Most of the time it’s the big life-changing gestures we remember, but truly it’s the behind-the-scenes helping hand that makes it all possible. The same can be said about the JFS babysitting team.
The Family Stabilization Program (FSP) is a long-term case-management program that requires individuals to attend several educational workshops on Tuesday afternoons. Although the workshops are vital in helping participants get back on their feet, many of these clients are single parents who cannot attend without childcare. That’s why JFS began a volunteer babysitting team to watch FSP children while their parents attend workshops.
“I am providing a service for families so they are able to improve their lives. It is one less item they need to think about or stress over,” says volunteer, Wendi Szafran. Wendi has called Orlando home for most of her life. While earning her Masters in Social Work at UCF, she volunteers at various agencies around town, including JFS. She says she began volunteering on the babysitting team back in 2017 because “I was becoming much more involved in the community. I wanted to volunteer with children in different ways.” One particular moment that stood out to Wendi was when a young girl she was taking care of wanted to return to her to continue learning kids yoga instead of staying at home. “That was a heartening moment.”
Another FSP babysitting volunteer is Dolores Indek, who also volunteers in the Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry. Dolores helps out with childcare once a month or when needed. After working for Lockheed Martin for 50 years, she is now retired and volunteers around various Jewish agencies in the community. She particularly likes volunteering at JFS because of the “great feeling you get when you come here. And everyone is friendly. You feel like you’re really helping the community out. I wish the community knew what a wonderful job they do here.”
Similarly, volunteer Ashley Urquhart chose to volunteer with JFS because she wanted to help out her community and do something good. “I started volunteering about a year ago,” says Ashley. “I wanted to do something more productive with my time.” Born and raised in Florida, Ashley works full-time and enjoys hanging out with friends and staying active. She heard about JFS and thought it would be a great opportunity to give back. She loves working with the kids and coming up with fun activities for them to do. “A year ago, around Easter, I brought in Easter eggs to decorate with stickers and markers. It’s a good activity. I really liked it.” Not only does she enjoy the work she is doing, but she has connected with her team. “Everyone here is really friendly, really nice. The other volunteers I work with, they welcomed me right in, and we have our own little email chain going on. It’s a great way to give back and everyone here is super nice. It’s a great place to be.”
Thank you Wendi, Dolores, and Ashley for taking care of our FSP children and, in turn, giving their parents the chance to learn, grow, and get back on their feet. Your help is truly vital to their success!
Want to be a part of the JFS volunteer team? Join us and give back to your local community. Several types of opportunities are available, including pantry and office assistance. To sign up, contact us at 407-644-7593 ext. 249 or Volunteers@JFSorlando.org.