Volunteering: PJ Library Coordinator Carrie Fink on the program’s volunteers

What is PJ Library?
PJ Library is an international award-winning program designed to strengthen Jewish identity by sending Jewish-content books and music on a monthly basis to children from age 6 months through 12 years. PJ Library has expanded to 6 languages, 27 countries, and added a very popular grandparent program, too. In Minneapolis, we send books to 1,271 kids each month from 915 families.

At its roots, PJ Library is a book program, but it really serves as a community engagement opportunity for parents and families to build connections with other Jewish families. Locally, pre-COVID, we hosted regular events for families of all ages at JFCS and throughout the community. Examples are Shalom Baby Circle Time, Travelling Havdalah, and Good Deeds Day. In March, we quickly transitioned to virtual programming and have had success providing families with kits and supplies to have Jewish experiences in their homes.

Carrie Fink

How long have you worked with JFCS?
Two years

How are volunteers involved in PJ Library?
Our events would not happen without our amazing volunteers! We’ve had volunteers help with every facet of our events and very much let our volunteers choose how they’d like to contribute. Our volunteers welcome families as they arrive at our check-in tables, help us with set up and clean up, prepare Shalom Baby baskets for new families, serve meals, and more. Some of our PJ events are family volunteering opportunities, like our annual Good Deeds Day, where families work on hands-on projects together that benefit non-profit organizations throughout the community. We also started a volunteer-led PJ Parent Ambassador Committee last year. Our Parent Ambassadors meet quarterly and help provide strategic direction, programming support, and promote PJ Library in the community.

What is your favorite part about your job and working with volunteers?
We offer families so many different ways to engage with each other, and I love helping build those connections! This program adds so much value and meaning to families, and it’s incredible to see the passion of our volunteers in helping make that happen.

What are some things you have heard from people about their experiences volunteering with PJ Library?
Our volunteers love interacting with young families and recognize their volunteerism is contributing to families having meaningful, memorable Jewish experiences.

Anything else you want to add?
I keep hearing from parents that they are seeking meaningful volunteer/mitzvah experiences with their kids during quarantine. We have a wonderful opportunity coming up – Chanukah in August! We’re asking PJ families to help us fill the Hag Sameach warehouse, as we know needs are even greater this year. We’ve scheduled specific contactless donation times for families to donate items. We’ll be decorated for Chanukah and have some goodies for the kids as well.

>Click here for more information about Chanukah in August.

For more information about PJ Library, contact Carrie Fink, PJ Library Coordinator, at cfink@jfcsmpls.org or 952-417-2139.