National Volunteer Week was an opportunity to honor our 725 volunteers who stepped up during the past year
By Dana Shapiro • Community and Volunteer Engagement Coordinator & Intake Counselor
National Volunteer Week took place in April and we celebrated and recognized our 725 volunteers for all they do in a number of ways. We posted daily videos on JFCS’ Facebook page to highlight different volunteers, which can still be viewed by clicking on the link. JFCS staff reached out to our volunteers to thank them for their support during the past year. We also held a virtual volunteer appreciation happy hour on April 27 for the second year in a row, as a way to connect with our volunteers in an intimate setting, thank them for their many contributions to JFCS, and provide some updates and reflection on our work in the community.
This year’s celebration included Golden Valley Mayor Shep Harris. He joined us to thank our volunteers for all they have done for the community and provided some reflections on the past year. Check out this video to hear his remarks.
We are lucky to have so many wonderful volunteers of all ages who support our programs throughout the year in both one-time and ongoing opportunities. As you can imagine, there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes throughout the year to make these volunteer opportunities possible. JFCS has a group of 20+ staff who meet with me regularly as we discuss topics relating to our volunteers. This is a group of passionate individuals who works tirelessly to support our volunteers and help make them feel valued in our community.
Because of the support and dedication from our volunteers in the past year:
· We have been able to safely deliver items to those participating in virtual events put on by JFCS programs throughout the year.
· More than 100 clients have received cards in the mail through Cards for the Community, a volunteer opportunity that was created during COVID-19 as a way for volunteers to send a nice note to those in our community who may be feeling extra isolated during this time. These cards continue to come in, beautifully decorated. You can see some examples of these in the volunteer newsletters and in Jill Kaufman’s volunteer video that was recently posted to our Facebook page during National Volunteer Week.
· The Jewish Youth Mentoring Program is able to connect volunteer mentors with Jewish youth to promote positive social-emotional-spiritual development and increase their engagement in the Jewish community.
· Seniors in our community feel more connected to others through the Outreach Visitor and Telephone Reassurance volunteer offerings – and they can get rides to medical appointments and errands, as well as deliveries from PRISM’s food shelf, provided by friendly volunteer drivers.
· Our staff feel supported in our day-to-day work as different needs arise.
· 331 individuals were recently provided with food and ritual items to celebrate Passover through the Hag Sameach Program, and 1,030 individuals received gifts to help them celebrate the winter holidays. The number of winter holiday recipients increased more than 300 since 2019!
I could go on and on with examples, but these are just a handful of the many ways that JFCS volunteers have positively impacted the work we do and community we serve.
I continue to be overwhelmed by the response we get from those reaching out to help. During a difficult year that has challenged us all, our volunteers leaned in and generously gave us their time, talent, and treasure. We couldn’t do what we do without our volunteers’ support, so we thank the 725 volunteers who contributed to JFCS in 2020.
We are looking forward to honoring longtime volunteers Alan Ingber and Jory Herman at the upcoming JFCS 111th Annual Meeting on Wednesday, June 9, as we recognize them for their many contributions to JFCS over the years. Hope you can join us!