From Orlando or South Africa, retired or in their 20s, volunteering for one month or for five years, JFS Orlando volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. However, all can agree on one thing: volunteering at JFS is worthwhile and meaningful.
“It just feels good!” says Harold Plessner, who’s volunteered in the Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry for over two years. Originally from South Africa, Harold grew up in the States and has lived in Florida most of his life. He started volunteering for JFS after he retired a few years ago. “Living in Orlando for seven years, we’ve always contributed to JFS because we like what they do. And then finally, when I retired, I had free time. I thought instead of just contributing, I’d physically do something.” Harold volunteers in the Pantry on Tuesdays, usually teaming up with long-time JFS volunteer, Dolores Indek.
Dolores has volunteered with JFS for over five years and works in both the Pantry and with babysitting for the Family Stabilization Program (FSP). After working for Lockheed Martin for 50 years, she is now retired and volunteers around various Jewish agencies in the community. Like Harold, she is a JFS donor and loves volunteering “because you see where all your donations and your money goes. The people come to the door, you hand them the bag. When people come in a wheelchair, or they take a bus, or they had to call a cab or ride a bike just to get here to get the food, it’s those kinds of things that really stand out.” She says she gets a great feeling from helping her community out and, as an added bonus, gets to work with friendly people while she does it. Friendly people like new volunteer, Joan Schwebel.
Although Joan has only been volunteering in the JFS Pantry for a month, she already feels connected to the agency. Like Dolores, she likes to volunteer around the community, including for volunteer organization, Hadassah. When she came to JFS to drop-off Hadassah’s end-of-year donation, she had the opportunity to speak with Cherryl Faye, JFS Volunteer Coordinator. “Cherryl said they needed volunteers and I said ‘I can do that!’ so that’s how I got started.” So far, Joan has liked working in the Pantry because “we’ve been very busy and I like being busy. I like to feel like I’m doing something. And I like interacting with the people. We’ve had a constant stream of people.” Joan has been able to see first-hand how many families the Pantry serves and how great the need is, something that former Pantry Assistant, Issy Beham, knows all too well.
Issy first came to JFS when she was 20 and in college. Looking for a nonprofit to volunteer at for a class, she found JFS and immediately knew this was where she wanted to volunteer. “JFS is so efficient and organized and everyone is super nice. It’s a great community and it’s a really well-run organization.” She loved it so much she soon became the Pantry Assistant. In this role she had the chance to see and do it all, everything from carrying 2,000 lbs. of donated Matzah to seeing the quality of food in the pantry improve. “Over these five years I’ve seen how much healthier the food has gotten. We’ve gotten some more produce, and when I started we didn’t even have a produce fridge.” Although Issy’s tenure as the Pantry Assistant ended in 2016, when she recently moved back to Orlando she decided to continue volunteering at JFS. She says there is value in volunteering here because “you see things from other people’s perspectives. Because we have so many different volunteers from so many different backgrounds. And so many clients from different backgrounds, it really challenges you to see things from other people’s perspectives.”
Thank you to Dolores, Joan, Issy, and Harold for your time and support and for adding to the diversity of backgrounds and experiences in our volunteer program. JFS truly couldn’t run without the work of amazing volunteers like you!
Want to be a part of the JFS volunteer team? Join us in fighting hunger and giving back to your community by becoming a JFS volunteer! Several types of opportunities are available, including in the pantry and office assistance. To sign up, contact us at 407-644-7593 ext. 249 or Volunteers@JFSorlando.org.