A Message from Kristen Jackson for JFS Volunteer Appreciation
By Kristen Jackson, Director of Volunteer Engagement
Just about every Superhero story has a few of the same key elements and the story of the superhero volunteers that we’re telling today is no different.
The first element of those stories is, of course, their superpower, which is often enabled by a special item. Our volunteer’s specialized item isn’t a hammer or a cape. It’s their values and heart. Each of our volunteers has a unique quality that makes them want to give their time to making their community and world better and every single one of them does it with humility. JFS is able to be the agency we are because of the superpower of our volunteers. The smiles, warmth, and compassion that meet each client at our doors is brought by them.
The second element: a secret identity. I think that many of you family members and friends out there will know exactly where I’m going with this one. The volunteers think they’re being secretive but we’ve all figured them out. And, I hate to say but we’re going to reveal many of their secret identities today. I can guarantee that most of our volunteers would never tell you about the impact they’re making each day. They all volunteer not for the award that may come with it, not to shout from the rooftops that they’re doing good in the world, but simply to make a difference in the lives of those who are struggling. They aren’t boastful, they are modest and humble. So, while they’d like to keep their identities a secret, I, personally, love having the chance to shout their names from the rooftop and let everyone know that they are changing lives and saving the world.
The third piece: a supervillain adversary. I think we all know that this year’s supervillain is Covid. Our volunteers have found ways to continuously overcome the obstacles that this “villain” has put in their paths. But there are more. Our volunteer heroes have been overcoming obstacles against the world’s “supervillains” for years. They have each risen to the occasion to help fight poverty, homelessness, food insecurity, joblessness, and abuse, amongst a myriad of other problems we face. Like the villains we see in comics, television shows, and movies, these are not easy things to steadily and regularly fight against but our volunteers show up each day, week, month, and year, to continue the battle.
Lastly, each story features an iconic sidekick. Our volunteers don’t just have one sidekick though, they’ve got a whole community of people fighting alongside them. We are each other’s sidekicks, constantly lifting each other up and encouraging each other when things get hard (and trust me, they get hard).
Each of you has helped us to overcome some seemingly impossible tasks this last year and, I know, will continue to help for years to come. Thank you to each of you for joining us as we tell this story today and thank you to each of you who are our volunteer superheroes for sharing your unwavering strength, courage, and dedication with Jewish Family Service. You will hear it many times today but we are, truly, so lucky to have your superpowers on our side.
Watch the full virtual Volunteer Appreciation Event below: