Atlanta Community News

Michele and David Hirsch: Relentless Support for Family Mental Health

By September 12, 2023April 4th, 2024No Comments

Michele and David Hirsch come from people who give philanthropically. It’s in their family DNA to use their resources in service of others and to build a caring community. Atlanta Jewish Foundation is part of this family’s philanthropy toolkit. 

“We use our donor-advised fund (DAF) to broaden our support for organizations we care about. Our DAF is a charitable checking account that makes giving simple! The support and guidance we get from the professionals is superb.”

When their own son began to show signs of mental illness at the age of five, the Hirsches were thrust into the world of mental health providers, therapeutic programs, and services. Though they were able to find and afford high-quality psychiatric treatment, they quickly understood that most families cannot. “Treatment centers for youth can cost upwards of $18,000 per month,” Michele says. “Multiple hospitalizations can drain family resources, and insurance often covers very little.” 

Their deep belief that mental wellness is foundational to human health led them to create the Peaceful Family Fund at JF&CS in partnership with Jewish Interest-Free Loan of Atlanta (JIFLA). The fund assists eligible families with expenses for the treatment of behavioral and psychiatric issues in children ages 8-18. Children are granted up to $50,000 to spend on various costs associated with receiving long-term out-of-home care. “A licensed clinician on the JF&CS team reviews all applications to the fund,” Michele explains. “Once a child is in our system, we get reports from the child’s clinical team. We follow the family and even provide funding for parents to travel and see their kids in treatment.” 

“We talk very openly about mental health in our family. And we talk about philanthropy with our kids, too. Because we have made giving a way of life, they understand that tzedakah means helping people we don’t even know, and that kindness is core to being Jewish.”