National Volunteer Month in the United States takes place in the month of April. This month is dedicated to honoring all of the volunteers in our communities as well as encouraging volunteerism. Volunteers help their neighbors, support local organizations, and provide their expertise. No matter what kind of volunteer work they do, they are contributing in many invaluable ways.
Independent Sector, with the Do Good Institute, announced that the latest national value of a volunteer hour is $28.54. Using data from AmeriCorps on volunteer hours, volunteers typically contribute nearly $200 billion to our communities.
As a small social service agency, Jewish Family Service relies on an extensive network of volunteers to help execute programs and services so clients can maintain their quality of life. While last year presented challenges to operating in a traditional way, volunteers rose to the challenge, with a collective 2,300 hours of donated time. With rising need from the community, these volunteer hours helped JFS to safely and creatively expand opportunities to support those who needed a little extra help.
The ShareCare driving program helps people to maintain their independence. In 2021, volunteer drivers provided 350 trips, totaling over 3,800 traveled miles, by taking older adults to doctor appointments, community events, grocery stores, and beauty salons.
A team of three dozen volunteers are needed to enable the Community Food Pantry to provide food for 120 households per year. These individuals have shown up week after week to unload and stock the shelves with 70,000 pounds of food, pack the groceries into boxes, pick up donations from local community partners like Giant and Wegmans, provide translation services, and hand out groceries to clients.
“I am proud to be part of a team of volunteers that are improving the lives of community members with compassion,” said Casey Goldblatt, Food Pantry volunteer.
The prepared meal program, Mazel Meals, is thriving because of the volunteer delivery drivers who travel to Easton, Bethlehem, Allentown, Macungie, and Wescosville each month. Twelve dedicated drivers dropped off over 1,045 meals in 2021, wishing recipients a “Shabbat Shalom” and bringing a little cheer.
JFS currently has 90 volunteers supporting the agency. This month, we recognize these remarkable individuals who continue to help us carry out our mission and vision that “no one in our community should suffer hunger, isolation, emotional or physical distress, or lack of community support and caring.” For the first time in two years, we are able to gather together to celebrate this collective group of caring and giving people. A volunteer appreciation event will be held at Jay’s Local in Allentown in recognition of all who have given their time so generously.
Are you looking to give back to your community by volunteering at JFS? Contact Jennifer Oxfeld at firstname.lastname@example.org.