Sure, history may be “his story,” but don’t write off the ladies. These enterprising and passionate women saw problems and took matters into their own hands. Where would we be today without them?
Babette Gatzert is on the roll call for the very first Seattle charity, the Ladies Relief Society, in 1884. Formed by 15 pioneer women concerned about poverty and poor or orphaned children, the organization obtained a house and built an orphanage on land donated by Louisa and David Denny in lower Queen Anne. The organization still exists, albeit serving a different population, as Seattle Children’s Home. Gatzert was involved with other causes, too, including the creation of the Settlement House for Jewish immigrants. Today, this is Neighborhood House, and it serves a variety of populations in need of social services.
Jewish Family Service as we know it started with one Esther Levy, who, in 1892, gathered 37 women to form the Ladies Hebrew Benevolent Society. The original society assisted destitute new arrivals to Seattle. Esther’s daughter, Lizzie Cooper, took over her mother’s position as board president in 1900. A men’s society followed in 1895, and they merged in 1926. Today, Jewish Family Service offers a wide range of needs: refugee resettlement, a food bank, education, domestic violence support, and addiction counseling — just a few of their programs.
Caroline Kline Galland
Born in Bavaria in 1841, Caroline Rosenberg married the successful Lazarus Kline and later the retired merchant Bonham Galland. With no children, she devoted her life and money to aiding the poor. When she died in 1907, she left over a million dollars to charity and most of her estate to the establishment of a home for Jewish elders. Her legacy includes the Kline Galland nursing home, on the site of her home in Seward Park, and a network of services for the elderly Jewish population.