Posted by Jon Federman
“Everyone has something to offer and it shouldn’t go to waste,” says Dvora Pemstein, Coordinator of Volunteer Services at JF&CS. “People contact me when they want to give back to their community, but they don’t know how. My job is to match these people with something meaningful.”
The Volunteer Services department is often the first point of contact for many at JF&CS. Its primary role is to recruit and screen new volunteers and oversee the process for managing volunteers throughout the agency. Volunteer Services collaborates with staff to address the specific needs of clients and programs and also to create new volunteer opportunities. It is the external face of the agency to other community organizations, universities, and synagogues. The staff attends community service fairs, provides information for synagogue mitzvah nights, and works with universities to place students who want to volunteer or who are looking to fulfill course requirements with nonprofit work.
“People might be at a crossroads. They might want to volunteer after a life-changing event, such as the death of a spouse or upon becoming an empty-nester,” Dvora adds. Part of her job is to get to know people, determine their skill set, and make use of those skills in a creative way. She also likes to just listen and pull out what’s important from the rich tapestry of stories she hears. A mother with grown children might make a great volunteer for the Visiting Moms program. A high school senior could enjoy visiting the elderly or packing groceries at JF&CS Family Table. A lawyer could help provide free legal assistance in the Bet Tzedek Legal Services program. If there isn’t an appropriate match here, Dvora will refer volunteers to other agencies so they can at least feel good that JF&CS is able to help in some way.
Dvora’s social work background – she has an MSW from Yeshiva University – has helped her achieve a deep understanding of the programs offered by JF&CS, as well as the day-to-day experiences of the staff. She even started at JF&CS as a volunteer herself. JF&CS depends on the dedication and support of more than 2,700 volunteers, some of whom have been with the agency for decades, and all of whom have helped JF&CS have a greater impact on the community and those in need. Some volunteers help once a week, while others help once a month or even once a year. No matter what the time commitment, every volunteer’s contribution is essential to the success of JF&CS.
“I’m so proud of where I work and I’m always amazed at how many times a day I meet people who want to help someone else,” Dvora adds. “It’s like a mitzvah every day.”
Jon Federman is the JF&CS Staff Writer. A practicing attorney for more than 15 years, he is thrilled to bring his legal and persuasive writing skills to the JF&CS Marketing Communications department. Jon has a BA from Tufts University and a JD from Boston College Law School. In his spare time he is an exhibiting photographer and an award-winning cartoonist. Jon lived in London, England for five years before returning to Boston in 2011.