Post written by Mike Witt, Volunteer Services and Programs Manager
It has been my pleasure to serve as the Volunteer Services and Programs Manager for over two years. I’ve worked closely with many of you and have to say, it is the most gratifying and rewarding part of my job, which includes wearing several different hats. To me, volunteers are the heartbeat of our community and the source of all the good we do through our Jewish Community Center. You really make a huge difference!
Most of the programs at the Jewish Federation’s Bronfman Family JCC are free of charge, which is why we rely so heavily on our amazing volunteers. Our volunteer opportunities include, but are not limited to: volunteer instructed classes and programs, Schmooze Room Crew, special projects (e.g., IT support, organizing the library, etc.), events assistance, photography, internships, building maintenance and handy jobs, Front Desk coverage, Senior Visitation to the Homebound, Portraits of Survival Docent Led Tours (i.e., volunteer survivor docents who speak and educate groups about their experience with the Holocaust), and Lay Leadership who make very important decisions and take crucial action in support of our mission.
We estimate that each year over 50 regular volunteers and countless others contribute +2,000 hours of service in support of our community efforts. A great example is our Schmooze Room, a weekly free café for seniors, that has been running for about 14 years. Incredibly, with an average of 50 guests per week and 48 Schmooze Rooms per year, the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara via its Jewish Family Service department and volunteer crew have served over 33,000 guests and contributed up to 10,000 volunteer hours!
Our larger events wouldn’t be possible without hundreds of volunteers, including the Santa Barbara Jewish Film Festival each March, the Santa Barbara Jewish Festival each May, and our Super Sunday fundraiser phone-a-thon each fall.
To volunteer is to provide education, nutrition, wellness, social engagement, community support, and friendship to those in need in our community. Volunteerism strengthens the Jewish Federation’s commitment to tzedaka (charity and justice), and furthers our mission of tikkun olam (repairing the world), and kol Y’israel areyvim zeh lazeh (all Israel must care for one another.)
We couldn’t do it without you. Todah rabah! Thank you very much!