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National Volunteer Week

This week is National Volunteer Week, and although we appreciate our volunteers every day of the year, during this signature week I want to publicly thank those who personally seek out impactful ways to engage in our community for social good, and who have chosen JF&CS as a vehicle for their volunteerism.

Hundreds of volunteers provided more than 10,000 hours last year to multiple JF&CS programs, and we could not deliver the services we do without them:

In our Squirrel Hill Community Food Pantry, more than 300 volunteers help sort donations, stock shelves, unload delivery trucks, pack bags and/or deliver groceries to homebound clients, assist clients in shopping and check out and more. In 2011, SHCFP volunteers donated more than 4,000 volunteer hours to helping those struggling with food insecurity in our community.

In our immigration legal services department during 2011, 26 volunteers assisted our Board of Immigration Appeals Accredited Representatives and immigration attorneys to help foreign-born residents who couldn’t afford a private attorney with immigration-related legal matters. These 26 volunteers included attorneys, paralegals, law students and community members, and together donated 3,510 hours to tasks including helping with data processing, representing clients in complicated asylum claims and teaching citizenship preparedness classes.

In our refugee services department, where staff is responsible for resettling refugees in our community-from welcoming them at the airport and taking them to their new apartments that our staff have procured and provisioned to providing the intensive case management, employment and translation support they need to successfully resettle in our Pittsburgh community-more than 100 volunteers donated in excess of 1,000 volunteer hours, providing weekly in-home visits to help new arrivals with learning English, understanding their mail and bill-paying, helping refugee children with homework and so much more.

In addition, each year hundreds more volunteer hours are donated by a number of organizations that devote social action hours to helping our refugees. From Shady Side Academy’s student organization, Untucked, whose 2011 annual concert benefited our refugees to Congregation Dor Hadash which has established a comprehensive year-long program to support our work-running clothing, furniture and food drives; providing volunteers to organize outings for refugee teens; and helping families to adapt through home safety and maintenance training, English tutoring and other in-home support.

I have to make special note of one extraordinary JF&CS volunteer, Barbara Rosenberg. Barbara has been volunteering in our elder care department for more than 20 years, providing thousands and thousands of volunteer hours helping clients get the in-home care they need. In fact, Barbara spends so much time helping to administer our Caregiver Connection, that many JF&CS employees are surprised to find out that she’s not a paid staff member!

And no acknowledgement of JF&CS volunteers would be complete without a tremendous thank you to our board of directors. Under the leadership of Board Chair Joel M. Rosenthal, CPA, CVA, our 25 board members donate countless hours to providing financial oversight, monitoring and strengthening programs and services and more.

As a non-profit human service agency, JF&CS provides a wide range of services to more than 8,000 community members each year. Some may be able to pay for services or utilize services covered by a specific grant or insurance (e.g., mental health counseling). Some may have no means whatsoever. But everyone has one thing in common: they are all struggling with an overwhelming lifecycle transition or challenge and they’ve turned to us for help.

And we, in turn, rely on the generosity of our community: on our funding partners, on our donors and on our precious volunteers.

Thank you to those of you who have chosen us as vehicle through which you can make a difference.  For you truly do, we couldn’t possibly touch and improve as many lives as we do without your partnership.