Volunteer Spotlight August 2022: Bill Gershan

Bill Gershan

Can you tell us about yourself and your background?

I am a retired physician, a pediatric pulmonologist, who most recently worked at the University of Minnesota from 2014–2022. I originally grew up in Wisconsin. I am married and have two grown children.

What motivated you to begin volunteering with JFCS?

I was interested in spending time with someone a bit older than I was.

What JFCS programs do you volunteer with and how long have you been volunteering with the agency?

I have regular visits with an elderly member of the community and have been doing this for approximately six or seven years now. Being an outreach visitor has given me a window into the life of an amazing individual who has led a rich life and has allowed me to share some of those moments. Many of our past visits have involved walks and meals, which provided a framework for our interactions.

Bill and Eric during one of their recent visits

Eric has gotten to know my wife and I have gotten to know some members of his family, including his cat, Casey. A highlight was attending Eric’s 90th birthday party. The pandemic has presented some challenges to our communication, but we have been able to work around them and stay in touch. Most recently, we have added Facebook video chats to our repertoire, which allows us to see each other if we cannot meet in-person.

What’s your favorite part about volunteering with JFCS and how has it impacted your life?

I think it’s good to volunteer and I really have enjoyed my friendship with Eric over the years. Overall, this has reinforced for me the power of social connections no matter what your age or station in life.

Do you have a memorable story about your JFCS volunteer experience to share?

Eric and I have gone to the Minnesota Astronomical Society and observed the stars, planets and moon from large telescopes on a few occasions. These were great experiences for both of us.

What would you say to someone who’s thinking of volunteering with JFCS?

I would suggest doing it. You have nothing to lose other than a little bit of time, and chances are you will very much enjoy it!

We are in need of more Outreach Visitors. If you are interested in becoming an Outreach Visitor for an older adult, contact Dana Shapiro, Community & Volunteer Engagement Manager at dshapiro@jfcsmpls.org. You can also click here for more information on volunteering with JFCS and fill out an application.