COVID-19 Virus Update

(as of Monday, March 16, 2020 11:35 AM)

Please note: JFS Orlando is CLOSED to the public starting Monday, March 16, 2020 and will reopen on Monday, March 30, 2020.

The Volunteer program is cancelled until Monday, March 30, 2020.

Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteers are the heart and soul of our agency. Being a volunteer is a gift you give to others and yourself!

Dedicated volunteers provide food to hungry families and individuals, provide supervision to children whose parents attend our educational workshops, plan and organize fundraising events and so much more! We have many opportunities for volunteers.

  • B’nai Mitzvah Projects for Students

Interested in becoming a volunteer?

If you are interested in applying to become a volunteer, please visit our Volunteer Match page or fill out a Volunteer Application. Applications can be submitted electronically to Volunteers@JFSorlando.org, mailed in, or dropped off at The George & Madeline Wolly Center 2100 Lee Rd. Winter Park, FL 32789. Please address applications to the attention of the Volunteer Department. 

Once we have received your application, we will send you an invitation through “Verified Volunteers” to complete a level 1 background screening (for volunteers 18 years of age or older). Please note: We ask all volunteers to consider a donation of $15 to help offset the cost of this background check.

For more information, please contact Volunteers@JFSorlando.org or 407-644-7593 ext. 249.

ONLINE COURSES

The following courses are administered by a separate company, not by JFS Orlando staff. A portion of the proceeds through the course fees are donated to JFS Orlando.

First Time Driver

Mature Driver

Parenting

Volunteer Spotlights

Volunteer Spotlight: The Wheeler Family

The Wheeler Family poses during an afternoon of “family-time volunteering” in JFS Orlando’s Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry.

Volunteering is a family affair for the Wheeler Family. “It’s a group thing, all of us going and giving our time,” says Tim Wheeler. “We want to allocate time to help others.” It’s a great way for all of them, Tim, Corally, Elizabeth (age 17), and Lincoln (age 4), to spend time together. “It’s been a seasonal thing for us, but we’ve really dialed in regularly since this past fall. My wife Corally has actually been volunteering on and off for about ten years.” “We started volunteering together since about when Lincoln was born,” says Corally. “So about four years ago.”

Not only has volunteering in JFS Orlando’s Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry been a great way to get quality family time or a way for Elizabeth to get volunteer hours for the Bright Future Scholarship, but it’s been a way for the Wheelers to step out of their comfort zone and help their neighbors in need. “It’s an opportunity to help people in the community more than anything else,” says Tim. “A lot of people that come in are in tough circumstances. You can see it. And they are really appreciative for what they’re being given. This is an opportunity for us to connect with the community. It’s our time and our penance to try to help others out in the area. That’s how we look at it.”

The Wheelers have also enjoyed volunteering with JFS because of the flexibility. “It’s non-committal, you’re not locked into a specific schedule,” says Tim. “Scheduling volunteering with JFS has always been flexible. There are some other volunteer outlets that want more commitment and you’re locked into a time. It’s been nice that JFS has always been relatively flexible. It’s worked out well for our family. Because sometimes there’s just no knowing what life can throw at us schedule-wise. Also, the jobs and opportunities to serve, to be honest, are rather simple. It’s easy and light for those who are looking for ‘casual volunteering’.”

Teaching your kids about charity and giving can be difficult, but when they’re exposed to it first-hand it couldn’t be easier. “There’s more happiness in giving than receiving. When my daughter interacts with the clients at the Pantry door, I think it makes a positive impression on her. And for my son, just being able to contribute in some fashion, whether it’s having him grab a bag or box of cereal, it’s good for him to serve and get in the habit of it at such a young age.” Volunteering in the Pantry has also made an impression on Tim. “There was an older lady who was very appreciative and blessing us for helping her—just the look of joy on her face—and you can say that about several clients. It’s also the sense of gratitude you feel. Sometimes we think our life is rough until we go out and help other people and you realize we really don’t have it that bad.”

Thank you, Wheeler Family, for your years of support to JFS Orlando and our neighbors in need. You’re truly a beautiful, kind, and generous family and your love spreads to each client you greet at the Pantry door. Thank you for being a part of the JFS Volunteer Team!

