[Archived from June 5, 2009]
[by Shiela Steinman Wallace]
When Jewish Family & Career Services held its 101st Annual Meeting on Tuesday, May 26, it was a joyous celebration of volunteers and recognition of staff that left everyone in the room excited about the agency and looking forward to another successful year.
While JFCS President Jay Klempner described volunteers as the agency’s greatest asset and expressed gratitude for the vast number of people who volunteer with JFCS, it was really Volunteer Coordinator Shelley Kahn who set the tone for the rest of the meeting.
Volunteers are the cornerstone of the agency, Kahn stated. More than 300-strong, they make it seem like JFCS has more staff than it does. “This agency could not accomplish what it does without your help and dedication,” she said.
Kahn then turned the podium over to Janet Meyer, whom she introduced as a high energy, dedicated cheerleader for JFCS who has brought many new volunteers to the agency.
Meyer is a relative newcomer to JFCS’ volunteer corps, beginning her affiliation with the agency with the 100th anniversary celebration event, Bookapalooza. Plans originally called for a book sale, but with a lot of hard work by many volunteers, it exploded into a 14,000-book extravaganza at the old Eliahu Academy building.
Over 100 volunteers made the event a success, and, at its conclusion, many asked when they would be able to help again. “JFCS,” Meyer said, “has given me the opportunity to share my passion, enthusiasm and love. I feel blessed to have introduced JFCS to so many people.”
Since Bookapalooza, Meyer has been devoting her energies to the JFCS Food Pantry. She told everyone to get ready for an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast to benefit the Food Pantry coming up on August 9.
With so many dedicated volunteers, it is difficult to single out a few for special recognition, but that evening, JFCS chose to honor five individuals for their outstanding contributions to the agency.
Sharon Ran and Joani Sonnheim have been running the Hanukkah Helpers program for 20 years. Year after year, they have ensured that Jewish children whose families can’t afford extras have Chanukah gifts and warm clothing. Last winter, due to their efforts, 44 children were cared for. After 20 years, these two women are retiring, and JFCS is looking for new volunteers to run the program.
Debbie Friedman wears many hats at JFCS, from Board member and committee member to candy maker. One of her most significant activities, however, is as a P.A.L.S. (Passport Around Louisville Service) driver. P.A.L.S. volunteers take people, mostly seniors, who cannot drive to doctors’ appointments and on other errands. Friedman drives “every week and twice on Tuesdays,” according to Kahn, often spending a couple hours helping others. She has built relationships with her clients, and now many of them request her when they call for rides.
The P.A.L.S. program is a tremendous asset to the community, but it takes a great deal of effort to coordinate it. At 83, Annalee Jaffe is at JFCS every week making sure all the P.A.L.S. requests are scheduled properly and that both clients and volunteer drivers have all the information they need and are ready to go. Jaffe even does the computer data entry for the program.
Mutzie Friedman, also 83, if JFCS’ “Girl Friday.” For more than three years now, she has been coming in every Friday to help JFCS’ staff wherever she is needed. She can be found working in the Food Pantry, helping with family mitzvah projects, filing, shredding, handling phone calls, processing time sheets and much more.
“This has made my golden years more golden,” Friedman said.
Each year since 1993, JFCS also recognizes the best new or expanded program the agency offers and honors the staff person who created it with the Mary Gunther Award. This year, Aly Goldberg presented the Gunther Award to John Baker for the YES (Youth Educational Services) program, which helped 29 at-risk students at Atherton High and the Presbyterian Community Center. This program was funded by Louisville Metro Government.
Jay Klempner’s president’s report was equally upbeat. While the problems with the economy have meant that JFCS has had more clients seeking their services and more clients in need of financial assistance, the agency has been able to meet the challenges due to the dedicated staff, volunteers and involved Board.
JFCS has been proactive, flexible and focused, he said. By planning ahead and being fiscally responsible, the agency has been able to maintain its services. He also acknowledged the support of The Jewish Community of Louisville and Metro United Way.
“We are committed to our mission,” Klempner said, “and to providing the best services in the community.” He also stressed the importance of collaborating with other agencies.
He challenged all those present to help JFCS be as successful in the coming year as the agency was the past year. “You made it happen,” he said.
JFCS Executive Director Judy Freundlich Tiell took a few minutes to highlight a couple of JFCS’ programs and services. On Sunday, June 14, JFCS is starting a bazaar outside their building that will be a combination farmers’ market and artisan fair featuring “the goods made by many of our refugee and immigrant micro-entrepreneurs.”
JFCS offers a confidential help line “for Jews who are concerned about addiction,” she continued, and provides “education, resources and, most of all, hope.”
The agency is helping those who have lost their jobs, too. They held a Job-a-thon to collect job leads and offer a wide range of services for those who need employment help.
More than 8,000 people used JFCS’ services last year, she pointed out.
John Baker and Jenny Hughes were each recognized for five years of service to JFCS.
Klempner also made brief presentations to Bob Tiell, director of Career Services, for 40 years of service to JFCS, and Judy Freundlich Tiell for 30 years.
Officers and Board members for the coming year were elected.
Jay Klempner will serve as president; Mark Ament, president-elect; Debbie Friedman, Sandi Friedson and Reed Weinberg, vice presidents; Hunt Schuster, treasurer; Barbara Goldberg, immediate past president; and Lowell D. Katz and Marty Margulis as at-large members.
Bonnie Bizer, Doug Roemer, William Ryan and Beth Salamon were elected to three-year terms on the Board; and Stephanie Mutchnick and Brian Segal were re-elected to three-year terms. Alyson Goldberg and Bernard Sweet retired from the Board.
Barbara Goldberg chaired the Nominating Committee, and its members were Mark Ament, Lance Gilbert, Debbie Friedman, Sandi Friedson, Jay Klempner and Reed Weinberg.