Volunteer Voices – Iris Pressman

What do you do with JVC?

I am a VolunTeam Leader for Bookworms at Milbrook Elementary School.

What is your favorite volunteer experience or moment?

I enjoy engaging with the students that I read to, hearing the questions they ask and the comments they make.

How did you get involved with JVC?

I have been volunteering with The Associated for many years. After I retired from teaching, I wanted to participate in a program that involved children.

What is something new that you learned as a volunteer?

As a volunteer, it is amazing how joyful you feel after spending time with the people ( in my case, kids) that you interact with.

What advice would you give to other JVC volunteers? What would you tell someone who may be nervous to commit or is new to volunteering?

Volunteering is simple. You find something that you enjoy doing and that also helps others. The beauty of volunteering is that you can do as little as you want or as much as you want. You can do it on a regular basis or do it when you have the time to do it. In other words, it is flexible and whatever you do, it is appreciated.

If you’re affiliated with other groups or institutions, please share who/where/what (synagogue, school, camp, community organizations, etc.).

· I volunteer with Weekend Backpacks – many Baltimore City Public School students suffer from food insecurity, lacking sufficient funds to provide them with food when school is not in session. We provide child-friendly, nutritious food directly to children in need over the weekends. Each backpack contains enough food to feed three to four people for the weekend. I volunteer there packing the food once a week.

· I mentor an Israeli student through a program called Israel Connect to improve his/her English proficiency and to increase his/her access to higher education. We meet once a week via zoom for an hour. I have been doing this for about 5 years.

· Before COVID, I volunteered at Levindale Hebrew and Geriatric Center. I “played” trivia with the patients every week.

· Before COVID, I was involved with the Baltimore Symphony Associates. It was an organization that supported the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. We provided funds for most of the children’s programs: Orch Kids, Youth Orchestra, Children’s mid week concert for school students, etc.

· For many years I was on the board of the Jewish Big Brother Sister League. Susan Kurlander (staff member) and I created and ran a program called Special Connections. We matched developmentally delayed adults with teenagers. We met once a month during the school year. We provided a program and dinner each month. Unfortunately, that program is not longer running.

· I was PTA president for Beth Tfiloh Hebrew School while my daughter was a student there.

· Because I now live in Florida for half of the year, I also volunteer there. I volunteer at Historic Spanish Point once a week. Currently I help with a program called Seeing the Invisible. Visitors need to use their cell phones or tablets to view this program and I help them with the technology aspect of the program. I also volunteer as a Beach Ambassador at Siesta Key Beach. The volunteers help visitors with answering questions about the area and giving out information about activities that they might enjoy. I volunteer there once a week.

What was/is your favorite pandemic hobby?

I played a lot of Mah Jongg and Canasta online during the pandemic.

If you were a potato, what kind or form of potato would you be, Ex/ French fry, latka?

I think I would like to be a baked potato, firm on the outside but soft on the inside.

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