JF&CS Volunteer News Spring 2011

Students Help Seniors Celebrate Holidays

Observing holidays with family and friends makes them even more joyful and memorable. But for many elderly Jews in Greater Boston who are isolated and alone, the holidays can be a sad time.

Happily, the elderly clients of the Jewish Healing Connections Friendly Visitor Program celebrate the holidays together as a community at JF&CS Headquarters in Waltham, connecting with each other and with the next generation.

Last year, they were joined by a very special group of volunteers from Boston College Law. They are members of the BC Jewish Law Student Association, a social group that meets two or three times a month for events, speakers, outings, and to observe Jewish holidays.

Despite their incredibly busy and demanding schedules, the student volunteers join elderly clients at Passover seders and Chanukah parties to listen, tell stories, sing songs, and share a meal. And the seniors love them for it.

Third year law student Matt Meltzer said, "Most of us, if we have our grandparents around, don't have much time to spend with them. Volunteering is a welcome opportunity to get out of the law school setting and connect with the larger Jewish community. It was very rewarding to be where your presence brings a smile."

The volunteers arrive early to help with last minute set up, welcome guests, and accompany them from the front door to their seats. They make sure everyone is comfortable before sitting down for spirited conversations, ranging from the weather, to law school, to heated political discussions.

"We are so pleased that the BC Law students have been volunteering in our Friendly Visitor holiday programs. Their enthusiasm and interest in the elders brings a lovely energy and reminds us how important intergenerational programs are in creating bonds across the generations," said Marjorie Sokoll, MEd, director of Jewish Healing Connections.

Because they have volunteered at a few events, seniors and students are building relationships. The participants enjoy connecting with these bright, solicitous, entertaining students and are looking forward to seeing them at this year's Passover seder.

"We couldn't run programs without volunteers. The law students are energetic and willing to do whatever needs to be done to make the elders comfortable, happy, and welcome. The students engage with our guests in a way that helps the elders feel connected with the younger Jewish community and the world around them. We are delighted that the elders can tell the stories of their own Jewish experiences to this younger generation who are, in turn, inspired by their words," said Sue Spielman, MPA, program coordinator of the Friendly Visitor Program.

The sixth annual Friendly Visitor seder for elderly clients of JF&CS will be on April 17, 2011 from 12:00 to 2:00 p.m. at JF&CS headquarters in Waltham.

The Passover and Hanukkah celebrations have been made possible by the generosity of the George and Beatrice Sherman Family Charitable Trust.

For more information, call 781-647-JFCS (5327) or email your questions via our contact us page.