Profile: Just 5 Club Helps Families In Need

This winter quarter, skip your daily latte and put that five dollars to good use by helping a family in need instead. Her Campus spoke with fourth year psychobiology majors, Ashley Meyer and Shadi Hanukaai about their involvement in Just 5 and how students can help give back. Just 5 is a club created by UCLA students to help needy families in Los Angeles facing unexpected hardships.

Her Campus: What makes Just 5 unique among all other service organizations?

Shadi Hanukaai: Just 5 is unique in the way our donors are helping families on a monthly basis. A lot of organizations receive one time donations from people for one specific case, but we try to make Just 5 into a community where donors feel involved in helping others in the community. Something we do that is special is we send out monthly newsletters highlighting exactly where your donation is going. I feel by informing the donors, they can make a connection and feel proud that their donation is going to good use.

Ashley Meyer: Since it’s creation in 2013, it has given 100% of all donations to families battling situations such as homelessness, emergency medical bills, domestic violence and more.

HC:  $5 for a college students seems affordable. How does the giving process work?

SH: Becoming a donor for Just 5 is extremely easy! Anyone who has a credit card can visit our website and right on the homepage there are options for various amounts one can donate. Click whichever one you’d like and fill out the billing information and that’s it! Then donors can wait each month and see how they are making a difference for only $5!

HC: What inspired you to be a part of Just 5?

AM: About a year ago one of my best friends came to me and asked if I wanted to be a part of a non-profit organization that his older brother had created. The more he explained Just 5 and its message, the more and more I fell in love with the idea. It is amazing how something as simple as $5 a month can make such a difference in the lives of families in our community. I remember looking forward to receiving the first monthly newsletter and learning about  where the donations for that month had gone. I now have the honor of writing the newsletters that go out to our donors every month, and I do my best to make sure that our donors feel the impact that they make. 

HC: How do you find families that are in need?

AM: A lot of our outreach is done through social media and word of mouth. We often hear about cases through Facebook or Instagram and reach out to ask if there is anything we can do to help. We also reach out to organizations that may know families in need and tell them about our work with Just 5.

HC: What's a life lesson that Just 5 has taught you?

AM: When I initially began my involvement in Just 5, I viewed it as a way to have a part in an organization that makes an impact in our community. What I did not know was that the impact Just 5 has had on me would be tenfold. I have learned about the importance of a strong community and I have witnessed its power. I have also seen, first-hand, that a little bit goes a long way. 

HC: What is a common misconception or misunderstanding that people have about Just 5?

AM: Many people are concerned with confiding to Just 5 due to confidentiality reasons. All of our recipients and applicants are kept anonymous, and even our board members do not have access to this information. Another common misunderstanding that people have about Just 5 is that we only donate to Jewish families. This actually could not be further from the truth! Our organization happened to start in the Jewish community, and many of our referrals come from rabbis in the community, but we have always been open and willing to help all families, and we are looking forward to expanding to more and more communities in the next few years. 

HC: What story has been the most inspiring for you?

SH: This past August we helped a woman who recently left an abusive marriage in order to give her kids a safe, stable home and I find her courage to be extremely admirable. Unfortunately, there are many people who are in toxic relationships, but find it difficult to leave because being a single parent is very tough. But, she was able to overcome any fear and doubt and do what she could to help her kids. This unconditional love to protect her children is truly inspiring and something that all us women can learn from. I was so happy that we could help her just a few days before she was going to move out and I hope that our donation made her stressful situation a little easier.

HC: What challenges has your organizations faced?

SH: Many times we receive multiple applications in a month and unfortunately we cannot always donate to every case. In times like these we have a board where we discuss each case and vote on who we will assist that month and which cases will be reconsidered in the future. This can be difficult because all of our cases are deserving of donations and we would love to help everyone. Hopefully we can get more donors and be able to support multiple families a month! 

HC: What advice do you have for students that want to get involved and maybe can't afford the monthly donation/what other opportunities do you offer for students who want to get involved but can't afford the monthly donation?

AM: We would be so grateful to people who spread the word about our organization and refer us to individuals or families who could qualify as recipients! This would be an amazing way to be involved and make an impact without subscribing as a monthly donor.  

HC: Do you have any upcoming events/programs that our readers can look out for?

SH: We are currently in the early stages of hosting an event with another student organization here at UCLA. We hope to have a challah bake where students are invited to make their own bread and we will donate it to families!

If you’re interested in donating to the Just 5 Club or finding out more information, check out their website and Instagram

We can't wait to see what amazing things you do in the future, Ahley and Shadi!