- People with Disabilites
At 83, Mrs. Bernstein has been doing fairly well living alone in her San Francisco apartment. As a Holocaust survivor and legally blind she is a homebound client of JFCS and receives case management and Kosher Meals on Wheels each day.
Recently, she needed help installing grab bars to improve her bathroom’s safety. JFCS’ newest volunteer project, Mensches On the Go, will bring more clients access to a variety of skilled volunteers to complete short-term projects throughout the Bay Area who need a little extra help.
Merle Kovtun has been a true mensch volunteering with JFCS for almost 20 years, helping JFCS clients like Mrs. Bernstein live safely and independently. As a handyman, and one of the inspirations for the new program, Merle is happy to lend his skills doing simple electrical fixes, basic plumbing work and installing deadbolts.
Other projects of Mensches On the Go will include teaching fundamental technology skills, providing practical assistance like organizing for moves and clothes shopping, and basic household fixes like installing safety guard rails.
“Anyone with some basic skills has an opportunity to make a huge difference,” says Merle.
Many JFCS clients are seniors and people with disabilities that occasionally need assistance dealing with simple tasks like changing light bulbs or figuring out how they can Skype with their grandchildren on their computers.
Rachel Kesselman, JFCS’ Director of Volunteer and Community Outreach Programs, says, “If you can’t do it yourself and don’t’ have anyone who can do it for you, what are you going to do? These small tasks that some of us take for granted can become a big deal.”
For volunteers the requirements are simple: a background check, a two hour training, and a commitment to keep in close communication with staff. The opportunity offers a meaningful way to give back that’s also flexible to schedule.
When asked about his favorite part about volunteering, Merle is quick to answer, “The people I meet are so appreciative. I feel great that I’ve helped them feel secure in their own space … If you try it a few times, you’ll understand what I mean!”
Find out more about this opportunity by contacting a Volunteer Coordinator near you:
In Palo Alto:
Contact Bobbi Bornstein at 650-688-3090; BobbiB@jfcs.org.
In San Francisco:
Contact Rachel Kesselmen at 415-449-1288; RachelK@jfcs.org.
In Santa Rosa:
Contact Barbara Tobin at 707-303-1510; Barbarat@jfcs.org.
In San Rafael:
Contact Dorit Israel at 415-419-3661; DoritI@jfcs.org.