JFS Volunteer Appreciation Night, Feb. 9
Photo: Courtesy Jewish Family Servicer 
Ina Gartenberg will be honored Feb. 9, 2023, as one of JFS’ Hearts and Hands Volunteer awardees.

972 volunteers, 20,000+ hours logged in 2022

By Deb Silverthorn

On Thursday, Feb. 9, 6:30-8:30 p.m., Jewish Family Service (JFS) will celebrate the 972 volunteers who, in 2022, shared more than 20,000 hours of hands-on and hearts all-in. The event will take place at the IMA Financial Group office in North Dallas. A Taste of the World will provide sweets for the free event, which is open to the public.

“Our volunteers are critical to the work of our agency. Each year, our clients are directly impacted by the kindness and support of each volunteer they interact with,” said Cathy Barker, JFS president and CEO. “Their work reinforces and supports the efforts of our staff and this community to help others when and how they need it most. We could not be more excited to be celebrating them in-person for the first time in three years.”

Receiving the awards are Merle Gallant and Nina Goodman (Outstanding Volunteers); Nicole Post (Leadership); Sylvan Rothschild (Newcomer); Carole and Joram Wolanow, Bobbie Repp and Annalee Zweig and Joe and Susan Schackman (Dynamic Duos); Robbyn Lewin, Jack Atkin, Ina Gartenberg, Laura Papageorge and Janice Scott (Hearts and Hands); and Santander Consumer USA (Community Partner Award).

“I love the hands-on work and being face-to-face with our clients. I’m grateful for the Spanish I learned as a child because I use it with maybe 80% of those I help shop. Every day is rewarding,” said Carole Wolanow. Years ago she worked in JFS’ The Retail Shop, and she now volunteers three to four days a week in JFS’ Food Pantry.

Wolanow’s husband, Joram, was inspired by his wife’s experience. After retiring last summer, he started working in the Food Pantry, helping clients register and providing intake support.

“It’s wonderful and I love it. It’s so fulfilling and truly I feel like I’m doing something for humanity,” he says.

For Nicole Post, the connections of the last three years, of people providing help however they could despite the pandemic, have been meaningful.

“Lives have been changed. For the people we help but for every one of us who shows up. I really do treasure the time I’m volunteering no matter what the task. I want my children to see and learn my passion for giving and the only way to do that is to live it,” she said.

Individuals have always been a huge part of the JFS volunteer corps, and so are the organizations and corporations who make JFS’ mission part of their own. In August, 37 members of Santander Consumer USA’s Dallas offices spent more than 100 hours helping in all facets of JFS’ Food Pantry.

“Volunteerism is hugely important to Santander Consumer via the pride we develop by serving others, the opportunities for leadership and the bonds of teamwork and compassion that are established as we come together for a wonderful purpose,” said Suzanne Massey, vice president, Santander Consumer USA Foundation and CSR/Community Partnerships, Santander Consumer USA.

She added, “We want to continue to support and uplift the good work of the team at JFS and to continue to build our relationship with this impactful organization.”

Hundreds of volunteer opportunities can be found on JFS’ website by logging in or by scouring the agency’s “Mitzvah Central,” a listing that is updated throughout the year. In 1998, Barbara Schwarz first coordinated the registry — a role she is still responsible for 25 years later.

“Our Volunteer Appreciation event is our way to say thank you to our volunteers for all they’ve done in gifting us with their most precious resource — time,” said Michelle Squillace, JFS’ volunteer engagement manager.

In a year that saw JFS volunteers return slowly but surely to more hands-on opportunities, Eric Goldberg, JFS board chair, was thrilled to see more people in the building, each person critical to the success of the agency.

He explained that JFS saw more clients during the height of the pandemic than ever before, adding, “While we couldn’t have volunteers in-house, the need never diminished.

“Jewish values, human values. The tenet of tikkun olam, of bettering the world, is what drives me and that I certainly learned from parents and grandparents,” said Goldberg. He first became involved with JFS in 2012, serving on the Rabbi Gerald J. Klein High School Internship committee.

Rabbi Klein, of blessed memory, was Goldberg’s grandfather and the lessons he shared of sharing time, energy and resources to others were never lost.

“JFS exemplifies the values of my family before me, and I know going forth as well. JFS is where so many families leave their fingerprints on our community,” said Goldberg. “L’dor v’dor.”

To RSVP, visit tinyurl.com/
JFS-2023-Volunteer-Awards. For information about volunteering through Jewish Family Service, visit tinyurl.com/JFS-Mitzvah-Central, jfsdallas.volunteerhub.com or email msquillace@jfsdallas.org.

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