Oberlin students want to change the world, and these Obie parents are helping them begin from within.

New York-based parents Jacalyn Brecher and Ross Moskowitz P’17 were thrilled when their daughter, Maya ’17, found Oberlin College. Maya knew from the moment she stepped foot on campus that Oberlin was the place for her. Amidst the driving rain of a stormy summer day and the inconvenience of a regional power outage, Jacalyn recalls that as they crossed Tappan Square, Maya stopped and said, “Oberlin is it.”

As Maya’s college journey unfolded, she immediately became engaged in many creative and socially conscious activities, and Jacalyn and Ross took note of how Oberlin students drive and strive to change the world. As college first-years, Jacalyn says, students “navigate the cornucopia of opportunities. Oberlin has so much to offer and the students at Oberlin are motivated. They feel as though they have to do everything right away as if they are days away from graduating, which can make the practicalities of day-to-day college life stressful.”

A student stands with her family
Pictured from left to right: Jacalyn Brecher, Maya B. Moskowitz '17, Ross F. Moskowitz, Emma Moskowitz.

Ross and Jacalyn believe “Oberlin is an unbelievable gem,” and as Maya continued her journey at Oberlin and experienced everything from politics on campus to filming a refugee documentary in Lesvos, they too immersed themselves within the fabric of Oberlin. Serving as volunteers and providing philanthropic support to all students through gifts to the Parents Fund, Jacalyn and Ross built a deep connection to Oberlin.

As graduation approached for Maya, they reflected upon her experience and growth and wanted to give back to the Oberlin community in a meaningful and lasting way. Ross and Jacalyn saw a need among students for an outlet to acknowledge and relieve daily pressure. “Oberlin students want to have an impact on the world, but they have to start by taking care of themselves, and they often arrive on campus without have the tools to do so,” Jacalyn says.

Inspired by the college’s plan for the Patricia ’63 & Merrill ’61 Shanks Health and Wellness Center and drawing on their personal beliefs in the mind-body-soul connection and a holistic approach to health and wellness, they decided to establish the Moskowitz-Brecher Wellness Initiative Fund in honor of Maya on her graduation. Once endowed, these funds will support Oberlin College and Conservatory health and wellness programming. Jacalyn and Ross hope funding will help channel the pressure students endure and provide them with essential tools for mind and body wellness needed as they go forward confidently to “live, learn and lead.”

Vice President and Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo agrees. “The creation of the Wellness Initiative Fund will promote student thriving by providing resources to promote both physical and mental health,” she says. “This funding will support programming within the walls of our new facility to encourage all students to make wellness a priority in their daily lives.”

Jacalyn and Ross also want their gift to inspire other parents to make wellness programming at Oberlin a philanthropic priority. “One of our goals in establishing a permanent endowed fund was to provide a mechanism through which other parent donors can make contributions. The fund was specifically set up so that gifts of any size can be directed to it to help grow its impact over time and allow greater participation from the Oberlin community. We can all be a part of the solution,” Ross says.

Dean Raimondo concurs: “We are extremely grateful to the Moskowitz-Brecher family for their generosity. The need for wellness program is evergreen, and this funding will be a steady source of support for generations to come.”

Parents, alumni and friends are invited to contribute to the Moskowitz-Brecher Wellness Initiative by writing it in as the designation when you make your gift at www.oberlin.edu/donate. If you have any questions, please contact the Office of Parent and Family Giving at (440) 775-5473.