Kathy Keller proves volunteers stay nimble at Jewish Family Services
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all of us in various ways, including volunteers at Jewish Family Services. However, a pandemic hasn’t stopped dedicated individuals such as Kathy Keller from finding ways to help the thousands of people JFS serves every day.
Kathy has been volunteering for JFS since August 2013 when she became a JET Express volunteer driver. Later, Kathy switched her volunteer efforts to JFS’ Food Pantry as well as serving as a Spiritual Career Volunteer through the Chaplaincy program. Like so many of us, when COVID-19hit, Kathy had to pivot. She couldn’t work in the pantry, but she did find other ways to contribute – and in a big way.
“I made over 400 masks for JFS, as well as over another 100 for family, friends, and neighbors,” Kathy said. “Making masks to be given to The Pantry clients was something I could do for them while I couldn’t be there.”
Kathy had to stop making masks late last summer due to eye surgery; once again, it did not stop this resilient volunteer from finding another way to lend a hand. She has joined her fellow spiritual care volunteers in making calls to JFS older adult clients who live in care facilities helping them to feel less isolated.
For Kathy, volunteering is a family tradition.
“My parents and grandparents set the example for me that volunteerism is extremely important and that giving of one’s time, instead of just writing a check, is something we should do if we are able,” Kathy said.
She also credits her family’s rabbi in Iowa City for inspiring her volunteer efforts, recalling how he paid visits to her parents over the years when they dealt with health issues.
For Kathy, volunteering at JFS is a “natural fit,” she said.
“I am doing something worthwhile in the Jewish community but also in the community at large, Kathy said. “The majority of pantry clients at the Brookside location are not Jewish. My volunteer work at The Pantry helps JFS be part of the community and be known as an organization that will help all people, regardless of faith, gender identity, or race.”
Serving as a Spiritual Care volunteer, Kathy said she has made both Jewish and non-Jewish friends when visiting at older adult care facilities prior to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Even though I go there to visit the Jewish residents, I often have friendly chats, smiles, etc. with a number of the residents. I think this reflects well on JFS as an organization,” she said.
Kathy loves her volunteer work with JFS.
“I not only love it but that I love the people,” she said. “The senior citizens I visit and the Pantry clients have become my extended family. They have made my life better. I miss seeing them so much and am anxious to get back to in-person volunteering as soon as it is safe. I think that even though I put a lot of energy into my volunteer jobs, I get so much more out of it.”
JFS is grateful to Kathy and all our volunteers for the tremendous time and energy they put into giving back to others. To learn more about JFS volunteer opportunities, email email@example.com or call (913) 730-1410.