JFS honors volunteers with appreciation brunch

by | Jul 12, 2012 | Other News

Patty Shelanski and Norene Spencer.

Patty Shelanski and Norene Spencer.

With more than 6,000 collective hours of volunteer service in 2011 under their caps, one would think they’d look tired. But this was not the case for the Jewish Family Service volunteers attending the agency’s Volunteer Appreciation Brunch on June 27. They were energetic, lively and enthusiastic.

In keeping with the theme “Planting Seeds of Kindness,” Rabbi Susan Tendler of Congregation Beth El gave opening remarks by reading the book Butterflies Under Our Hats by Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, a book about hope. Rabbi Tendler remarked that JFS volunteers give hope through their acts of love and kindness to those the agency serves.

The volunteers and JFS staff enjoyed a buffet lunch and were serenaded by accordion player Sid Sward.

Alla Gean, case manager for New Americans, recognized the New American volunteers and thanked them for their service to the agency.

Patty Shelanski, volunteer coordinator, said, “Volunteers assist in countless ways at JFS—Meals on Wheels delivery, telephone assurance, grocery shopping, holiday outreach, friendly visits, keeping our two JFS food pantries stocked, knitting items for our clients, transporting clients on errands, helping with the Baskets of Hope program, and working in the Personal Affairs Management office. Every job is important, and JFS couldn’t provide these services without your help.”

Shelanski lauded the volunteers for all they do for the agency. Last year, the JFS Knitters Club completed 140 lap blankets, and more than 100 hats, scarves and mittens. JFS generally delivers more than 75 gift bags to Jewish residents in non-Jewish facilities for each major holiday. And for Rosh Hashanah and Passover, JFS delivers an additional 60 to 70 meals to home bound Jews. JFS Friendly Visitors develop relationships with the clients they visit and talk to—and these relationships become very special over time. To the client, JFS volunteers may be the only visitor they have, and often times these volunteers add to their quality of life. The Personal Affairs Management office benefits from the dedicated service of the volunteers who write checks, file, prepare income tax returns, and offer their professional accounting services. The Baskets of Hope program offers a creative outlet for volunteers who gather to make beautiful center pieces for bar and bat mitzvahs and other special events.

Shelanski concluded, “Our volunteers exemplify the ideals of Jewish Family Service. They are the backbone of the agency.”

Shelanski then recognized the Max Japha Volunteer of the Year in honor of outstanding volunteer commitment to JFS. This year’s award winner was Norene Spencer.

“JFS is so lucky to have Norene among its ranks of volunteers,” said Shelanski. After years of working in a law firm, and for USAA, Spencer was thrilled to able to take early retirement. Shortly after, she joined JFS as one of the agency’s most dedicated volunteers. “She was one of the first knitters to kick off the Knitting Club,” said Shelanski, “and she shares her smile, and handiwork, every Wednesday.”

Spencer also works in the JFS Personal Affairs Management office as a filing clerk, check writer, and income tax organizer. She is drawn to Jewish charities and volunteered for Beth Sholom Village for more than 15 years. Now she enjoys volunteering for JFS, and giving back to the Jewish community that is a part of her heritage.

Spencer is also active with the Baskets of Hope program. Sue Graves, who coordinates the Baskets of Hope program, said, “Norene has been a valuable asset to the program. I can always count on her to help out with whatever needs to be done.”