Volunteer Spotlight November 2023: Ann Rubin

Can you tell us about yourself and your background?

I’m a wife, sister, daughter, aunt, caregiver, friend, and community member. I cared for my mom during her 10-year adventure with Alzheimer’s disease, until her passing in 2021. I’ve worked as an executive assistant for the last 20 years. In the past, I’ve had jobs managing volunteer programs in a hospice and an affordable housing program.

In my free time, I like to hike, volunteer, read novels, hunt for bargains at thrift shops, visit historical sites, and bake delicious treats to share with others. I moved to Minneapolis in 2001 (from west Michigan, where I grew up) and I love having access to so many parks and green spaces. The Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden is one of my favorite places in the Twin Cities.

What JFCS programs have you volunteered with?

Currently, I’m a Memory Café volunteer. In the past, I have delivered packets for the Caregiver Conference, stuffed swag bags for events, assisted with conference set up, and made cards for the Cards for Community program to be sent to JFCS clients. 

What does your current volunteer role entail?

My role at Memory Café is to ensure participants feel welcomed and have what they need for an excellent experience. Working in collaboration with Lindsay Kant (one of the Senior Services Case Managers) and my fellow volunteers, I arrive early to arrange the space and set out refreshments. I greet participants in the lobby or at the conference room door. I assist with coats and nametags.

During the café, I participate in the activity while also watching for and meeting needs as they arise. That could be getting a cup of coffee, helping someone remember where the restroom is, providing assistance and encouragement, or giving extra TLC to someone having a difficult time. After the activity, I assist with snacks and enjoy conversation with folks. Being a Memory Café volunteer means meeting people where they are at, and being present with them in the moments we are together. I like to think of the café as a safe harbor. I look for ways to make everyone feel seen and cared about.

What motivated you to begin volunteering with JFCS and how long have you been volunteering with us?

My first volunteer activity was in April 2021. After attending the “Keeping the Spirit Alive” Caregiver Conferences in person in 2017 and 2019, I signed up to attend the 2021 virtual conference. After registering, I learned there was a need for volunteers to deliver conference materials to the homes of Twin Cities’ attendees. I was eager to find ways to plug back into community after so many months of COVID isolation, so I happily raised my hand to do that. My wife drove while I navigated and we dropped off bags on front porches. That was followed up with a phone call letting folks know the delivery had been made and thanking them for registering. It was a fun job! After that, I started receiving JFCS’ quarterly volunteer newsletter from Dana Shapiro (Community & Volunteer Engagement Manager) and I learned about the many other volunteer jobs available.

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

Ann, with her father, at the 2023 Walk to End Alzheimer’s event in Grand Rapids, Mich.

My favorite part about volunteering with JFCS is how well-run the volunteer offerings are. The leadership makes it easy and convenient to learn about opportunities, the responsibilities and time commitments are clear and detailed, and the sign-up process is simple. Appreciation for volunteers is varied and abundant and communication is timely and friendly. All of this makes it a pleasure to be a JFCS volunteer! 

My volunteer work has positively impacted my life in a number of ways. One huge benefit has been the people I’ve met and now call friends! Giving back to my community feels good and provides me with a sense of purpose. Staying connected to the world of caregivers/memory loss is a way to honor my mom’s memory, while encouraging others on their path. I am proud to call myself a JFCS volunteer because the organization is well-respected and inclusive.

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

While welcoming participants to Memory Café, I greeted one of our regular attendees by saying “Welcome! I am so glad you are here today!” She peered into my eyes with a look of slight concern and said, “Do you know me?” I smiled and said “I do know you – we are singing buddies!” Her face brightened, she returned my smile, and she replied “Ahhh. It is good to be known!” It was a poignant reminder that we all share the same human need – to be seen and to be known.

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

Volunteering is a win-win – you help others and the world *and* you get the good feelings that come from giving back! JFCS has so many ways for volunteers to plug in that you’re sure to find a role that fits your talents and schedule. Everyone I’ve interacted with at the organization has been warm, friendly, and welcoming. If you choose to join the ranks of JFCS volunteers, you’ll be appreciated. Your skills will be put to good use. Your time will be well spent. You’ll be joining a well-run volunteer program, led by folks who value your contributions and your input. If you’re thinking of volunteering with JFCS, I say “DO IT!”

Anything else to share?

Thank you for the opportunity to share my story. Thank you for the opportunity to be a JFCS volunteer!

JFCS Memory Café is a gathering for people with memory loss and their caregivers. Café members meet twice per month at the JFCS office in Golden Valley for activities and conversation in a comfortable, supportive environment. Café is open to people from the Jewish and broader community. To learn more about JFCS Memory Café, click here.

For more information about volunteering with JFCS, click here or contact Dana Shapiro, Community & Volunteer Engagement Manager at dshapiro@jfcsmpls.org.

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