For Immediate Release
Contact: Wendee Cutler
wcutler@bjhfoundation.org
336-337-6584

 

Older Jewish Adults as Volunteers

“Enhancing the lives of older Jewish adults” can mean many different things to older adults and their family members.

Every one of us wants to know we are valuable contributors to our community, regardless of our age and ability. Our older Jewish adults are not an exception. Growing older doesn’t mean one is unable to volunteer and contribute.

Volunteering is one way older Jewish adults are able to maintain youth, vitality, mental capacity and overall good health. Most people that volunteer indicate they receive immense personal satisfaction. Often times they don’t think of their efforts as giving of themselves because they receive a “gift” knowing they made someone else’s day a little brighter or easier.

Recently I attended the TEDWoman 2017 Bridges program. In Zimbabwe, Dr. Dixon Chibanda recognized the wisdom of “grandmothers” or older adults. Zimbabwe has a huge shortage of psychiatrists and he wanted to find a way to help the large population suffering from depression.

Dr. Chibanda trained the wise women as “grandmother health providers” in the Freedom Bench program. Some aren’t even grandmothers. They are trained, sympathetic volunteers that sit on park benches and listen to the many people needing a little guidance and support. Thanks to the “grandmothers” the suicide rate is declining in Zimbabwe. In addition, these “grandmothers” lives are improved knowing they are still helping others.

In North Carolina, the town of New Bern has an active group of older Jewish volunteers. This small community has an even smaller Jewish population, most being older Jewish adults. The community could not survive if it wasn’t for the many older Jewish adults that constantly volunteer. They do everything from being lay leaders at services, to teaching religious school and the ultimate act of Chevra Kadisha.

These older Jewish adults formed their own Chevra Kadisha group many years ago with the help of a grant from BJH Foundation. They became trained in helping families as members age and need other assistance, including the ultimate Mitzvah of burial.

The older Jewish adults I met in New Bern are actively involved in all aspects of community and family. I am convinced this helps keep them young and vibrant.

The last example of older Jewish adults gaining satisfaction by volunteering was at the recent Temple Emanuel Jewish Festival. This group gave of their time and effort in spite of weather that was not entirely cooperative the day of the festival. They want to contribute to the community that welcomes and honors them.

With thoughtful planning it is possible to include older Jewish adult volunteers in the process. At the Temple Emanuel Festival there were many opportunities where volunteers could sit, stand or walk while contributing to the overall success. Including the older Jewish adults in a multitude of ways in the community is a win-win for everyone!

We encourage all of you to think about the life you envision in your retirement years. What are some of the ways you may need assistance? What are some of your social and educational areas of interest? Where do you envision yourself living as you gracefully age? These are just a few of the questions the BJH Foundation Board tries to answer each year when awarding grants.

Of course it is important to note we always welcome contributions. Growing the balance of our funds invested with the Jewish Foundation of Greensboro allows greater amounts of money to be allocated each year as grant awards.

For more information, please contact Wendee Cutler at 336-854-8400 or email wcutler@bjhfoundation.org.