We’d like to introduce Rena Federova, JFS volunteer and leader of a new grant-funded program.
About nine months ago, Rena came to JFS seeking a volunteer opportunity. She wanted to put her family background and education to use. Rena is a student at the University of Minnesota majoring in political science and minoring in Jewish studies with a very full schedule and two part time jobs.
After meeting with Volunteer Engagement Specialist Margie Solomon, it was determined that Rena was the perfect volunteer to interview and write the stories of JFS clients who are Holocaust survivors. She speaks fluent Russian and Ukrainian, and has a personal connection with Holocaust survivors.
Rena was born in New York City and lived there until she was 10 when her parents moved the family back to the Ukraine to be closer to her father’s family. At 17, Rena decided she wanted to return to the U.S. Her parents agreed to allow her to move thousands of miles away if she could find a boarding school that would offer her a scholarship. What would deter many 17-year-old’s only inspired Rena. Through her own research, she found a small boarding school in northwest Minnesota which was a big change of pace for her.
Rena has developed many very special friendships with the survivors she has interviewed through her JFS volunteer work. “The last survivor I interviewed offered me tea and cake afterwards. I stayed an extra hour, recorder off, just talking and laughing and forming a real connection beyond formal interview,” said Rena.
Through a grant from the Jewish Federations of North America, Rena will work with JFS to develop and offer activities and programs designed to decrease loneliness and isolation for survivors by building community through social activities within the buildings where they live.