Submitted to the Kansas City Jewish Chronicle
JET Express, the volunteer driver program offered through Jewish Family Services, is marking its 10th anniversary of getting older adults who no longer drive to the places they need to go. Hundreds of older adults in the Kansas City area are able to get to the doctor’s office, grocery store, entertainment, religious institutions or visit friends, thanks to this program. Volunteers are able to drive when it meets their schedule thanks to the user-friendly and flexible program.
While JET Express is an efficiently run program, there is one “speed bump” of sorts — demand is outpacing supply! There are more requests for rides than the number of volunteer drivers to meet the need. With the hope of recruiting more drivers, JFS staff set out to produce a new driver recruitment video.
“We felt a video would succinctly show how easy it is to volunteer and share how personally gratifying it is to give a ride,”
said JFS Marketing Director Brenda Althouse.
Althouse and JFS Volunteer Director Taly Friedman wanted the video to share the importance of JET Express as well as its positive impact on both the volunteer driver and the rider. They also needed a little creative help.
They found a bit of good fortune in St. Teresa’s Academy junior Amy Schaffer.
“We posted on Facebook that we were looking for a volunteer with video skills to help interview and compile volunteer driver stories,” Althouse said. Amy’s mother was a friend of JFS on Facebook and she shared it with her daughter, who then connected with Friedman.
“I needed service hours for my school and I wanted more multimedia experience under my belt since I want to go into journalism,” Amy said. “It was a perfect fit.”
Friedman and Amy created a video shoot schedule, compiled information for questions and the project was off and running. Interviews were taped in late summer followed by weeks of editing to make the two-minute video come to life. The “big reveal” happened a few weeks ago on the JFS website, jfskc.org, in the agency’s blog section. The JET Express video can also be viewed on JFS’ YouTube channel.
Althouse and Friedman are pleased with the results.
“In less than two minutes, a complete stranger of JET Express can learn about the program, how easy and flexible it is to schedule volunteer rides, and hear personal testimonials from four volunteers,” Althouse said.
Working on the project proved to be quite a balancing act for the busy teen. Among her many activities, Amy is an editor on the school newspaper staff, a member of the school’s varsity dance team as well as teaching dance classes at a local studio. She’s also quite active in other community service endeavors.
“Managing my time was definitely the hardest,” said Amy about her work on the video. “I’m not used to setting deadlines for myself, so this really tested my self-accountability.”
For Amy, working on the video was rewarding.
“This experience ended up being so much more than I expected it to be,” she said. “I had no idea there was such a large group of people in need of car rides, since it’s not something that pops to mind when you hear ‘community service’. And I had no idea that I’d meet a Holocaust survivor in the process.”
JFS is grateful to Amy for lending her time and talent to making the JET video become a reality.
“It’s been a win-win,” Friedman said. “We worked with a talented and energetic teen to produce the video at no cost to JFS, as she was a volunteer. At the same time, Amy was able to hone her interview, filming and editing skills in a real world situation at a local nonprofit and add the completed project to her growing portfolio of photography and video.”
Becoming a JET Express driver is easy, flexible and meaningful. To learn more about how to provide a ride to an older adult through JET Express, call 913-730-1410 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.