By Katie Scott, NFTY-SoCal
Often times I hear the term “NFTY Giant” and I am immediately taken back to my freshman year Spring Kallah at Gindling Hilltop Camp sitting in SoCal’s Sunday morning friendship circle. It was the first time I had ever heard the term as it was yelled with passion “You’re my NFTY Giant!” from freshman to seniors or from seniors to advisors. It wasn’t hard to understand the unfamiliar term as every time it was spoken you could sense the overwhelming admiration directed at the “giant.” It was clear that a NFTY giant was someone who guided you, someone who inspired you, someone who really influenced your time in NFTY in a positive way.
Sitting in that circle I heard NFTYites recall how a single person drew them into NFTY and changed their NFTY experience. I started my NFTY journey because of something a little different, a simple piece of paper known as an informational flyer. Just like many of the other experiences in my life, I jumped right into NFTY without having any idea what was in store. I knew very few people but when I joined the SoCal community, I was welcomed right away. And although I met many inspirational NFTYites I wouldn’t classify them as my NFTY giants. As my years in NFTY progressed I was inspired and empowered and by many, but still no giant. In fact, for a majority of my NFTY career I don’t really believe that I had a NFTY giant. My NFTY giant is someone I only met in the past year. She’s about 9 months younger and a couple inches shorter, but to me she’s a giant.
Maddy F. has been a bigger influence in my life than I’m sure she is aware of. For those who don’t know Maddy, she was the 5772-5773 NFTY NAR SAVP. When Maddy and I first met we embraced so tightly in the Newark airport that everyone around us assumed we had known each other for years. Contrary to their belief, we had no idea who each other were apart from being regional SAVPs and knowing our predecessors were friends. But just like most relationships in NFTY, we instantly became friends. As we became closer I quickly learned that Maddy is such an inspiring and wonderful individual. Maddy has this amazing ability to laugh at herself. All the while she is the silliest person, she is also one of the most driven and passionate people I have ever met. This year, I watched Maddy take her region to new heights, challenge herself, and take a stand for things that I know I would have been afraid to do. I’ve been lucky to work with her this year and to have her as one of my close friends. She has helped me grow incredibly through my own term as SoCal SAVP by providing me with all the support I needed. Through video chats and failed attempts at professional Skype calls, she has always been the one to motivate me and remind me that we can do it. She’s been the one to cheer me up with the most random yet hilarious stories just when I need it. She has given me so much and if any of you reading this have even had the slightest interaction with Maddy, consider yourself blessed, because although it may be cliché to say, I don’t think I could have done this year without her. And to Maddy, if you end up reading this, thank you.
When I was first asked to write this blog, I had a hard time figuring out who my NFTY giant is. I was almost convinced that I didn’t have one, but after taking a trip back through my years in NFTY, I realized that a giant doesn’t have to be bigger and older than you. They don’t have to be there from the very beginning, but they are just the one who falls right into place in your life. The one who impacts you in a way that brings out the best in you. The one you look up to. But most importantly- the one you can’t imagine NFTY without.