Renée Polsky Silver comes from a long line of volunteers.
“From my parents, Ellen and Larry Polsky, grandparents Norman and Elaine Polsky and Rosalind and Sidney Ginsburg and my great grandparents, Rachel and Isadore Polsky and Leona Goldfinger. My Bubbie, Rachel Polsky would go to the Jewish nursing home and cut the residents’ toe nails, she would collect money for tzedakah,” said Renée Polsky Silver. “My grandmothers were involved with so many organizations — National Council of Jewish Women, Hadassah, Kansas City Free Health Clinic — the list goes on and on.”
Renée’s family members also have volunteered for JFS for years. One memorable story involved her parents adopting a Jewish couple and their baby who immigrated to Kansas City from Russia.
“My parents helped them settle in their apartment that was across from the JCC, taught them how to go grocery shopping, provided them with things they needed such as diapers and furniture, transported them places, had them over for many meals, taught them how to drive, and still keep in touch with them today,” noted Renée.
Renée’s first involvement with JFS was when she started gift wrapping with her mother and sister during our Hanukkah Projects. Over the years, she recruited family members and friends to assist with the gift wrapping efforts. She also recruited the next generation of volunteers, her children Nathan, Lainey, and Sophie Silver, to help out.
“Two years ago, we took home Hanukkah cards that needed to be decorated. The kids got to decorate them and we included them with the gifts that were being wrapped,” said Renée.
While the COVID-19 pandemic sidelined JFS’s official Hanukkah Project gift wrapping celebration, the Polsky Silver Family coordinated with JFS staff to continue their holiday tradition as they dropped off the Hanukkah Project gifts at their home.
“We spent two nights wrapping gifts and enjoying each other’s company. It felt so good to do something ‘normal’ and to be able to help during this time of COVID,” said Renée. “It was very therapeutic for all of us.”
Before the pandemic, Renée also volunteered as a JET Express driver. She started driving for JET Express after developing bonds with the Village Shalom residents and staff when her late grandmother was a resident.
“When my grandmother Elaine passed, I missed seeing my grandparents’ friends, other residents, and staff whom we had gotten to know at Village Shalom,” said Renée. “I was looking for a new way to contribute to our community. That’s when I found JET Express.”
Renee’s children accompanied her during her time as a JET Express driver and they truly enjoyed spending time with their favorite passenger: Ms. Myrna, who sang songs and told stories to the kids during their rides.
“Every Friday morning, the kids would ask ‘Do we get to see Ms. Myrna today?’” said Renée. “We can’t wait to get back to driving with JET Express.”
For Renée and her husband, Larry, it is important to teach their children to the power of Tikkun Olam.
“It is so important to us to teach and include our children about the importance of Tikkun Olam and doing things for other people,” said Renée. “This is something helpful and fun that we can do as a family.”
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, please contact the volunteer engagement team at (913) 730-1410 or firstname.lastname@example.org.