Terry Willner Answers Why She is Involved with Jewish Volunteer Connection

Monday, July 1, 2019

What do you enjoy the most about volunteering? 

I really enjoy meeting the people I’m serving as well as the people I’m volunteering with.  It’s always wonderful having the time to get to know why others are volunteering, sharing life stories.  It becomes a much more personal mission.

How did you get involved with JVC?

I took part in The Associated’s Chapter Two program through which I was introduced to all the programs and agencies under the Associated’s umbrella.  JVC appealed to me because the needs are so diverse and it’s so easy to become involved.   There’s a beginning and end to most projects.. which is a wonderful way to start volunteering.

What do you want people to know about volunteering?

It is so easy to take just a little time out of your day to give back to the community.  And it can and should be doing something you’re interested in.  There are enough volunteer needs that you can do something you feel really good about in the end.  And not only will you feel good,  but the client or recipient will feel good as well.

What’s the most impactful thing you’ve ever done as a volunteer?

A few years ago, I volunteered with my family on Mitzvah Day.  We were packing the Winter Survival bags at the JCC and they needed drivers to take the bags down to Our Daily Bread so I volunteered to deliver them with my kids.  I wanted them to see the full circle of our volunteer effort…not just stuffing the bags, but delivering and then handing them out to the recipients.  It was important to get a little bit out of our comfort zone in order to make a huge impact in the lives of the recipients…if just for that one moment.

Can you tell us about a time that you benefited from the help of others, whether they were traditional “volunteers” or not? 

I have truly benefited from the advice and experience of Karen Singer, JVC Board’s immediate past chair.  She has taught me, pushed me out of my comfort zone and has shown me that as busy as we think we might be, there is always time to give back.

How Aaron Martin Gives Back with Jewish Volunteer Connection

Monday, April 16, 2018

April 23-27 is National Volunteer Week, and we have a host of volunteers to celebrate! Meet Aaron, a member of Jewish Volunteer Connection’s board who conquered the Casserole Challenge and strongly values tzedakah in his everyday life.

You’re on the JVC board. Why did you decide to join? I became active in JVC through [a] VolunTeam [volunteer groups with flexible scheduling for projects]. I saw how JVC successfully engaged with the community’s existing desire to volunteer and help others … I am also very drawn to how JVC fosters Jewish community as it brings people together – across the spectrum of Judaism – with a common goal to do good.

How would you describe the impact that JVC makes in our community? On the recipient side, JVC’s impact is almost immeasurable. JVC is truly involved in hundreds of direct and indirect service projects every year that impact individuals from all over Greater Baltimore.

Yet, the impact on volunteers is greater than the thousands of acts of kindness they generate. JVC fosters a community culture of giving that is a Jewish value held in high esteem. JVC is also an outlet and tool for parents who value giving to teach and show their children the value hands on. Giving monetarily is great, but not an easy thing to involve children in a way that they learn it.

Tell me about an experience you’ve had volunteering with JVC that has moved you.About 2 months ago in a meeting with the JVC leadership, I remarked that I wish I could get my son’s school involved in JVC. I thought that, if my son sees his Rebbe engaged in giving, it will have a strong impact on him. Karen Singer, chair of the board, challenged me to listen to the passion in my voice and go for it despite any uncertainty that I had. I’m so happy she did! Right before Pesach, the Kosher Meals on Wheels program included almost 100 grape juice bottles and cards drawn and personalized by the school’s first graders in its deliveries. [The program] generated a lot of discussion about who the recipients are, which is such an important part of being a giver – being able to see who are the people out there and their needs.

I hear you participated in JVC’s recent Casserole Challenge. How was that? When I first heard of the Casserole Challenge, I thought it was not for me; however, I signed up to collect casseroles for an hour, thinking, sure, I can spare that hour. As the collection date came closer, I started to feel funny that I would be showing up empty-handed. I had this moment of, Oh, a lasagna is a casserole. I can do that! I proceeded to make two cheese lasagnas to bring with me. I shared my epiphany moment at the next board meeting and now I’ve jokingly become the lasagna man. It’s great how just being involved with JVC allows me to continually challenge myself to go out of my comfort zone.

Why do you choose to give back? I can’t say I’ve ever made the decision to give back – it’s something I always assumed. In Yeshiva, I learned the value and obligation of tzedakah and had strong role models around me who meticulously gave ten percent of their earnings to charity. Growing up, I watched my mother, who was a teacher, have neighbors’ kids over who needed help with homework. She also would spend hours and hours on the phone before each summer as the volunteer administrator of a local camp scholarship fund. A few years ago, I made the decision that giving money was not enough and to focus on more active giving. I believe we are obligated to give because there are needs to be met but also because, through giving, we grow spiritually. For me, volunteering is a more potent growth tool and I’m fortunate to be able to do both.

Read older stories about JVC volunteers by clicking here

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