Last month, we covered some local volunteer opportunities for the whole family — from children to grandparents — to brighten someone’s day. This month, we continue to explore organizations in our area that truly benefit from volunteers. As you think about what type of volunteer work is the best fit for you and your family, perhaps consider trying something that you can make a part of your regular routine, instead of a one-time engagement.
Founded in 2002, Areyvut’s mission is to imbue the lives of Jewish youth and teenagers with the Jewish values of chesed, tzedakah and tikkun olam. In addition to helping facilitate volunteer opportunities for individuals or families, Areyvut specializes in running programs for schools and synagogues, working with Bar and Bat Mitzvah students to custom-tailor projects to their individual personalities, and incorporating chesed activities into B’nai Mitzvah celebrations.
“There are tons of things that people can do that are meaningful to an organization and can make a real difference,” says Daniel Rothner, Areyvut’s Founder and Director. Off the top of his head, Rothner can name countless local organizations that benefit from volunteers including senior centers, food pantries, the Hebrew Free Burial Association, nature centers and conservancies. There are also organizations that enable people here in New Jersey to help those in Israel, including Yad Leah, Leket and One Family. The organization encourages volunteers to get involved with projects in their area of interest. You can learn more at www.areyvut.org.
Visit a Senior
The simple interactions that we have throughout the day are easy for many of us to take for granted. Did you ever stop to think about all of the people that you have interacted with before lunchtime? But for some seniors living in nursing homes or assisted living facilities, life can be a lot more isolating. There are many senior facilities throughout the area, including The Jewish Home at Rockleigh, CareOne of Teaneck, The Lester Senior Housing Community, Bright Side Manor and the New Jersey Veterans Memorial Home. Just providing a friendly face and a listening ear is plenty, but there is so much more that volunteers can do. Many of the facilities are always looking for guest speakers, musical performers, mah jong or card players and volunteers to help out on Thanksgiving and Christmas. If the facility permits, consider bringing even the smallest children with you — many of the people that you visit will be delighted just to see and interact with a baby or toddler. Some facilities also encourage you to bring your pet (during designated hours) for pet therapy. CareOne has nearly 30 locations throughout New Jersey, many of which have regularly scheduled pet therapy sessions. Pet therapy is proven to provide therapeutic effects, and this is a fun way to engage your whole family in bringing joy to others.
Jewish Family Service
In addition to kosher Meals-on-Wheels, senior programming and services, counseling and food pantries, Jewish Family Service of Bergen and North Hudson as well as Jewish Family Service of Passaic-Clifton are always look for volunteers to lend a helping hand. Whether it’s taking on a weekly or monthly delivery, providing job search assistance, looking in on a senior, offering pro-bono counseling or professional services, “adopting-a-grandparent,” donating a car or other needed item, or organizing a canned food drive to benefit the food pantry, JFS has volunteer opportunities for as much or as little time as you have. Visit jfsbergen.org or jfsclifton.org.
For over 25 years, Tomchei Shabbos of Bergen County and Tomchei Shabbos of Passaic-Clifton have provided meals to Jewish families in their respective areas. By relying on volunteers to assemble and distribute packages of food, they are able to use nearly 100 percent of operating expenses towards the purchase of food for distribution, ensuring that everyone in the community can enjoy Shabbos. For more information about volunteering for Tomchei Shabbos of Bergen County, please e-mail [email protected] To volunteer for Tomchei Shabbos of Passaic-Clifton, please call 973-773-5090.
By Rachel Jager