Volunteers are being celebrated nationally during the month of April.
By Karen Schloss, Volunteer Coordinator
National Volunteer Week (April 15 – 21) is a great opportunity to recognize the people of all ages who generously give their time, compassion and commitment to help others in their communities. This week was established to focus attention on the power of people to create positive change. Here in Baltimore, over 320 Jewish Community Services volunteers are devoting their energy and skills in a wide variety of roles. In their own words, here’s what they’re sharing about their volunteer experiences:
Big Brother Stephen Turett: “I wanted to do something I thought might make a difference in a young person’s life — and have fun doing it. I needed something that required no special expertise or particular skill, where I could make a contribution of time and be able to share experiences, provide advice and encouragement, serve as a sounding board and be a role model. Becoming a Big Brother has been a perfect fit. How often do you get the opportunity to influence a life or help craft a spirit? It’s incredibly fulfilling to contribute to the personal growth and development of a young person and watch him mature into a more responsible and thoughtful individual.”
Mitzvah Mobility Scheduler Gigi Bormel: “After retiring, I knew that I wanted to volunteer at JCS because they had helped a member of my family. Schedulers review and organize the 100+ Mitzvah Mobility requests emailed monthly to the Volunteer mailbox by JCS social workers and service coordinators for transportation of clients to important appointments. I call many of our 49 Mitzvah Mobility volunteer drivers to schedule the 25-35 escorted drives of clients to hospitals and medical offices that they complete weekly. I love the people I work with; JCS is like a second home to me. It makes me feel good to realize that JCS clients stay independent with Mitzvah Mobility services.”
Tutor Lloyd Mailman: “A Jewish Legal Services volunteer and a retired attorney, I am enjoying my first teaching experiences as a JCS Career Services tutor. Whether it is encouraging conversation with a former Israeli paratrooper, or helping a Ukrainian born student learn that she can gain accreditation based on her early education, I am learning from the students’ life experiences. The fact that they have made progress with their English skills encourages me to continue my tutoring efforts.”
Friendly Visitor David M. Slotnick: “I heard about JCS from Rabbi Azriel, assistant Rabbi to the late Rabbi Murray Saltzman of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation. Rabbi Azriel guided me to Jewish Family Services, an organization I was already familiar with. As proprietor of Chez Chocolate, I had made several candy donations during the holidays to JFS. However, after I sold the business, I found that I had a good amount of free time and decided to volunteer as a Friendly Visitor for JFS and then continuing with JCS. My first assignment was to an elderly man with dementia. My second connection has stretched over a twenty-five year period. This client and I have spent the last twenty-two years going out for dinner at Miller’s Delicatessen, and then on to Friday night services at Baltimore Hebrew Congregation. I feel I have given him back his Jewish identity, and with it given him a reason to improve his self esteem.”
Centerpieces for Tzedakah and Shopper Volunteer Shirley Braverman: “I used to accompany a dear friend to JCS while she helped in the Business office. I started to inquire about other available volunteer activities. I helped an elderly gentleman client with grocery shopping. He couldn’t speak English and my Yiddish left much to be desired, but we managed to get through to each other. I looked forward to our weekly meetings. I think I got more out of it—he is such a brilliant man. I no longer see him on a regular basis, but speak to him through his daughter and get together occasionally for lunch. I began helping with Centerpieces for Tzedakah, which JCS rents out for special occasions, with the proceeds supporting the Jewish Community Food Fund. Now I look forward to creating centerpieces with a lovely group of women, so it is both social and gratifying to see the finished products.”
This year, JCS volunteers provided approximately 12,000 hours valued at $275,000. Our volunteers’ reasons for becoming involved may vary, but their dedication and care provide huge rewards, both for themselves and for many members of our community whom they help.
Right now, JCS especially needs Big Brothers and Big Sisters to mentor Jewish children and Special Connections volunteers to socialize with adults in our community who have special needs. If you would like to learn more about these volunteer opportunities and others, please call 410-466-9200 or visit www.jcsbaltimore.org/volunteer.
For tips about how to find the volunteer activity that is right for you, click here to read “Reaping the Rewards of Volunteering,” a blog by Katie Cohen, Outreach Coordinator, JCS Volunteer Services.
By Karen Schloss, Volunteer Coordinator, Big Brother Big Sister Matches, Volunteer Services, Jewish Community Services, Baltimore, MD
To learn more about how JCS can help you solve life’s puzzles please visit our home page or call 410-466-9200.