November 6, 2009
I immigrated from the former Soviet Union in 1994 at the age of 19 arriving in the United States all alone. My immigration was made possible by HIAS, whose main mission has been and is to rescue, resettle and support those in need. HIAS helped thousands and thousands of Soviet Jews immigrate to the States in 1970s-1990ss. I received great education and made a successful career in the US. When I was at the point of my life when I had time to give back, I chose to volunteer at HIAS, the organization that made a profound difference in my life and in lives of others.
I was interested in genealogy, so after I joined one lecture given by a HIAS historian and leading genealogist, I volunteered to help with the organization of Roots and History genealogy club and became responsible for planning the club's meetings, lecture topics, club promotion, and member retention. The club was and is a great success. We have a page on MeetUp.com and if you look up Roots & History Club there, you'll see that we have 45 genealogists. Club meetings provided members with hands-on techniques on how to do one's genealogical research, while HIAS's genealogist also read a mini-lecture each time we met on different aspects of Jewish history in the Eastern Europe so everyone could put the history of their family in the context of Jewish history in 19-20th century.
I am now on maternity leave and don't manage the club anymore but the work I've done and the value it provided to me and many others was extremely rewarding and inspiring. HIAS never brags about the great work they do, they just do what's important to rescue peo9ple in need and to promote Jewish values and history. For that, I keep this organization in the highest regard, and as soon as I can continue my volunteering there, I will.
I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...
that HIAS helped me and my family to immigrate to the United States where I created a better future for myself. My work at HIAS also opened to me the world of genealogy and made some amazing discoveries in the history of my family.
What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...
working with like-minded young people who also want to give back and make a difference. It's inspiring and it creates a great sense of community.
If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...
rescue and resettle refugees from Burma (Myanmar), Iran and Iraq, advocate finding solutions to various immigration issues in Washington DC on a much larger scale, provide bigger scholarships to gifted Jewish students, organize more community projects.
How frequently have you been involved with the organization?
About every month
When was your last experience with this nonprofit?
Volunteer & I was responsible for the work of the Jewish genealogy club and I was an active member of the Service Committee that met monthly to develop various community projects promoting jewish history and values.