For more than three decades, Susan Warshawsky Terman had a successful career working with several companies in human pharmaceuticals as well as animal pharma and telecommunications. However, in 2021, Terman was one of 350 co-workers who lost their jobs to corporate expense reductions. Terman took it in stride and reached out to Jewish Family Services to give back to the community.
“After working for 37 years full-time, I felt it was time to target my time and efforts toward helping others in our community,” Terman said. “Since I especially enjoy assisting and chatting with ‘seniors’ in our community, volunteering for Jet Express was a perfect fit.”
JFS salutes Terman as its Volunteer of the Month, recognizing her great work on the agency’s behalf.
“Since her first ride in December of 2021, Susan has provided dozens of rides for 17 different clients,” said Rachel Ohlhausen, JFS Director of Program Operations. “During a time where our volunteer driver pool was low, Susan’s individual impact has been greatly felt by our riders and staff. She is a huge part of the Kansas City community support to help individuals age in their own home.”
Her career brought Terman to Kansas City from Cincinnati following the merger of her company at the time – Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals with Marion Labs. Now an Overland Park resident, Terman raised her family here and calls the Kansas City Metro and its Jewish community “home”. Now Terman is giving back in a big way, driving an average of three days a week for the JET Express program.
“In the last 11 months, I have driven nearly 2,500 miles and recently hit 100 trips,” Terman said proudly. “I assist my riders with their seat belts when needed since as I tell them, ‘I’m driving precious cargo – so buckle up!’ Beyond just driving my riders to and from their destinations, I have stopped at pharmacies, grocery stores, mailboxes, dry cleaners, etc. either while I am waiting for them or after I pick them up from their appointments. We’ve even stopped at Sonics to pick up lunch or hot fudge sundaes to put in their freezer,” she said.
Terman goes that extra mile for her JET Express riders, occasionally bringing in their trash cans and recycling bins from the curb. She loves everything about being a JET Express volunteer driver.
“I feel that it is a privilege to be entrusted to drive those who are no longer able to drive themselves to doctor appointments, salons, treatments, community activities, and to the J to spend time at the Heritage Center or exercise,” she said.
Terman delivers more than just a ride when she volunteers with JET Express.
“It’s my goal for my riders to be happier when their ride is over than when I pick them up,” Terman said. “I enjoy bringing a smile to my rider’s face and better yet, getting them to laugh all while learning more about them, especially their backgrounds, needs and concerns.”
While Terman has been a JET Express volunteer driver for less than two years, she has many stories involving her riders, including a kiss on the hand from one of her favorite riders.
“Almost every ride is my favorite,” she said. “I have driven several Holocaust survivors and even enjoyed tea afterwards with one survivor, Gilta, learning more about her life experiences.”
Terman said several regular riders have become friends, as well. Terman knows that the conversations she has with her riders are important.
“I hope my listening brings my riders comfort as they have provided me with such incredible words of wisdom and friendship, especially Doris and Nadine. I feel that I get as much, if not more out of volunteering, than they get in securing needed transportation,” she said.
Volunteering for JET Express had driven home how difficult it is to ask for help, Terman said.
Terman encourages others to consider volunteering for JET Express or any other program with JFS.
“Even if you only have a few hours to volunteer once or twice a month, once a quarter or once a year, volunteer for JFS,” she said. Even assisting in a small way, you are able to very positively impact so many in need within our community. Remember, it takes a village!”
JFS is grateful for Terman’s help.
“The Susans of the world are the neighbors we want to have and the volunteers we are so grateful and thankful for,” Ohlhausen said.
JFS has a variety of volunteer opportunities available. If you would like to join JFS as a volunteer, please email email@example.com or check out the web site at www.jfskc.org/volunteer for the latest opportunities.