Interested in helping your community by volunteering with JFS? Several roles are currently available, including helping out in the Pantry and behind-the-scenes office assistance. To sign up, contact us at 407-644-7593 ext. 249 or Audrey.Cohen@JFSorlando.org.

Volunteer Spotlight: Danielle Reeber and Linda Nusynowitz

JFS Orlando’s Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry feeds thousands of our hungry neighbors in Central Florida every year.

Danielle Reeber and Linda Nusynowitz are no strangers to volunteering together. “We know each other since our kids went to the Hebrew Day School—a long time ago! We used to volunteer together in the school kitchen.” Danielle, originally from Hollywood, FL, and Linda, originally from Michigan, now volunteer together in JFS Orlando’s Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry twice a month. And they love it. “Time goes by quickly together!”

Linda explains how she found out about volunteering at JFS. “Danielle told me about this opportunity and how much she gets out of it and it sounded great.” “It feels good to know we’re giving food to those who really need it,” says Danielle. “That little girl [who just came by to pick up food with her dad] was not so happy. I handed her some cookies and now she’s happy! It made her day!” Both Danielle and Linda enjoy how direct the work that they do in the Pantry is. All the food donated to JFS goes straight into the hands of the hungry. “We feel like we’re actually making a difference in people’s lives as opposed to just volunteering at something where they don’t really need us. It’s a big deal!” Truly, the Pantry couldn’t function without the hard work and time our volunteers put in everyday.

Another reason Danielle and Linda enjoy volunteering with JFS is how it opens their eyes and reminds them how hard times can fall on anyone. “You never know in life—what life is gonna bring you. There was a woman who came to the door. She was driving a really nice car and she was really well-dressed. She looked at me and she said she hadn’t had food in her cupboards in so long and she burst into tears! You never know who needs what. People are always judging everybody, but she really needed it. It could happen to anyone. People who really need help come here. And it makes a difference for them.”

Thank you for making a difference in the lives of the clients we serve everyday, Danielle and Linda. You are both so kind, generous, and warm. We are so glad to have you on the JFS Volunteer Team and appreciate you both so much!

Interested in helping your community by volunteering with JFS? Several roles are currently available, including helping out in the Pantry and behind-the-scenes office assistance. To sign up, contact us at 407-644-7593 ext. 249 or Audrey.Cohen@JFSorlando.org.

Volunteer Spotlight: Sandy Weiss

Sandy Weiss prepares sets of food in JFS Orlando’s Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry for our hungry neighbors in Central Florida.

“I think it’s a privilege to work in the Pantry.” Sandy Weiss has volunteered with JFS Orlando since 2018, first as a RAISE coach and now as a full-fledged Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry volunteer. “I helped somebody with the RAISE (Recognizing Abilities & Inclusion of Special Employees) program here and I got to know the job description. So it just evolved.” Sandy has always had a big heart and a love for helping others.

Before moving to Orlando from NYC 48 years ago, Sandy started her career in teaching. “I taught elementary school—4th grade mostly. I was a teacher for 28 years!” While teaching, Sandy and her husband raised their two sons in Maitland (“We’ve lived in our same house for 43 years!”), and their family has now grown to include five grandchildren, some living in the area and some in Charlotte. Now retired, Sandy enjoys volunteering with RAISE and with JFS Orlando’s Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry.

“When I say I volunteer at the Pantry, people’s eyes light up. It just seems magical because it’s something that everybody is for—it’s not this thing or that thing, what people believe or not—we’re feeding and helping the world. And people are hungry!” Sandy notes how the people who come to the Pantry are always so grateful and almost a little embarrassed; they’ve just fallen on hard times. “These are people who are reasonable and they are reaching out. Working here grounds me and it helps me understand more of what’s behind the four walls of our lives. It just shows you that there is another world—you know about it, but when you actually see it, you just become so grateful.”

