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JFCS Volunteer Spotlight

Our Committed Volunteers

Spotlight on Volunteer Faiga Goldman

This month we are showcasing one of our youngest volunteers: Faiga Goldman, 11. Several months ago, Faiga saw that her mom was writing a letter and she asked about it. The letter was to a Jewish inmate in Pennsylvania's prison system.

Prison Pen Pals is a volunteer program at JFCS that connects volunteers with Jewish inmates. They write back and forth letting the inmate know that he or she is still part of the Jewish Community. The writing can be done anonymously.

Faiga, a student at Politz Hebrew Academy, found this very interesting and also began writing to the inmate.

"I think it made him really happy," said Faiga. "Letters cheer up the prisoners."

She decorated her letters and wrote about her schoolwork and activities she likes to do.

Faiga continued, "I asked him what his favorite color was and what his favorite movie was. I think it made him feel better because he didn't have a lot to do."

This August, Faiga and her mom met with their pen pal who was recently released from prison and is trying to re-integrate into society. He is presently living in a half-way house.

"It was pretty fun," said Faiga. "We played cards and I wasn't nervous at all."

Doing mitzvot is important in Faiga's family.  "It is a good thing to help these prisoners with letters. It eases their plight," said Faiga's mom. "But more than that, for this man, it maintained his connection to Judaism."

Spotlight on Volunteers Merle Neulight and Stan Wortman

Merle Neulight gives hundreds of hours of service each year through her volunteer work with JFCS. At St. Mary's Medical Center in Langhorne, she is a patient advocate and Parachaplain to all Jewish patients, interacting with about 70 patients a week. Merle received the Presidential Award from St. Mary's for contributing more than 400 hours of service.

"I try to give patients my undivided attention," Merle said, "and in return I get this wonderful feeling of giving back for all the people who have been good to me in my own life."

Stan Wortman has been a volunteer at St. Mary's for more than 14 years, spending 2,500 hours advocating for patients, bringing Yiddishkeit to Jewish patients, and helping direct visitors at the front desk, among his other responsibilities.

Both Merle and Stan are excited that JFCS has started to deliver Challah to Jewish patients at St. Mary's on Friday afternoons.

"I have been hoping that this program would come here for the past five years," Stan said. "It's fantastic that we are bringing this symbol of the warmth of Judaism and the Sabbath to our Jewish patients. They really appreciate it."

Merle agrees, "We JFCS volunteers at St. Mary's are really happy to have the Challah Program here. It's important to bring Judaism to the Jewish patients. We always tell them that they are in the thoughts and prayers of the Jewish Community. Now, bringing them Challah adds another level to what we do."

Click here to learn more about our Challah Program or to become a volunteer challah deliverer.

Spotlight on Volunteer Frank Cherry

A volunteer with Jewish Family and Children’s Service (JFCS) of Greater Philadelphia for over seven years, Frank Cherry has served in many different capacities.  Currently, Frank sees approximately two JFCS clients per day during his three-day-a-week volunteer schedule and he structures his services to the particular needs of his clients.

Spending about an hour during each visit just listening to and enjoying music, Frank brings unbridled joy into the life of one client.  Cherry has also assisted JFCS’ visually impaired clients by reading their mail, helping them with their grocery shopping, and performing a variety of other organizational tasks.

Recently, Frank signed up for the Silver Wheels program as a way to give back to the community. According to Cherry, “People truly appreciate the convenience and ability to get around.  Plus, I get to meet a lot of different people who have no other way to accomplish their daily activities.  I want to help elder adults live safely and independently. That’s why I like doing this.”   Cherry takes clients shopping, to medical and JFCS appointments - and, to the delight of his passengers, Frank even sneaks in a few visits to local delis. 

A northeast Philadelphia resident, Frank enjoys watching his grandchildren play soccer and lacrosse and attending their gymnastic recitals.

 “Mr. Cherry’s kind, patient, and caring demeanor makes him a great volunteer for many challenged and struggling clients who tell me that their lives would not be the same if it were not for Frank Cherry. – A JFCS Social worker.

Click here to learn more about volunteer opportunities with JFCS, including the Silver Wheels program.