Mitzvot from the Heart: Jessica Sachs

Jessica Sachs | Congregation Shaare Emeth

What started as a Mommy and Me ballet class at age 2 turned into a passion for Jessica, daughter of Susie and Jonathan Sachs of Ladue. Dance means the world to Jessica: She spends six to seven days a week in dance training at COCA. Her favorites are ballet, pointe and jazz.

For her mitzvah project, Jessica took her enthusiasm to COCA to help support the Discovery Young Artist (DYA) Program as a volunteer.

DYA is a highly selective arts training program that focuses on providing opportunities and growth to students in fourth through eighth grades. To be eligible, students must demonstrate an interest and talent in their art form, as well as financial need. 

They receive financial assistance as well as dancewear, shoes and any other materials necessary for them to succeed in their ballet and jazz classes. In between dance classes DYA students spend time in the Homeroom, a dedicated space that provides healthy snacks, tutors from Washington University to assist with homework, and lessons on dance history and legendary artists.  


As a volunteer in the Homeroom, Jessica worked with the younger students to help them adjust to the rigorous expectations of being a dancer at COCA.

“I helped Aeran Bates, Homeroom coordinator, with whatever was needed,” Jessica said. “I cleaned, organized and helped all of the dancers with their troubles on homework and dance.”

She folded and separated dancewear COCA provides to the students. She also made lunches and dinners for those that didn’t get to eat after school or simply could not afford to.

“Jessica served as a mentor to these students and helped the COCA staff and DYA coordinator with numerous tasks, including laundry of dancewear for the students and van transportation scheduling, all to make their COCA experience positive,” said Pam Mandelker, COCA’s director of advancement. “COCA appreciates Jessica’s caring commitment to her fellow students and the example she set for them as well.”

Jessica, a student at Ladue Middle School, said this particular project meant a lot because of her involvement with COCA. 

“I wanted to help all the future COCA dancers have all the experiences that I am so fortunate to have every day,” she said.