April Is Volunteer Appreciation Month
By Joan E. Maniere
Shalom Austin aims to be the hub of Jewish life, including Jewish volunteering, in Central Texas, rooted in one of Shalom Austin’s core values of tikkun olam. The Jewish value of tikkun olam challenges the human capacity to improve the world by participating in efforts toward a just, compassionate, and equal society, commonly referred to as “repairing the world.”
Shalom Austin Volunteering lives within Jewish Family Service (JFS), allowing community members to provide direct services to individuals JFS serves. The volunteering services and programs offer meaningful, engaging, and cooperative volunteer experiences to make a positive impact within the Jewish community, the Greater Austin Area, and each other. Volunteering is not just a way of contributing to someone else’s life but to the future world we are creating for one another. Whether it be through time, donations, and/or ideas, Shalom Austin has a tikkun olam engagement opportunity for everyone.
The volunteering opportunities offered address the needs of community partner agencies, members, and clients while, simultaneously, catering to volunteers’ interests. Currently, JFS volunteering services address food and housing insecurity, refugee resettlement efforts (through a strong partnership with Austin Jews and Partners for Refugees), social isolation, and Jewish holiday-oriented programs utilizing volunteers in all ages and stages of life. Volunteers work in the JFS Food Pantry, visit isolated community members, celebrate Shabbat at senior facilities throughout Austin, and our youngest volunteers learn about tikkun olam through family projects. Shalom Austin Volunteers are Women’s Philanthropy members, YAD participants and congregants from every congregation in Austin.
Volunteers make a wider impact than beyond the contribution to the intended recipients. They build relationships with fellow community members, solidify partnerships with social service organizations in Austin and inspire individual’s and family’s Jewish journeys.
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