Posted by JF&CS

A collage of Family Table volunteers.

Each year, the Simone Lottor Exceptional Service Award honors a volunteer who has demonstrated extraordinary commitment to JF&CS and those we serve. This year, the Lottor Award Committee voted to honor all of our 1,000+ Family Table volunteers!

“Since the start of the pandemic, our Family Table volunteers have gone above and beyond to ensure that our clients receive the groceries they need,” said Ava Harder, Manager of Volunteer Services at JF&CS. “The Lottor Committee wanted to recognize the incredible commitment this group of volunteers has shown, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.”

Heroism During the Pandemic

When the outbreak began in Massachusetts, our Family Table volunteers adapted quickly to new public health precautions, wearing masks and packing grocery orders outdoors. And as Family Table expanded its services with a new emergency delivery program, our volunteers stepped up again to bring food to more than 200 additional families in need from March through August.An outdoor distribution at Family Table.
“When the pandemic hit and Family Table sent out requests for help, I was fortunate to be in a position to respond,” said Allison Schnipper, who has volunteered with Family Table for many years. “In a time that is scary and stressful, helping to put food on the table for hundreds of people in need is a tangible way to make a difference.”

Howie Sholkin, another long-time volunteer, has helped unload food from The Greater Boston Food Bank and has been a regular driver for our emergency delivery program. “I really enjoy serving clients and getting to know volunteers and JF&CS staff,” said Howie. “It’s such an important organization.”

These seasoned volunteers have been joined by many new faces during the current crisis. “I was feeling the need to get involved in something that provided assistance during such a difficult and uncertain time,” said Marissa Zwelling, who began volunteering early on in the pandemic. While helping out at Family Table, Marissa said she would sometimes become so focused on the task at hand that she would briefly forget about COVID-19. “It’s true what the research says about those who engage in volunteerism,” said Marissa. “You feel better emotionally, physically, and psychologically.”

Finding New Ways to Make a Difference

Baila Janock has been a dedicated volunteer at our food pantry for 15 years but had to suspend her onsite work because of temporary COVID restrictions on in-person volunteering for those over the age of 70 (these restrictions were lifted on September 8). Fortunately, she has been able to support Family Table by making monthly reminder phone calls to clients. She particularly enjoys calling the clients she used to see in-person each month. “Staying connected with these amazing people has given me back more than I could possibly bring to them,” said Baila.

This year’s Simone Lottor Award honors currently active volunteers, as well as those who had to take a pause due to the pandemic. We have heard from many volunteers who told us they look forward to returning to Family Table when it is safe to do so. “Thank you for recognizing those of us who have been unable to participate recently,” said Sandy Goldsmith. “I miss everyone at JF&CS!”

We are so grateful for each and every person who has given their time, effort, and dedication to Family Table. “When times are tough, we always know that we can count on our volunteers,” said Bernice Behar, Director of Family Table. “They are the heart and soul of Family Table!”

Learn more about volunteering with Family Table.