By Deb Silverthorn
Special to the TJP
The volunteers of Jewish Family Service live the message of tikkun olam, repairing the world, every day, making a difference for thousands in the community whom they might never meet.
From 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 19 at Temple Shalom, JFS’ 1,200 volunteers will be honored for their hearts, commitment and the 19,920 hours they served in 2016.
“Throughout my more than 23 years with JFS, volunteers have been an invaluable source of energy, productivity, creativity and guidance and the message of the Volunteer Appreciation event is one that applies throughout the year,” said Michael Fleisher, JFS chief executive officer. “Whether on the board, as part of an agency committee, doing hands-on work in the pantry, delivering meals, managing the Job Search Resource Center, or providing pro-bono expertise, the respect they convey to clients, community members and staff and their specific efforts has helped make JFS a very special place to receive services, work, and make a difference in the lives of individuals, families and our Greater Dallas community.”
JFS’ vast volunteer corps will be honored with kudos to those celebrating service anniversaries:
Five years: Martin Baron, Esther Cohen, Annette Corman, Debbie Freed, Viola Gold, Andi Budman Hakes, Lane Henkin, Max Jaffe, Martin Kahn, Nancy Kariel, Michael Kratze, Paul and Joan Salzberger, Linda Sheff, Frances Steinberg, Sheryl Walsh and Hulya Yukler
10 years: Lynne Baron, Jill Cohn, Leslie Dworkin, Charley and Helen Feldman, Eileen Franklin, Paula Kerber, Melissa Ackerman, Olivia Baskin, Elise Greenberg, Roberta Lazarus, and Harold Kleinman
15 years: Gil Bruneman, Yvonne Riesman and Don Wolman
20 years: Jane Daboub, Bonnie Grossfeld, Marilyn Levin and Marlene Rapport
“Our volunteers … are also a community of all ages and (service) a vast spectrum of need. And (they) make a difference,” said Weezie Margolis. Margolis, her co-chair Sue Mintz and committee members Kimberly Chapman and Jay Szor joined award nominating committee members Janis Gail, Mike Kratze, Susie Litman, Jeri Lyn Sebert, and Ethel Zale to ensure a special afternoon.
“This committed volunteer base, with our incredible professional staff, is a blessing,” Margolis said.
In addition to the anniversary honors, the Feb. 19 event will provide special awards.
“I knew immediately that this was a perfect project for me,” said rookie volunteer honoree Laura Meisel. “I am able to utilize my conversational Spanish frequently with our clientele, which seems to facilitate their shopping experience and increase their comfort level.”
A friend who volunteered in the JFS Food Pantry invited Meisel to accompany her and that introduction turned into a special connection. Bringing initiative to her volunteer role, Meisel approached Snap Kitchen, which provides healthy prepared meals and other food items. Her request that they consider donating unsold and about-to-expire foods, rather than throwing them away, resulted in their coordinating pickups of donated healthy, prepared meals, salads and juices three times a week in accordance with JFS’ three Food Pantry distribution days at the Food Pantry. “It’s very rewarding to know that we are able to provide to our families — which range from one family member to 10-plus family members — a balanced meal, toiletries and other items that are donated by generous individuals. My colleagues and I often receive heartfelt thanks from our shoppers, who are very appreciative of the time we spend with them.”
Volunteer opportunities include the Rabbi Gerald J. Klein Internship for high school students and those on 61 pages of the Mitzvah Central listing, for b’nai mitzvah projects, family time or individual service, and school-required service hours of groups and programs throughout the community needing one-time or long-running support. At JFS, direct volunteerism opportunities include clerical and administrative assistance, Food Pantry, holidays and special events such as assembling and delivering holiday baskets, and activities around Kaboomtown, Corporate Sports Challenge and the Woman-to-Woman Luncheon.
In addition, volunteers make The Resale Shop possible by organizing donations, stocking shelves, assisting customers and organizing community donation drives, the Special Needs Partnership’s Inclusion Experience and Be a Buddy programs and support at community education events. They help Older Adult Services by packing and delivering kosher meals, visiting seniors and providing personal resource organizers, and assisting clients with grocery shopping and transportation.
Getting kids involved
Volunteers at JFS begin sometimes as they learn to walk, l’dor v’dor with grandparents and parents toting young ones along on Meals On Wheels routes and more.
For Kids with Heart honoree Alisabella Ackerman, it is the Food Pantry that allows her to meet one-on-one with those she is helping, learning their stories and understanding that her imprint can be lasting.
“It’s the hands-on work where you know and see how you are affecting someone that is so meaningful. Not to feel sorry for anyone, but to try to understand, to see what it means for someone to work hard, to provide for a family, and to maybe need a lending hand or other support,” said Ackerman, who at only 14 years old has years of community service at the Legacy at Willow Bend, and, through JFS, on her record. “I don’t know if a person can really appreciate what they have without helping others … every bit of help builds character and there isn’t any time that I’ve spent at JFS that hasn’t somehow touched me.”
Ackerman, while a high school student, speaks beyond her years and for the many who, like her, touch and are touched with each volunteer fingerprint pressed on our community.
For more information about volunteering, or to RSVP for the Volunteer Appreciation Event, email JFS Community Engagement Coordinator Jamie Denison at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 972-437-9950.
In addition to the anniversary honors, the Feb. 19 event will provide the following special awards:
JFS Leadership Award Gilian Baron
JFS Outstanding Volunteer Julie Liberman
Spirit of JFS Beverly Goldman
JFS Spotlight Awards Ted Tobolowsky and Irv Munn
Pro Bono Award
Goods: Leather Sofa Co. and Ann Gross
Services: David Schlottman and Jonathan Vinson
JFS Resource Development Award Sharon Martin and Louis Zweig
JFS Social Justice Award Tammi Kollinger
Kids with Heart Tanner Kopel, Derian Svec and Alisabella Ackerman
Rookie(s) of the Year David Hughes and Laura Meisel
Special Recognition Tim Golman (z’l), Bradley Rossel, Jane Daboub
and Mike Kratze
JFS Community Partner of the Year Kroger
Seniors In Service Nora Silverfield, Gloria Young, Allen Laner
TEAM Award Woman to Woman Luncheon Event Co-Chairs
Linda Garner, Caryn Kboudi, Kim Chapman,
Esther Weitzman Meyers, Kimberly Ross