Leading by Doing: Eileen & Paul Meshekow
When it comes to allocating discretionary income, we are often forced to choose from an endless list of competing priorities. For Eileen and Paul Meshekow, those priorities have always included dedicating funds to tzdeakah. Their driving impulse, Eileen says, is a simple yet profound realization: “If we don’t give back, who’s going to do it?”
To direct their philanthropy, the Meshekows partnered with the Jewish Community Foundation to strengthen high-impact nonprofits across Southern California. In this interview, they discuss their lifelong commitment to charitable giving and their focus on empowering the next generation to carry the torch.
Their driving impulse, Eileen says, is a simple yet profound realization: “If we don’t give back, who’s going to do it?”
Some couples travel the world to find each other; Eileen and Paul only had to traverse a few city blocks. Though they didn’t know each other as children, both were raised in LA’s Beverlywood neighborhood in families that emphasized supporting the larger community. “My parents were wealthy, but there was this feeling that we were part of something larger and that we needed to contribute to helping others,” Eileen says. “Whenever they could, they gave.”
As a young married couple, Eileen and Paul followed suit. “We had very little financially, but we didn’t allow that to stop us,” Paul says. “My father died of cancer, and for years we teamed up with our siblings and cousins to solicit donations for an annual boutique that we would run out of our house, with proceeds going to City of Hope. It really brought our family closer together.”
Leading by Doing
Raising their two children and building a successful insurance brokerage kept Eileen and Paul busy, but they made time to involve themselves in charitable endeavors. Both were active in The Jewish Federation’s Valley Alliance, with Paul serving on the board and Eileen, an amateur stone carver, serving as an art booster and educator, arranging Federation tours of art venues in Los Angeles. A past president of the Southern California Golf Association, Paul also chaired The Federation’s golf tournament multiple times, while Eileen actively shaped the Meshekows’ family philanthropy. “Whatever money we had to spare would go to Jewish institutions, to groups focused on making advances in medical research, and to higher education,” Eileen says.
An Example to Follow
In 2013, they decided to retire, selling their business and using some of the proceeds to open a Donor Advised Fund at The Foundation. “We were thinking that, down the line, we might want to donate appreciated stock, and the Donor Advised Fund makes it easy,” Paul says. They were also looking for a simple and straightforward way for their son, Jason, and daughter, Allison, to continue the family’s philanthropic legacy. “The Foundation can walk them through everything they need to know, so it’s a good vehicle for the future,” Paul says.
Happily married for more than 55 years and counting, today Eileen and Paul spend their time traveling and doting on their four grandchildren. Their partnership with The Foundation gives them confidence and peace of mind as they enjoy their golden years.
“We’ve attended many Foundation events, and it feels so good to be part of such a wonderful organization,” Eileen says. “You know, you hope the example you set as parents will trickle down to the generation that comes after you. By having our Donor Advised Fund at The Foundation, we know we’ll have done everything possible to make that happen.”
This article was featured in The Foundation’s Spring 2023 Legacy magazine.