Got Free Time? Give Back and Get Back with JFCS

This is a Guest Post by Julie Carpenter, a Communications Specialist at Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis (JFCS). Julie, and her Brittany Spaniel Rascal, are frequent volunteers with the Puppy Parade.

Volunteer Your Time: With Babies like Jada.

Got free time? Probably not a lot. But if you have an hour here or there, or some regular downtime during your week, volunteering is a great way to give back and get back.
Deb Savitt, Volunteer Resources Program Manager at Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis, coordinates a wide array of volunteer experiences through JFCS and throughout the community.
“What interests you?” asks Deb. “ What sparks your creativity?” Deb can customize volunteer opportunities. If you have a group­—a book club, or a group of guys who get together to play basketball—Deb can match those interests.  “I would love to match a group having a “ladies night out” with an early evening volunteer opportunity like serving dinner at the Ronald McDonald House. Or I could match a cooking group with the St. Louis Park Emergency Program (STEP) to stock the food shelf for families in need.”
There are so many pressing needs in our community.  One-time help is needed for seniors who need assistance to age-in-place in their homes.  These volunteers, working through the JFCS Quick Fix program, help older adults with small, odd jobs such as changing light bulbs or applying transparent film over doors and windows to keep older homes warm and cozy in the winter.
Volunteers who are able to make an ongoing commitment are needed to visit older adults. This flexible opportunity allows younger people to befriend a senior and give them someone to chat with about current events, or hobbies or just play a game of checkers.
Volunteers are needed for JFCS Special Events including upcoming Seders for the Jewish Big Brother/Big Sister Program and Mental Health Support Services. “Volunteers at these events really make the day special,” says Deb. “They’re able to take the time to talk with the guests and get to know them and share the fun.”
JFCS also needs helpers for our youngest members of the community—newborn babies. Volunteers deliver baby swag via Shalom Baby gift bags filled with goodies like a book, t-shirt, blanket and lots of information about happenings for families in the Jewish community.
Pictured above is Jada, who was thrilled to receive her Shalom Baby bag from her volunteer visitor. In fact, she was so excited with her bag, she immediately took a long nap after the visit.
It’s common for our JFCS volunteers to tell us that they get more out of volunteering then they give. Last week seven volunteers brought their dogs to the Sholom Home to visit residents. These popular “Puppy Parades” are held three to four times a year and Deb frequently receives emails like this after the event:

“I would wager that we enjoyed it more than the residents. ” 

“Whatever joy the residents got out of visiting with [our dog], we got even more. Thanks for letting us be a part of this. We enjoyed every moment!”

According to the Greater Good Science Center, based at UC Berkeley, “volunteering lights up the same pleasure centers in the brain as food and sex.”
The World Volunteer Web lists their top reasons for volunteering: developing a new skill; being part of your community; enjoying a sense of achievement; boosting your career options and helping you engage with a wide range of people.
Ready to get started?  Contact Deb Savitt at [email protected] or 952-542-4859. She’ll help you find the right opportunity to light up your brain and warm your heart.