A legacy fund for a beloved late Pinner resident has raised more than £40,000 in her memory.
Leonie Lewis z”l devoted her life to helping others and was recognised with an MBE for her lifetime involvement within the Jewish community. She ran the Jewish Volunteering Network (JVN) from its inception in 2007 until her retirement in 2019 and was involved in numerous projects for those of all faiths and circles.
Leonie sadly passed away in April 2022, but the legacy of her work lives on.
JVN has established the Leonie’s Life and Legacy fund and dedicated their annual Celebration of Volunteering awards on January 15 to her memory.
Howard, Leonie’s husband, said: “Leonie was a very special person. She wanted to help everyone, and volunteering was at the heart of what she did. She passionately believed that volunteering was of great benefit to the individual as well as the organisation they were helping. Because all of her professional and paid jobs were getting people to volunteer for things they never knew they wanted to do, she in turn never said no to any cause that needed her help in a voluntary capacity.”
JVN initially set a fundraising goal of £36,000 to promote volunteering in the community. The Hebrew word for life, ‘Chai’, equates to the number 18 due to the numeric value of the letters. With the word holding great spiritual importance to many, gifts and charity targets are often in multiples of 18 to emphasise life.
The fund has sailed past the target and has raised more than £41,700 at the time of writing.
A spokesperson for JVN said: “Leonie’s Legacy has been set up to honour all the amazing work she did to encourage people to volunteer. All donations, big or small, will be put towards vital work building the volunteering community, continuing Leonie’s life passion.
“Leonie believed that volunteers were the lifeblood of our community and what we do as volunteers is a reflection of our society. Furthermore, there is tremendous potential with interfaith volunteering of breaking down barriers and widening communities to bring people together.
“The pandemic has brought shifts in volunteering and the cost-of-living crisis is bringing more challenges. Whilst more people volunteered at the start of the pandemic, the general trend is downwards. We need to rekindle past volunteers’ passion and get more people enjoying the benefits of volunteering to themselves and to society.”
Many other organisations that Leonie touched have also shown their love and gratitude.
Howard added: “Leonie loved trees and she would have been really delighted to see that two trees that she arranged to be planted in Pinner Village Gardens to mark Interfaith Week in 2020 were dedicated to her within a few weeks of her passing.”
Faiths Forum for London have signalled their intention to plant 100 trees during 2023 in London in Leonie’s memory and the United Synagogue, where Leonie was the first female trustee and later vice president, is organising a speaker to give an annual lecture in her name.
Howard said: “She would have been overcome that so many people want to get projects going in the areas of work in which she devoted her life, because in a world of so many differences, she just wanted to bring people together.”
To donate to Leonie’s Legacy, please visit the JustGiving page at www.justgiving.com/campaign/leonieslegacy