Describe the mission, programs, and services of your organization:
Jewish Family Service is a multi service agency, and we have been serving the community in Seattle since 1892. We serve Refugees and Immigrants, provide services for seniors, adults with disabilities, victims of domestic violence, people dealing with addictions, and we have a counseling department, educational workshops on many topics, a food bank, cooking classes, emergency service department, and we host a weekly AA meeting.
How does your organization engage volunteers?
We had more than 1,300 volunteers engaging with us in the past year, and the volunteers did everything from helping in the food bank, teaching ESL, mentoring newly arrived families, helping in the office, raising money and food donations, helping with outreach and volunteer recruitment, to serving on committees and boards, or donating professional services.
How did you come into the field of volunteer engagement?
After working in educational research and school reform for many years I decided that I wanted to work professionally with people who were giving their time out of the goodness of their hearts. I had always engaged with volunteers on community projects in the past, but I had never been a professional Volunteer Manager. I decided it was time to seek a position and was lucky to find an opening in this agency. I have been here almost 17 years.
What are some of the successes and challenges you have had engaging volunteers?
Most successful has been finding a very wide variety of volunteers to help our clients and our agency. We have volunteers from so many language groups and backgrounds, as well as different ages and walks of life. It’s very enriching for all of us. The biggest challenge is to find the right person for some very particular needs, especially when we have a very short amount of time to find that just right volunteer. In spite of all the great committed volunteers, that‘s still a challenge.
If you could change one thing about the world, what would you change and why?
I would imbue everyone with the kindness gene. I would make people intelligent, funny and physically healthy also, but I would focus on the kindness gene.
What is the most interesting item in your closet?
This is the hardest question.. should I say my two tone cowgirl boots, my handmade tapestry backpack, or my black velour top hat? That is hard to answer.
Please RSVP to Jane for next Thursday’s Professional Gathering, “Engaging Corporate Volunteers” with co-host Lindsey Ismailova (Volunteer Coordinator, Full Life Care) from 11:30-1:00pm at Jewish Family Service