I became a volunteer for NCJW/LA this year. It has given me many wonderful experiences. The program is well organized and serves different groups in the community. I recently participated in the Mitzvah night. It has given me the inspiration to form a women's group in my area. I love the interaction of the members and the satisfaction of giving back.
Before I was asked to join the Board in 2008, I enjoyed volunteering at the annual Clothing Giveaway with my mother. We volunteer together at this event every year, and always come away with a great feeling of community, satisfaction and gratitude. While we serve our community at the event, we station ourselves at different tables, Mom usually at the Women's table and I usually at the Men's. After our shift is over, we share our experience over lunch at Canter's, where I learn of some of her brief, yet incredibly poignent and meaningful, encounters with women seeking clothing for work, for home, for chores and for school; and she learns of mine with the men. As we talk, our conversation is often peppered with tears, with great guffaws of joy, and sometimes with silence as we count our own blessings. In 2009, the line went around the block on Rosewood, and then around that block to Hayworth, and then down almost to Beverly Blvd.! The last clothing giveaway was in December 2010, and we were both SHOCKED to see the number of people lined up! I believe there were almost 6,000 people served that overcast December Sunday, and 92.3 FM sent dj's to play fabulous old school jams that kept our spirits up and our faces smiling with song!
The staff at NCJW/LA deserves mention, because they're not just "staff". They seem to live and breathe for the Organization, showing up to events in the evenings, weekends and on holidays! I am always amazed and envious of their seemingly endless energy and enthusiasm for their jobs and the people they serve!
I chose to volunteer on TalkLine because I want to help - by listening and showing others that I care - TalkLine offered invaluable training and athe wonderful supervisors, interns and guest speakers made training fun, unteresting and something I will take with me all my life. NCJW has so many great programs and people working there - I am proud to be a part of it all.
Since 2001 I have worked on a weekly basis with the Alexandria House after school and teen programs through NCJW-LA. Because the children progress through this program from kindergarten all the way through high school graduation, I have had the chance to watch kids grow up---and benefit from the homework help, arts projects, and writing workshops, not to mention field trips. Having known some of the kids for almost ten years, I feel that they are more like my own children rather than just students. I have had teens I’ve known for many years literally tell me “you saved me" or "you changed my life," and I have even had a couple kids call me (years after they left the program), to thank me for supporting them all those years. This is the most rewarding experience I have ever had, and I cannot imagine my life without it. The passion and consistency with which NCJW-LA supports this neighborhood program continually amazes me.
I signed up with the homework club because they are close to my house, but the reward has been so much more. I look forward to every Tuesday and feel like I'm actually making a difference in some of the kids' lives. One student, I feel like I've formed a special bond with. Before homework club, we wasn't completing any of his work. But, this student was clearly intelligent. He wasn't getting any of the attention he so needed. Now, he rushes over to me, we quickly finish his work, and then he has time to talk about whatever is on his mind that week! I can tell he really appreciates the one on one time. It means so much to me.
I chose to volunteer with NCJW because it was close to my house and I'm so glad I did. The staff is fantastic -- they really care about volunteers and clients -- and they have lots of programs to choose from. I really feel like I'm making a difference when I volunteer with them. They allow volunteers to help pilot new programs, which lets us use our strengths and specialties to the utmost extent. Also, they're excellent at communicating with volunteers, and they always express their gratitude for our work. I've volunteered with many different organizations, and I've never felt so at home as I have with NCJW.
Because of NCJW, our ArtPals groups bring art appreciation, art lessons, and art projects to low-income schools. Our ArtPals students don't have access to museums or art classes and are able to express themselves in many mediums, leading to enhanced learning in all facets of their lives. Without the support of NCJW, this program would not be possible.