Celebrating the Work of Volunteers as 2014 Fiscal Year Comes to a Close

Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford is seeing its volunteer ranks grow at a time when national numbers are dropping, thanks to a new volunteer engagement program that aims to pair every volunteer with work that fits with their schedule and expertise. In six months, Federation connected more than 200 community members with volunteer work as varied as helping to create academic research partnerships with Israel to helping to ready 10 community gardens for the growing season, during which thousands of pounds of fresh produce is delivered to area food pantries.

Included in the 2014 Annual Campaign plan to build and sustain volunteerism was a ‘Thank You’ event on June 10, 2014 at Beth El Temple. Federation’s community gathered to honor fourteen “Volunteers of the Year” who have shown extraordinary commitment and support to Federation’s network of partners, programs and services. (Find out more about our awardees on our Facebook page.)

“Federation relies on our partnership with volunteers who do vital work to build, repair and strengthen our community for the future,” said Cathrine Fischer Schwartz, President and CEO of Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford. “The work is crucial as to enabling our community to move forward.” To see highlights of the discussion with volunteers, part of a series of videos Federation will be creating over the course of the next few months. (You will be surprised to learn about some of the difference-making details volunteers take part in. Learn more on our YouTube Page.)

  • The Hartford Jewish Coalition for Literacy has helped 4,300 students in the area, about 300 every year. By volunteering for 30 minutes a week, reading mentors help give students vital skills and confidence. For more information, contact, HJCL at 860-727-7323 or email hjcl@jewishhartford.org.
  • Volunteers tend to 10 Jessie’s Community Gardens located throughout Greater Hartford, which supply thousands of pounds of fresh food to local food pantries. Here is a list of volunteer opportunities, including a complete list of the gardens: http://www.jewishhartford.org/get_involved/volunteer/. Their work supports Jewish Family Services’ Anja J. Rosenberg Kosher Food Pantry and Foodshare.
  • Federation’s CT-Israel Technology Initiative is also a volunteer effort. The goal is to foster business and cultural relationships between the Hartford region, the State of Connecticut and Israel. Lasting business and academic partnerships are created at an annual Summit in partnership with Metro Hartford Alliance’s International Business Council. Last spring, as ‘divest from Israeli business’ became a rallying cry at some universities, Federation helped to secure an agreement between the University of St. Joseph and an Israeli university to share future resources and research in the field of nursing. “Had it not been for the Federation, these meaningful relationships would not have gotten started,” explains Brad Mondschein, a Federation board member, Jewish Community Relations Council Volunteer of the Year recipient and lawyer at Pullman & Comley in Hartford. 
  • The Jewish world continues to respond to Israel in times of crisis. In Greater Hartford, volunteers are raising awareness of the critical humanitarian aid that is needed to help Israelis under fire. To learn more about the Stop The Sirens campaign, visit www.jewishhartford.org/donate.

Federation’s work cannot be done with out the help of social action volunteers. Advocating for the emotional and physical issues facing Israelis—via social media or by distributing material—is one of the simplest most impactful things you can do to show your support for Israel. To help, email our public affairs division. Laura Zimmerman, Associate Vice President of Public Affairs, can find opportunities for you with our Israel Task Force, Interfaith Group and more. Email: lzimmerman@jewishhartford.org. For details on other volunteer opportunities, contact our Director of Community Engagement Risa Sugarman at 860.727.6151 or rsugarman@jewishhartford.org.


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