Memphis Jewish Home & Rehab’s New Philanthropy and Community Engagement Director
For those of us who were blessed to grow up in the 901, we know what a special community we have here in Jewish Memphis. Keeping us together are the many generations of families who have called the Bluff City home, including the Menke family. And one family member, Kate Menke, is continuing an exciting trend that’s really blasted off in the past few years – younger generations of native Memphians returning to their beloved hometown to live and work. (Welcome back, y’all!)
Kate is now serving as Memphis Jewish Home and Rehab’s (MJHR) director of philanthropy and community engagement. Her love of Memphis and passion and energy for her new position are simply contagious.
“I was floored and honored to be offered this incredible position. I’ll be meeting with donors, processing incoming donations, and growing and maintaining those important relationships,” explains Kate. “Though around 70% of MJHR’s patient population is not Jewish, most of our donors are Jewish. And it’s Bobby [Meadow’s] vision to bring youth and vitality to the role, so I can engage my generation more, as well as non-Jewish Memphians, to grow our sphere of donors.”
Kate is already devoting loads of time, attention, and creativity to her pivotal role. She’s bursting with new ideas. “I love working with people and building relationships, and I’m looking at new ways to network with younger communities and non-Jewish communities,” says Kate. “I plan to make new connections, find new sponsorship establishments for our golf tournament, start an Instagram account, look to partner with Theatre Memphis, hold auctions, collaborate with local restaurants and breweries, host a 5k/10k race, put on an outdoor summer concert series, Happy Hours, and because our patients and residents are huge Memphis Tiger fans, we would love to team up with Penny Hardaway and the Memphis Tigers.
“I have a fun idea called ‘Pupdates’ with our resident dog, Ginger,” she added. “And I’m going to create a way to show a day in the life of our residents. I believe donors want to see where their money goes here and how their dollars are making a difference in our residents’ lives. Families want to see that their loved ones are safe, protected, and happy.”
“Kate’s enthusiasm, caring attitude, and positive spirit were apparent the first time we met her,” remarks Howard Hayden, MJHR board chair. “She is already busy implementing fresh ideas and interacting with residents and staff. We are fortunate to have Kate as a valuable part of the team and are confident she will be successful.”
Though she’s clearly busy at work, her family is also a priority. “Now that I’m back home, I love spending time with my aunt Melinda, and uncle Tom, my sister, Elizabeth Anne and brother-in-law Charles, my adorable nieces, 2-year-old Georgia and 5-month-old Josephine. And soon my mom, Elizabeth, will be moving home,” shares Kate. “We’re a tiny but tightknit family and have been spread out over the country for the past decade, so it’s amazing to be together again. We all love to cook and eat, so time together usually involves one or both of those activities. Georgia, loves her little play kitchen and in no time will be artfully crafting pies just like her mom. It’s not unusual for me to leave my family’s houses with armfuls of goodies – oftentimes, leftovers from my sister’s bakery ‘research’ excursions.”
Kate is also counting the days to when she can safely enjoy live music again, a favorite when not hanging out with family. “I love how music can bring people of all walks of life together for one incredible, shared experience,” she says. “Some of my favorites are classic reggae, blues, and jam bands, but all genres speak to me in one way or another.”
As for her much-loved Memphis? Kate safely enjoys hanging out with friends, riding her bike on the Shelby Farms Greenline (while blasting classic reggae, of course), gardening, and “conducting proper epicurean research on the ever-evolving Memphis restaurant scene or reuniting with my tried-and-true favorite eateries like CK’s Coffee Shop,” she says. She and her boyfriend are also raising “a 12-year-old Pomeranian named Turtle who rules the roost and two fantastic recently adopted cats named Althea and Owsley. Turtle thinks he’s a cat, so they’ve been getting along swimmingly, she says.”
Kate is putting her degree from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, to good use, along with her professional background in fundraising, nonprofits, and health sciences. Did I mention her excitement, passion, and creativity?
She’s also super excited to work with seniors. “I lived with my grandmother, Stella Menke, while I was in high school. My grandma was the coolest lady, and all of her friends became my friends too! Some of them are donors here. It’s been wonderful recognizing so many donor names,” says Kate, who started at MJHR in March. “I’m fortunate to have had such positive exposure to seniors growing up. I want to be an advocate for them and protect them – here at MJHR and out in the community.”
“Kate joining our team has already proven to be impactful,” notes Bobby. “Her professional experience combined with her inspiring originality, warmth, and family’s remarkable Memphis history will undoubtedly enable her to be successful in this role. We’re thrilled to have her on board.”
And it’s that special family connection to Memphis that helps guide Kate. “I was looking at my family’s history here in Memphis, especially my Great-grandma Hilda Menke, and our involvement with MJHR, Temple Israel, and the B’nai B’rith Home. Hilda’s son, my Grandfather Hubert, was also very involved in the arts community and Memphis philanthropy –
his motto was, “Give where you live,” and that’s always hit home for me. I’m so grateful to be here and carry on my family’s legacy,” says Kate. “We have a 77-acre campus, so I’m brainstorming COVID-friendly events. I want to make it fun. After all, we can have both – fun, while offering the highest level of care and professionalism. We have so much life here at MJHR, and I want the community to see that.”
Interested in becoming a donor, sponsor or volunteer? Reach out to Kate at 901.756.3273 KMenke@memphisjewishhome.org.