There have been many moments from working in the Pantry that have left an impression on Sandy, but one particular one stands out the most: “One gentleman came, 20 or 22-years old. That day we had a lot of produce and it was all over-flowing. I opened up the door and his eyes widened. He said, ‘Wow…I haven’t eaten in three days.’ Luckily we had a few bars to hand him. And at that time also, he had no way to get his food home. I said ‘How did you even find us?’ He said ‘I guess when you’re hungry.’ He had gone on the computer and he found us. He said ‘I promise I’m a really good person and I don’t do this kind of thing normally. I’m waiting and I had an interview with Taco Bell.’ All he wanted was a job at Taco Bell….”

Sandy had always wanted to volunteer at the Pantry and, now that she does, she wishes more people would support it too! “I just think people really don’t know. They know it’s a pantry and they say ‘Oh, that’s wonderful’, but they really don’t know. It’s a very happy and fulfilling place. It fills your heart with positivity in a world that is full of so much negativity. Volunteering at the Pantry is something that you can do that’s positive. It makes you happy and you’re putting a smile on someone’s face.”

You put a smile on our faces, Sandy. You are such a sweetheart and you provide such a warm, bright presence to everyone that come up to the Pantry door. We appreciate all that you do for the people we serve and we love having you on the JFS Volunteer Team!

Interested in helping your community by volunteering with JFS? Several roles are currently available, including helping out in the Pantry and behind-the-scenes office assistance. To sign up, contact us at 407-644-7593 ext. 249 or Audrey.Cohen@JFSorlando.org.

Volunteer Spotlight: Robin and Marty Katz

Robin and Marty Katz working together to fight hunger in JFS Orlando’s Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry.

Teamwork makes the dream work! Robin and Marty Katz have volunteered together with JFS Orlando for about a decade. “I do it with Marty because he does the heavy lifting and I do the sorting and putting away,” says Robin. “And so we have a very good teamwork!”

Robin, originally from Chicago, and Marty, originally from New York, met in Arizona. They ran their own restaurant there until they decided to move to Florida in 1997. They sold the restaurant and bought a new business in Florida, a tea distributorship. At the same time, Robin was also a counselor and teacher. Now both retired, they enjoy working out, staying healthy, and their individual hobbies. Marty plays the trumpet with the Maitland Symphony Orchestra and Robin enjoys playing Mahjong. Additionally, they both enjoy volunteering in JFS Orlando’s Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry.

“We’ve always known about JFS!” says Robin. “Actually, Marty started volunteering several years ago. I started to do it with him. We like volunteering together. It’s such a good thing. We feel so good about doing it.” Robin and Marty volunteer the first and second Monday of every month for a couple hours in the afternoon. “It’s the easiest way for you to do community service,” says Marty. “It’s do-able. It’s a two-hour stretch,” says Robin.

The Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry serves clients of all walks of life who have run into an emergency and simply need a “hand up” to make ends meet. People come to pick-up food in their car, on the bus, and even on bicycles and wheelchairs! It’s something that has made quite an impression on Robin. “It really gets to me when I see people going on the bus, carrying all of these things, on a rainy day. What they have to go through to get food is enormous!”

When asked what they like the most about volunteering with JFS, the answer is clear: “Feeding people!” says Marty. “And we really like connecting with the people,” says Robin. “We like the generosity of the donors. And we love the blessings and the thankfulness from the people who get it. It’s just a really good thing.”

Besides our wonderful Pantry Assistant, the Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry is almost entirely run by volunteers. It simply couldn’t function without them. That’s why, when asked what she wishes the community knew about JFS, Robin says “That they need more volunteers. And there’s a lot of people that volunteer, but they’re always calling for more. I wish more people would come and see how nice it is to do it…if they would just give it a try!”

Thank you Robin and Marty for caring so much for the Pantry and the people we serve. You two are the perfect example of a power couple and we love having you on the JFS Volunteer Team!

Interested in helping your community by volunteering with JFS? Several roles are currently available, including helping out in the Pantry and behind-the-scenes office assistance. To sign up, contact us at 407-644-7593 ext. 249 or Audrey.Cohen@JFSorlando.org.

Volunteer Spotlight: Ruth Wallace

Ruth organizes the shelves with food for the hungry in JFS Orlando’s Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry.

