In the early days of the COVID pandemic, volunteering across the US dropped by some 90%. However, as anyone who followed news reports knows, the needs filled by the volunteers did not diminish. If anything, they intensified.
In part to help fill the void, and in part to bring attention to the need for more volunteers, staffers at Jewish Federation in the Heart of NJ began spending time volunteering at the community organization of their choice.
Federation Executive Director, Susan Antman said, “Federation has always been about building community through volunteering. Our activities are, at their core, guided by the Talmudic wisdom that acts of human kindness are essential to tikkun olam, repair of the world. And, by extension, the welfare of our world depends on people strengthening their own communities by helping others.”
She added, “Each staffer — including me — spends the bulk of our time supporting and advocating for Jewish community needs and addressing gaps in filling the needs of our partner agencies. Now, beginning this fall, each of us will be encouraged to volunteer at the Jewish community program or organization of their choice, directly assisting service and program delivery.
“We all will start by going individually,” she explained. “But I hope, as time goes on, each of us will find some program or service that we really connect with, one that we find so fulfilling that we’ll want to share the experience with others. That way we will help replenish the pool of volunteers that are so sorely needed and feel good, too.”
She says the program serves an additional purpose: increasing Federation’s visibility in the community. “We’ll literally be on the ground, working with people who usually only see us when they are seeking grants or publicity. Now we will be going into the community, seeing needs and services first-hand, and expending additional effort to help organizations meet them.”
Susan sees this as an opportunity to strengthen the community from within. “By definition, we on staff work on behalf of the community every day. But I hope this will offer each of us the opportunity to deepen our passion for some program or service that is in addition to our usual work.”
She added, “If we do, we will strengthen our partners, the community, our bonds to them, and Federation at the same time.”
To explore volunteer opportunities, click here.