Finding the Way to Meaningful Work: An interview with Ava M.A. Harder, Manager, Volunteer Services
Q: How did you find your way to this role?
A: Before having children, I worked (and stressed!) in the for-profit world. After the birth of my first child, I participated in a JF&CS New Parents Group. It was such an important part of my baby’s first year and my first year as a mom—we still have close friends from that group! I always wanted to find my way to what I considered more meaningful work, and when a friend at JF&CS told me about a position at the agency, I knew I had to “go for it!” That was five and a half years ago, and I have loved being a part of an organization whose work touches the lives of so many people in such powerful ways.
Q: What is it about volunteering with JF&CS that makes it so appealing?
A: JF&CS offers a uniquely broad array of opportunities to touch the hearts and lives of our neighbors. Whether you are delivering groceries with Family Table, celebrating Shabbat with CHAI Residential, dancing or singing with Okonow Parkinson’s Family Support, caring for a new family with our Lauren & Mark Rubin Visiting Moms program, touching the heart of a Holocaust Survivor as a Friendly Visitor or a caring card- or scarf-maker, helping a domestic abuse survivor get back on her/his feet, sharing art with participants in JF&CS Memory Café, Café Hakalah and so much more… you are 100% changing lives across the community.
Q: How would you describe JF&CS volunteers?
A: Caring, compassionate, creative, fun, dedicated, positive, eager, enthusiastic, wonderful!!!
Q: What have you missed over the past year?
A: Professionally, I have missed seeing my colleagues in the office. I miss hearing the buzz of co-workers surrounding me. I miss the off-handed brainstorming that comes from working near one another. I also miss coordinating on-site group volunteering with day schools and corporations and universities. And most of all I miss seeing our wonderful volunteers live and in person.
On a personal level, I miss hugs. I miss going to services at my synagogue and seeing and hugging my friends. And going out for dinner. And coffee shops… I miss grabbing a latte at a coffee shop. And my parents in Arizona. I cannot wait until I can hop on a plane to see them again. So many things to look forward to!