JFS older adult programs are powered by volunteers

By Stephanie Goodling
HAKOL Editor

The vision of Jewish Family Service of the Lehigh Valley is that “No one in our community should suffer hunger, isolation, abandonment, emotional or physical distress, or lack of community support and caring.” Part of the way that JFS manifests that vision is through a variety of dynamic programs for community members, including older adults. And it takes a dedicated crew of volunteers to make those initiatives possible. 

One such volunteer is Dr. Sam Bub, who helps run the retired men’s Schmooze and Schmear monthly meetings. His experience practicing family medicine gives him insight into why it’s so important for older people to stay connected with others.

“One thing that helps us age successfully is maintaining relationships. It’s been a real privilege. I’ve probably gotten more out of it than what I put into it, and it’s rewarding to see how people are responding to this,” said Bub. 

His co-facilitator of Schmooze and Schmear is Leon Zoller, who also volunteers in leading Shabbat services at long-term care residences, delivering freshmade kosher meals to older adults through the monthly Mazel Meals program and with other JFS activities. 

“I’ve been delivering Mazel Meals for so long now, I know all these people, and they all call me by first name. It’s not just dropping off a package. So it’s great for me. I love it,” shared Zoller.

Others help behind the scenes to keep crucial services like the Community Food Pantry running for all ages in the community. Larry Center volunteers at many organizations, and when he wanted to add JFS to the list, he was asked to assist clients in the pantry.

“It’s just a part of giving back. Now that I’m retired, I enjoy giving back to the community. I find that volunteering is very fulfilling, and it’s a good use of my time,” said Center.

Albert Derby also helps out with the food pantry by picking up fresh produce each week from the Monocacy Farm Project and occasionally making other stops like at the Second Harvest warehouse in Nazareth. 

“I enjoy helping the pantry, and it’s very nice to drive out to the farm every week and interact with the people at the farm and see the crops grow and bring the fresh produce for the people. Knowing people are getting some fresh vegetables into their diet is nice to know,” said Derby, whose wife also volunteers with JFS and got him involved.

All of these volunteers agree that volunteering with JFS is a meaningful way to spend their time. 

“My wife and I found everything here already when we came here from South Africa in 1977 -- all the different temples and JCC. It’s been due to the charitable work of people that preceded us, and I think it’s really important we give back. That’s why I volunteer, and especially with the Schmooze and Schmear program for older men. It was a great pleasure for me to start this program, especially working with Leon and Carol Wilson. They’ve been superstars in terms of helping me. And, I’ve met so many interesting people,” added Bub.

If you’d like to volunteer with Jewish Family Service, contact Chelsea Karp at 610-821-8722 or ckarp@jfslv.org. If you’re interested in learning more about programming for older adults, contact Carol Wilson at 610-351-9956 or cwilson@jfslv.org.