JFS Blog

People Need People

By Ruth Edelman, MSW

What ingredients create meaningful life experiences? For some, it is the expression of caring for another, for a “neighbor in need.” JFS of Somerset, Hunterdon and Warren Counties has found the recipe and celebrates the outcome. Referrals from professionals as well as family members, friends, identify someone with a need that JFS can address. A social worker follows up to understand how the family or senior view their needs, and what resources might help them with their challenges. While for some the answer might be a clinically trained professional providing therapeutic interventions, or an experienced case manager who can intervene to address emergency as well as evolving needs, many times, the answer is what a volunteer can give.

As we have all become more isolated during this pandemic, the need increases for isolated seniors in our Senior Friendly Visitor and Senior Grocery Shopper Programs to know that there is someone who not only cares, but calls, drops off groceries, sends a birthday greeting, makes an afghan, plants a flower, listens…. the list goes on. One volunteer has been helping by scheduling vaccines for those who don’t know how to use on- line technology. One senior, celebrating his 100th birthday, said about his friendly visitor, “Joe Fass is my best brother. He’s there to talk about everything—sports, the weather, family.” Families in our Family Mentor Program have been helped with tutoring kids getting virtual schooling, helping parents think through how they can juggle work and parenting, how they advocate for their child with academic, emotional or physical challenges. Our Senior Grocery Shopper, matches low income seniors referred by the Somerset County Office on Aging, for practical assistance with planning a shopping list, purchasing and delivering groceries (paid for by the senior). “She has been a godsend, a true angel,” commented one senior recipient.

A crucial ingredient to success are the volunteers. They are people of all ages and backgrounds who are willing to give, not only their time, but of themselves. It’s not so much about what they DO, its about what they bring through a relationship that communicates “I care about you.” That is so often missing from the lives of those whom we serve. And, like the leavening in a cake, without it, there is no “lift.” Remarked one of our new volunteers “I was drawn to JFS because their activities are rooted within the local community and thus have a direct impact on our neighbors.”

And then, there is the format. This is what JFS provides through structured programs that train and support volunteers in their work, make assessments and determinations of the “fit” between a volunteer and their interests, geographic area, and a client’s background and needs. It’s what makes a difference.

We recently celebrated volunteers who have been with us for 10, 8, 5, and 3 or more years, as well as all who joined during a pandemic. With nearly 100 unique volunteers a year providing service, we continue to add new volunteers and hope that you will want to be part of the recipe for meaningful service to the community. As the song goes “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world.” For more information about JFS and volunteer opportunities contact us at 908-725-7799 or admin@jewishfamilysvc.org.