Sweet. Caring. Motivated. These are just some of the words that describe one of JFS Orlando’s newest volunteers: Ruth Wallace. Originally from Syracuse, NY, Ruth got married, raised her three children, and now has four grandchildren all in Florida. Thirty years after starting her family, Ruth decided to go back to school for her Masters in Nursing from the University of Florida.

Even after graduating, Ruth continues to stay busy. She volunteers at the Winter Park Library. “I scan history documents. They have all documents about Winter Park history and they’re trying to make them accessible online. So I sit there and scan!” She also attends some classes at Rollins. One day she ran into her friend, Sue Katz. “I’ve known her forever. I went to a class with her at Rollins and she mentioned that she’d volunteered here [at JFS Orlando] for a while.” This past spring, Ruth decided to follow her friend’s suggestion and started volunteering in the Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry.

Every Monday through Thursday, the Pantry is moving. Individuals and families across the Greater Orlando area come by to pick-up food. Whether it’s because hours were cut at work and their paycheck just didn’t stretch far enough, or an unexpected car or house expense came up, the Pantry assists people with one of their most basic necessities: food.

Ruth loves working in the Pantry “because you get to see the people you serve. They’re always so thankful.” She also loves seeing her fellow volunteers, like Pantry volunteer Matthew and Legal Aid Society volunteer and former judge, Leonard Fleet. “I just wish the community knew about JFS’ various services. And I hope they know this is open to everybody, not just the Jewish community.”

Thank you, Ruth, for supporting JFS and the Pantry. From filling-in when we need an extra hand to sharing your smile with clients as they come pick-up food, it’s a pleasure to have you on the JFS volunteer team!

Interested in helping your community by volunteering with JFS? Several roles are currently available, including helping out in the Pantry and behind-the-scenes office assistance. To sign up, contact us at 407-644-7593 ext. 249 or Audrey.Cohen@JFSorlando.org.

Volunteer Spotlight: Judith Hara

Judith prepares to hand out a shopping cart full of donated groceries to a client of JFS Orlando’s Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry.

“It’s only a drop of what they need, but it helps.” Longtime volunteer Judith Hara can’t remember exactly how long she’s volunteered in the Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry—“Over five years,” she estimates—but she knows she loves doing it. “People have to eat and we’re helping in the little way we can. It’s the right thing to do. It’s just such a good feeling to be able to help.”

Born in New York, Judith moved to Orlando as a young girl in the second grade. She later became a registered nurse and mental health counselor, then a wife and mother. “Until last year, we [my husband and I] were caregivers for our parents. And that was a full-time job. Now I’m entering a new phase of life. My husband and I travel to New York a lot to see our grandkids. I’m very involved as a grandma, as a bubbe. Our two granddaughters live up there. They’re 5 and 8. It’s a great age! And I volunteer. I’m going to be working at the Holocaust Center—I’m a second generation of survivors—and I volunteer here [at JFS Orlando].”

Judith and her husband have supported JFS Orlando for several years. “The whole family is pretty involved with JFS. It’s a marvelous organization that helps a lot of people.” By volunteering, Judith gets to see the direct impact on the community right before her eyes. “You give $1 and you give $6 worth of buying,” she explains. “The food goes directly to the people that need it. That’s really cool! When they have food drives and people donate—you actually see it on the shelf and then in the basket going to somebody. It’s not like there’s middle men. It goes straight to them!”

Due to her travelling, Judith has a flexible volunteer schedule with the Pantry. She picks and chooses when she comes in depending on her schedule and when she’s needed. “It depends on their need. Whenever they need me and I’m available. That’s why Matthew [my volunteer partner for today] never knows when he’s going to see me again!”

Judith hands fellow volunteer, Matthew, a set of food.

Giving back to the community is one of her favorite things about volunteering, but Judith admits that meeting the other volunteers is also a perk. “One of the coolest things is that you meet wonderful people. People that volunteer are a special kind of people. Actually, years ago I met one and we’re the best of friends now! You meet nice people. They’re really terrific.”

We think you’re terrific, Judith! Thank you so much for your many years of volunteering and helping the Pantry continue to aid the Greater Orlando community. Your kindness and positive attitude are contagious and greatly appreciated. Thank you!

