JFS has a long history of compassionate individuals practicing “Tikkun Olam” (repairing the world), through their dedicated service to the Richmond community. The Ladies Benevolent Hebrew Association in 1849 was the first incarnation of JFS, and was made up of Jewish women dedicated to bettering their community through selfless acts of service. The impact of their work was felt throughout the community, whether it was helping orphans find homes after the devastation of the Civil War, providing families with food during the toughest years of The Great Depression, or aiding in the resettlement of Jewish-Russian émigrés in the 1990’s.
Today, JFS’ staff and volunteers apply the same generous and giving approach in their own work. Our volunteer program is targeted towards some of the neediest in our community, particularly aging individuals who may have become isolated from family or friends. Illness, depression, grief or a dip in financial standing, can increase feelings of loneliness for anyone, particularly an aging individual. Our Friendly Visitors and Telephone Reassurance volunteers help fill that void in people’s lives by providing a friendly voice to greet them in the morning, or someone to sit and share stories with in the afternoon. The program is especially unique in the deep friendships that develop between our volunteers and those utilizing the service. Last year our volunteers provided over 4900 hours of service to their community, truly something to be proud of!
April is National Volunteer Month—a great time to find the perfect volunteer opportunity. JFS’ Volunteer Resource Supervisor, Sheryl Luebke, shares with us the importance of our volunteer programs, and what makes them so great!
- What is your work/volunteer background prior to JFS?
I’ve been a volunteer administrator for 15 years, off and on. I also have been a human resources manager for a law firm and a nonprofit agency.
- What do you like about working at JFS?
The people are very committed to their clients. It’s a medium-sized organization which allows you to get to know a lot of your fellow staff members.
- How do JFS volunteers impact the lives of others?
The Telephone Reassurance Callers and Friendly Visitors offer security and socialization to people isolated due to mental or physical challenges or age. They often realize needs (for example, transportation, food supply, medical attention, house repair) that we can offer from JFS, or direct them to community resources of which they were unaware. Assisted living residents feel they are part of a community when we are able to gather Jewish residents in a facility several times a year for holiday celebrations. These activities make people feel they are still part of the world and are not invisible.
- Why is it important to volunteer?
It is the rent we pay for living on this world. It is a way of becoming part of society. It helps isolated people feel like they are part of the human race.
- What are good resources for finding volunteer opportunities in Richmond?
Hands on Greater Richmond (http://www.handsonrva.org/)
Volunteer Match (http://www.volunteermatch.org/bymsa/m6760/c/opp1.html)
Interested in volunteering at JFS? Fill out our volunteer application at http://jfsrichmond.org/volunteer/volunteer-application/ or email Sheryl at email@example.com