuals affected by HIV.
The mother of three young boys, Jennifer has begun to instill a passion for volunteerism in her children by fostering dogs for a local rescue organization.
Jessica L. Slater
National Coordinator, Dignity Grows™
When human beings are not treated with respect, it affects every area of their lives. Jessie’s great passion is bringing kindness and resources to those in need. Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
For over 13 years, Jessie has worked as a nonprofit professional. Her enthusiasm for helping those in need started long before when she and her elementary school friends held lemonade sales and did odd jobs for neighbors so they could adopt trees in the rainforest and save endangered whales. Jessie has worked for Lawyers Without Borders and YouthBuild U.S.A. In 2009, she began work at the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford and spent 9 wonderful years in the Greater Hartford Jewish Community. Most recently, Jessie has been pursuing her Master of Public Administration from the University of Connecticut.
Jessie is a dedicated member of the Greater Hartford Community and has volunteered for the United Way of Central and Northeastern CT as a member of the Emerging Leaders Society, for Jewish Family Services of Greater Hartford, and for Beth El Temple of West Hartford. In 2016, Jessie received the United Way of Central and Northeastern CT’s Community Champion award as part of the Emerging Leaders Society.
Jessie has a B.A. from Wheaton College in Massachusetts and a Graduate Certification in Nonprofit Management from the University of Connecticut. She is an ardent mental health advocate, an avid reader, adores all dogs and loves being near the ocean. She’s a fraternal twin and loves to talk about it!
Dignity Grows was conceived by Linda Levin and Jessica Zachs and the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford’s Women’s Philanthropy and is endorsed by the Jewish Federations of North America and National Women’s Philanthropy.