Jewish Family Service and Generation Serve Offer Volunteer Opportunities Together
Little Helpers, children ages 3-5 and their families, sort food in the Shalom Austin Jewish Family Service food pantry, decorate reusable bags to take to the grocery store and make rice socks for cats in local Austin animal shelters. Photo credit: Rabbi Amy B. Cohen
By Rabbi Amy B. Cohen
Volunteers come in all shapes and sizes. Shalom Austin Jewish Family Service and Generation Serve are coming together to teach the youngest volunteers and their families that all it takes to change the world, are two little hands.
This past fall, JFS and Generation Serve launched their first two cohorts of Little Helpers, children ages 3-5 and their families, for five mornings of learning and volunteering together. Two cohorts of classes met safely outside on the Dell Jewish Community Campus and the Jewish Family Service office on Jollyville Road, to learn about the impact they can make on the environment, homelessness, food insecurity and more. The Little Helpers sorted food in the JFS food pantry, decorated reusable bags to take to the grocery store and made rice socks for cats in local Austin animal shelters.
Rabbi Amy Cohen, Shalom Austin chief social service officer and JFS executive director shared, “This partnership was developed by bringing together Shalom Austin lay leaders who already volunteered with Generation Serve, and the leadership of Generation Serve and JFS. It quickly became apparent that by working together, we could engage more families in volunteering, ultimately strengthening both organizations’ impact in developing community minded leaders for the future.”
Joan Maniere, the new Shalom Austin volunteer director worked together with Generation Serve to incorporate Jewish values into each lesson. With the goals of learning together, making an impact on the community and building friendships, the first cohorts were an incredible success.
Samantha Bloom Friedman, one of the teachers for the Little Helpers groups shared, “Having had the honor of being part of both Generation Serve and Shalom Austin separately, it was a dream come true to be able to support planning and implantation of Little Helpers and JFS. Watching families work together to perform tikkun olam and seeing the Little Helpers make connections between service and Jewish values was a joy.”
Two Little Helpers groups are starting in March and April, and Cohen expects this partnership to grow in the years ahead as JFS works together with Generation Serve to create more volunteer opportunities for teenagers approaching b’nai mitzvah and beyond.
JFS and Generation Serve are incredibly grateful to Phil and Adam Loewy, Frances and Adam Meltzer, Lexie Zell and Alex Baker, Nii Moi and Sonya Feinberg Addo and Liz and Erick Bronson for sponsoring this year’s cohorts.
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