Positive Action Comes From Trauma

When Bruce Goodman joined the board of JFS, he wanted to support others in need. Little did he realize he would benefit directly from the support services after his own traumatic event.

On February 9, 2021, Bruce was mugged while walking through the Minneapolis skyway. When he spoke to JFS CEO Ruth Olkon about what happened, she suggested he contact JFS therapist Tara Burns, MA, for short-term counseling through the Community Support Program. Those sessions which included Tara asking, “what does empathy mean to you,” helped Bruce reframe the harrowing event and focus on moving forward.

One of the disturbing outcomes of the experience was that often when Bruce told his story, people focused on the color of his assailant. He realized he needed to change his conversation with others. He determined he would turn his tragedy into a positive force in our community.

Bruce approached Ruth again and said he wanted to donate to a program supporting diversity. He wanted to create opportunities for learning and acceptance with all age groups. Bruce said, “JFS helped me heal which I could not do otherwise, and proactively look at my own biases and institutional racism in society. My hope is that youth develop strong self-worth of their identities and there is constructive dialogue for community change.”

Jodi Saltzman, Community Engagement Manager, suggested the Read in Color Little Free Library initiative. Bruce loved the idea, and he agreed to sponsor the library. There was only one Read in Color Little Free Library in the Twin Cities, and now there would be two. The program brings diverse books to Little Free Library book-sharing boxes that provide perspectives on racism and social justice; celebrate BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and other marginalized voices; and incorporate experiences from all identities for all readers. Books will be purchased from BIPOC-owned, independent bookstores. They will be provided free of charge to people in the community to read, share, and discuss with one another. Free programming, including book discussion groups, will be offered through the Community Engagement department.