Houston Strong with JVC

When Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, I felt blessed to be unaffected. Little did I know that I would be very affected, yet in the most positive and fulfilling ways.

Harvey hit just a few months into my term as chair of Jewish Volunteer Connection (JVC). Since I had not been involved in JVC’s prior efforts to assist after natural disasters, I was impressed with how quickly The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore and JVC determined that our hands were needed in Houston. Almost immediately, JVC was planning logistics for a four-day service trip with Houston’s Federation and Nechama: The Jewish Response to Disaster.

Our diverse group of 15 included 13 volunteers led by JVC’s incomparable Erica Bloom and Abigail Malischostak. Ranging in ages from 20s to early-50s, we had varying degrees of service experience, levels of religious observance and motivations for participating. We, however, shared a common passion to help—let’s put on our gloves and goggles and get it done! Click here to read entire article.

Karen Singer’s “ah-ha” Moment Came Unexpectedly

Karen Singer never anticipated that her “aha” moment– the instant that she realized what she wanted to tackle during her next phase in life – would come to her in a flash the day she found herself dressed head to toe in pink, rolling around the floor with a group of young girls.

It all began with a princess party that Karen had organized with Susan Maneken, as part of a volunteer project for The Associated’s Chapter Two program. The “princesses” were young girls invited by the Jewish Caring Network, whose family members might be battling significant illnesses, and The Rubin Institute for Advanced Orthopedics at Sinai Hospital, who might be suffering from intense pain. As Karen engaged with them, hugged them and laughed with them, she realized what was missing from her life.

“Over the years, I had served on boards and solicited funds,” says Karen. “Yet I realized then that what I wanted was to add hands-on volunteering to my civic life. Thankfully, for me, The Associated took notice.”

Karen was asked to join the board of Jewish Volunteer Connection and co-chair JVC’s Adult Volunteer Engagement Committee with Susan. Concurrently, as she turned 50 and was about to become an empty nester, she turned her passion into action, launching “Something Good,” a weekend hands-on volunteer initiative that became a JVC VolunTeam. The group of individuals would do “something good” on a monthly basis, with Karen planning about 15 activities each year.

Since its inception, “Something Good” has grown to a team of 470 volunteers. They’ve gathered for “Brunch with a Purpose” at Karen’s home to make polar fleece blankets for the patients of Kennedy Krieger Institute and dialysis patients, served meals to the homeless and assisted the elderly, making their homes ready for spring, to name a few. And this year, Karen undertook her latest success, “Shopping for Something Good,” conceived during her Passover visit to Pittsburgh. When walking with her sister, the two ended up in a consignment shop.

“I remember standing there and thinking about the clothes in my closet and how I could sell them to benefit charity,” she recalls. “So, I thought, why not collect new and gently-used men’s and women’s clothing, accessories, shoes and housewares, invite people over to shop and raise money for a good cause.” Click to read entire article.