By Lisa Katz

Family TableI have a deeply rooted passion for working at Jewish Family & Children's Service Family Table as Volunteer and Food Coordinator because when I first walked in these doors, I needed the help.

Three years ago my husband and I each faced unemployment and we were struggling to climb out of debt. On top of that we barely could afford to keep kosher but because it is so important to us, we found a way, which often meant turning to others for help and meals. We felt embarrassed, stressed, and completely alone in our situation.

The JF&CS website walked me through all of the services offered and my heart sprang with hope. I contacted the Center for Family Assistance and applied for a Hebrew Free Loan for a looming tuition bill. We were connected with other services, including Family Table, which brought us such relief. Receiving a gift of monthly groceries was amazing. We especially appreciated being able to have Shabbat meals in our own home again since we were getting challah, kosher chicken, fresh produce, and many other items. As the Family Table Marketplace pantry started, I tried that and really enjoyed being able to come in and pick out my own groceries. However, after I had a baby it was difficult to travel and come in to Marketplace so I missed several months. Thankfully, the Family Table Case Manager reached out to me and made sure we had the support we needed and arranged for us to receive deliveries.

In addition to everything else, when I became pregnant, JF&CS staff encouraged me to sign up for the Lauren and Mark Rubin Visiting Moms® program. It was wonderful having an understanding mom who could come each week to my home to talk and listen, especially since my parents live far away. My son is 20 months old now and I still think back fondly to her visits.

JF&CS case managers worked together extremely well to make sure that my family received all the relevant services we needed. We were so fortunate to have found JF&CS.

When I heard about a job position opening at Family Table, which exactly fit my background as I had been a Volunteer Coordinator at Cambridge Family & Children's Service, I eagerly applied. When I learned about how Family Table actually operates, I was completely impressed. As a client I had no idea so many other families were being served. I couldn't believe the complexity of this program and how it can successfully serve more than 400 client households through a network of public and private funding, and food donations from 69 area synagogues and schools.

My experience as a client helps me train volunteers, educate the community, and serve clients better. I want to make sure both clients and volunteers have as smooth and positive of an experience as I had. JF&CS has made a tremendous impact on my life and I am so glad I have the chance to pass on what I have gained to others in need.

Lisa KatzLisa Katz is the Volunteer and Food Coordinator for Family Table, the largest kosher food pantry serving Greater Boston and the North Shore. She joined JF&CS one year ago after having worked as Children and Family Services Coordinator at The Second Step, a domestic violence program, and Volunteer and Mentor Coordinator at Cambridge Family & Children's Service. She also worked in Jewish communal service in religious schools, Jewish camps, and as Program Coordinator at MIT Hillel. Lisa is excited to bring together her passion for supporting clients, volunteers, and the Jewish community. Lisa also enjoys dancing around the kitchen with her toddler.