Join a good cause and meet wonderful, fellow volunteers! Several roles are currently available on our volunteer team. To sign up, contact us at 407-644-7593 ext. 249 or Audrey.Cohen@JFSorlando.org.

Volunteer Spotlight: Pamela Wittenstein

Pamela volunteers in JFS Orlando’s Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry.

Pamela is one of JFS Orlando’s newest volunteers. Originally from Indianapolis, she moved to Florida in 2015 and later to Orlando in 2017 to be closer to her husband’s family. Before retiring, she was a paralegal for 10 years and an insurance adjuster for 30 years. Nowadays she enjoys playing Mahjong, exercising, and volunteering with a few organizations around town—including JFS Orlando!

Looking for a place to volunteer, Pamela reached out to her friends for ideas. “I heard it from Dolores Indek, actually!” she recalls. “I was sitting next to Dolores at a Hadassah meeting and I was telling her that I wanted to find some place to volunteer and she recommended JFS.” Pamela started volunteering at the beginning of 2019, at first helping the Reliable Independent Drivers for the Elderly (RIDE) program with data entry and later in the spring helping in the Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry. She is ready and willing to help however she can, filling in for any empty shifts that might arise. “I try to get here at least once a week. Just depending on what day they need somebody. This week [for example] I’m working three shifts.”

So far, Pamela has enjoyed giving back to the community and people in need through JFS. One of her favorite things about helping out this summer was seeing the little kids. “You hear them when they walk away,” she explains. “They go, ‘They’re so nice!’ Because sometimes when you have a loose cookie or something, or it’s a hot day and there’s a popsicle, you can give it to a little kid and it just makes their day. It’s just nice!” Having the opportunity to directly help people in need is what makes volunteering at JFS so rewarding for Pamela.

Thank you for your kindness, flexibility, and motivation in all of your volunteering work with JFS Orlando, Pamela! We so appreciate you stepping in for those empty shifts and even helping with that behind-the-scenes office work. Directly or indirectly, your hard work is truly helping the people who come to JFS in need. Thank you!

When you volunteer at JFS Orlando, you’re helping to better your community. Want to be a part of our volunteer team? Several types of opportunities are available. To sign up, contact us at 407-644-7593 ext. 249 or Volunteers@JFSorlando.org.

Volunteer Spotlight: Leslie Plotkin and Debbie Shelton

Leslie (left) and Debbie (right)—working in the Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry

Meet lifelong friends, Leslie and Debbie—JFS Orlando’s newest volunteer power duo. Both locals to the area, Leslie and Debbie became friends way back when in 11th grade at Winter Park High School. “Our 50th high school reunion is next March 2020!” Although they’ve remained in the same area, both agreed it’s been hard to find time to see each other. “Life gets in the way…”

Debbie, a mother and grandmother, recently retired from working for 30 years at a law firm. Now she enjoys a host of pastimes, including watercolors, calligraphy, growing her own vegetables, and spending time with Leslie.  Leslie, a wife, a mother, and a grandmother, has been a supporter of the Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry and fighting hunger in Central Florida for years. “I’ve always supported JFS”, says Leslie. “I have wanted to volunteer for a long time and I finally, at the beginning of the year said, ‘I’m going to make this a priority.’ And I came in and I loved it! And now I’ve got Debbie to come do it too!”

“I think we’re a good team,” says Debbie. One day, Leslie happened to mention to her that she had started volunteering at JFS. “I asked her and she said, ‘Yeah, come with me,’” Debbie recalls. “She’s teaching me and it’s such a quick study. I only started a couple weeks ago and we’ve gone 0 to 60!”

Leslie shared that she likes working in the Pantry because of the food it gives out and how welcoming it is. “It amazes me the quality of the food that we get. This is good stuff! And it’s open to everybody. It’s not faith based only. It is anyone in need. Anyone and everyone.” There is, however, one thing that both Leslie and Debbie like more about the Pantry: the people they are helping. “The people are so appreciative,” says Leslie. “I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been blessed and it’s a very fulfilling experience. I’ve really enjoyed it.” “People at the door are grateful. Appreciative,” says Debbie. She explains how she always tries to make them feel comfortable, not ashamed or judged in any way. “I try to just be bright and happy!”

