2011 Ronald and Marie Abrams Volunteer of the Year Award

Ronald and Marie Abrams Volunteer of the Year Award: Emily Podgursky

The Ronald and Marie Abrams Volunteer of the Year Award, the Jewish Community of Louisville honors an individual whose has devoted his/her life to volunteering.

[by Shiela Steinman Wallace]

Ronald and Marie Abrams created the Volunteer of the Year Award that bears their names to honor an individual whose life is defined by voluntarism, leadership and a commitment to tikkun olam – the repair of the world.

Emily Podgursky has demonstrated that commitment again and again.

There are people in our Jewish community with real needs. Some have resources so limited that buying enough food to get through the month is impossible. Others find that their health has deteriorated so far that it is difficult even to leave their homes.

For those dealing with both issues, there is help. The senior nutrition program based at the Jewish Community Center provides hot kosher lunches five days a week, and through the associated Meals on Wheels program, those lunches are delivered to those who can’t get to the Center.

The Meals on Wheels drivers are volunteers who not only bring sustenance to those in need, they provide human contact and caring.

Emily Podgursky is a stalwart volunteer for the Center’s Meals on Wheels program, delivering meals to several Shalom Tower residents four days a week. “I enjoy bringing kosher meals,” she says, “because I keep kosher, and I feel like I’m doing what I would want someone to do for me.”

For Podgursky, Congregation Adath Jeshurun is like a second home. She can be counted upon as a regular member of the minyan at Adath Jeshurun, and “on Sunday and Monday mornings, I’m the opener,” she said. “I bring bagels and open the door to the shul.”

On occasion, she is even a Torah reader. “I love to do things to support our community,” she added, “and reading from Torah is supportive.”

While Podgursky finds reading Torah a challenge, she’s always ready to spend time learning. In fact, she’s been a Melton student, too, and regularly attends Rabbi Robert Slosberg’s and Cantor David Lipp’s downtown Talmud study group.

Helping others is a regular part of everyday life for Podgursky. She often provides transportation for a friend, bringing her to the synagogue for Monday evening minyan, and giving her lifts to doctors appointments and the grocery story. She’s also a volunteer driver for Jewish Family & Career Services’ PALS program, donates blood and works at the polls on election day.

Podgursky is an active participant in the Senior Center programs and serves on the Senior Center Committee. She likes to attend monthly discussions led by Estelle Garmon, uses the library and likes to swim.

She came to Louisville with her husband in 1969, and worked as a secretary for the State of Kentucky Corrections Cabinet Department of Probation and Parole for 27 years. She retired in 2003.
Podgursky’s daughter, Rachel Spiro, lives in Skokie, IL, where she works in the admissions department of the Chicagoland Jewish High School. Podgursky also has three sisters and a brother.
She is appreciative of receiving the award.

The Ronald and Marie Abrams Volunteer of the Year Award will be presented at the JCL’s Annual Meeting, Sunday, August 14, 10 a.m.-12 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center. Officers and Board members will be elected at that time, and brunch will be served.


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