Jewish Family Service to Highlight Volunteers at Upcoming Event

Golden Lunch Bunch Purim Party. Pictured left to right: Beth Barnett, Jamie Maresca, Liat Zilberman.

“Have a great day and better tomorrows.” According to Liat Zilberman, this simple phrase has encouraged her, sustained her, and inspired her. It was uttered by her friend Mario, one of the Golden Lunch Bunch participants she befriended as a Jewish Family Service volunteer. And this month, JFS is hosting a special event in appreciation of volunteers like Zilberman. According to Pam Kelner, executive director of JFS, “Each year, over 125 people give of their time and talent to reinforce and support the efforts of our staff. The time and compassion given by volunteers enhances the lives of our clients by helping them feel less isolated and more connected to the Jewish Community.”


Jamie Maresca is the program coordinator for Helping Hands. She says, “I am incredibly grateful for our volunteers. Without them, our programs would not be possible. As the Helping Hands program coordinator, I take care of the logistics, matching volunteers with older adults in the community, ordering food for lunches, coordinating Shabbat Service leaders, but the volunteers bring the heart and soul into our programs.”


The Helping Hands programs include Jacobs Ladder that assists older adults with household tasks, the Golden Lunch Bunch, monthly Shabbat services, companion visits, and much more. Maresca says the personal benefits extend both ways. “The volunteers make personal connections with the people they serve. This benefits both the volunteer and the older adult. The volunteer is expanding his or her roots within the Jewish community, and the older adult is not only getting a necessary task completed, but they are making a social connection as well.”


Volunteering for JFS is an intergenerational opportunity.

Zilberman, for example, also volunteers as a buddy to another of the community’s seniors, and visits and calls throughout the month. She says she was already volunteering at another local organization but was also looking for opportunities within the Jewish community. “When I found JFS, I thought I could do something valuable within my community.” she says.


Those who volunteer typically say they receive much more than they give. “My favorite Helping Hands stories are the ones that start with a volunteer and older adult being matched and end with a long-lasting friendship that goes beyond the Helping Hands program,” says Maresca. Zilberman, who is from Israel, says the time spent with her new friends helps her to recharge and take a break from the normal routines of life by caring for others. “I share experiences from

my life. I can talk about Israel. We have great conversations. They feel someone is interested in them, and so do I. It’s reciprocal.”


Zilberman says another benefit is being able to show her teenage daughters the value of giving back to the Jewish community. “I talk to them about gratitude and show that even as teenagers they can have a connection.”


Dr. Beth Barnett is a retired chiropractor. She began looking for ways to get involved as a member of The Temple and found the Golden Lunch Bunch. “It’s nice to socialize and interact with people,” she says.


In fact, Barnett enjoyed her time volunteering so much, she also began leading Friday night Shabbat services once a month at Belmont Village Senior Living center. “Spiritually it’s uplifting for them and for me,” she says. Barnett brings in traditional Shabbat melodies and shares Torah commentary. “I put myself in their shoes. What would bring me peace at that time in my life.”


Barnett credits JFS staff with creating opportunities for people interested in volunteering. “They make it so easy,” she says, “Every program is so well organized and put together.” She also urges people to consider volunteering in retirement. “It’s important to know that when you stop working, you start helping the community and spread joy.”


Behind the scenes, there are many who volunteer in leadership capacities, helping Maresca and the rest of the staff manage the small but active organization. Steve Lapidus has served JFS for over 15 years in various ways, including being president of the Board. He says JFS has touched him and enriched his life because of the many services provided. “When I was asked to serve on the board, I was quick to say ‘yes.’ JFS is an organization that benefits others one hundred percent. There are plenty of roles for volunteers including time and financial support.”


The upcoming volunteer appreciation event is the first since the Covid19 pandemic. Kelner says, “We felt it was especially important to show our gratitude to the many people who stepped forward during the challenging times of Covid19. We could not be more excited to be celebrating them in-person for the first time in several years.” Maresca says, “Our volunteers made sure that the older adults felt the community around them even if they could not be a part of it physically,” she says.


The event is scheduled for August 29 at 8:30 in the JFS offices. For more information, contact Jamie Maresca at


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