Thank you, Leslie and Debbie, for those bright, happy smiles and all of the hard work you both put in every week at the Pantry. We’re so appreciative of you and we know our clients are too!

Want to be a part of the JFS volunteer team? Join us in fighting hunger and giving back to your community by becoming a JFS volunteer! Several types of opportunities are available, including in the Pantry and the Babysitting Team. To sign up, contact Cherryl Faye, Volunteer Coordinator, at 407-644-7593 ext. 239 or Volunteers@JFSorlando.org.

Volunteer Spotlight: Eileen Meyer Schwartz (In Memoriam)

Eileen (left) and fellow volunteer, Dolores (right), working in the Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry

Dedicated volunteer and friend of JFS Orlando, Eileen Meyer Schwartz passed away on Thursday, May 30, 2019.

Originally from Brooklyn, NY, Eileen dedicated her life to helping others through her work in the legal field. She was a legal assistant for over 50 years, first in New York and later in Orlando after she moved in the 80’s. In August 2017, she married Jerome M. Schwartz.

Eileen loved to support her community by volunteering. In January 2017, she became a Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry volunteer. “Eileen was always smiling,” said Cherryl Faye, JFS Volunteer Coordinator. “She brought such a ray of sunshine to the Pantry; to her fellow volunteers and the clients she helped serve. She just spread happiness to everyone she touched.”

JFS is greatly saddened at the loss of such a beautiful and caring friend. Please join us in sending heartfelt condolences and prayers for Eileen and her family and friends.

Volunteer Spotlight: Holiday Meal Delivery Volunteers

Susan Lazarus (left) and Susie Stone (right) getting ready to deliver Passover holiday meals

Volunteering is good for the mind, body, and soul. This couldn’t be truer for JFS Orlando’s Holiday Meal Delivery volunteers. Although on the surface their job is to simply deliver food to seniors in need, it’s their generosity, dedication, selflessness, and drive to go the extra mile for people they don’t even know that truly impacts the community, (and benefits their own mental health as well!).

The Holiday Meal Delivery Program delivers meals free of charge to homebound, low income seniors in the Greater Orlando area three to four times a year, during Passover, Rosh Hashanah, Thanksgiving and/or Hanukkah. It is part of JFS’ core Jewish value of communal responsibility, to honor our parents and care for older adults. In 2018, the program delivered more than 170 meals to 67 homebound seniors.

JFS is very fortunate to have a big group of dedicated Holiday Meal Delivery volunteers. They’re one of the main reasons the program is able to continue. Although there are many more, at this time JFS would like to spotlight the following volunteers from the recent 2019 Passover meal delivery:

Julie Auerbach

Randi Cunningham

Len Fleet

Susan Lazarus

Lauren Roth

Rachel Selber-Krops

Susie Stone

Dena Wild

David Wittenstein

Susan Lazarus has volunteered with JFS Orlando since she retired back in 2012. “What I like the most about volunteering at JFS is meeting other volunteers, greeting the clients and knowing that I am making a positive impact in their lives.” She volunteers with the Holiday Meal Delivery Program and in the Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry. “I was a Guidance Counselor in Winter Park for 30+ years. A few times in the last 7 years I’ve opened the pantry door and seen one of my school family members that I told about JFS and the food pantry. That is my paycheck—Great feeling!”

In addition to volunteering at JFS, Susan volunteers at many other organizations around town, including the Ronald McDonald House, the gift shop at Ohev, and the Jewish Pavilion. She enjoys people and helping others, hence, volunteering is an important part of her daily routine. Not only does it help others, but it brings her joy as well. “When you give to others…it makes you smile…sign up, you will love helping!”

Thank you, Susan, and all our other Holiday Meal Delivery volunteers for taking the time during the holidays to deliver much more than meals, but also kind faces and kind words to seniors in our community!

Want to be a part of the JFS volunteer team? Join us and give back to your local community. Several types of opportunities are available, including pantry, office assistance, and holiday meal delivery. To sign up, contact Volunteer Coordinator, Cherryl Faye, at 407-644-7593 ext. 239 or Volunteers@JFSorlando.org.