Federation pays tribute to volunteers at annual meeting

Federation pays tribute to volunteers at annual meeting

Volunteers took center stage at the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s annual meeting, Wednesday night.

With the theme of a Hollywood premiere  — they were giving out popcorn and candy in the foyer and staff members were dressed as ticket takers — volunteers of the past year were saluted in a slideshow edited to resemble a silent movie.

Judy Wein received the 2012 Gerald S. Ostrow Volunteer of the Year Award.  

And the Federation used the meeting to roll out its newest program, the Jewish Federation Volunteer Center, A one-stop online shopping center to match Jewish organizations seeking volunteers and individuals looking for opportunities.

Judy Kanal was introduced as the center’s new chair. Federation staffers also passed out ticket stubs with the center’s new web address — jfedvolunteer.org.

As of Thursday, there were already volunteer opportunities posted on the website for Anathan House, BBYO and the Squirrel Hill Health Center. The center staff was also tweeting about volunteer ideas.

“We’ll make the connections,” Federation Chair Lou Plung said of the volunteer center. “It’s a way to create deliberate, inspirational moments.”

In accepting her award, Wein, who also introduced this year’s lineup of community volunteers, described volunteerism as a rewarding experience.

“I receive far more than I give,” she said. “I think that’s the story of volunteerism.”

The volunteer center wasn’t the only new program the Federation announced. It is also starting Community Scorecard, a project to measure the impact of Federation activity in the community. Headed by Eileen Lane, Community Scorecard is still a work in progress, Plung said, as “yardsticks” by which impact will be measured are still being worked out.

For instance, reducing hunger could be a yardstick, or increasing teen affiliation, etc.

“It’s a significant way to impact the community,” Plung said.

Turning to fundraising, Plung lauded Community Campaign chairs Jimmy Wagner and David Sufrin for heading an effort that raised a record $13 million this past year, and Community Foundation Chair Billy Rudolph, whose trusts raised $17 million.

He thanked the Jewish Healthcare Foundation for its $900,000 contribution and praised the Centennial Fund for a Jewish Future for garnering $17.5 million.

But he particularly noted the total funds that were raised through all sources — $34.5 million. “It is that amount that benefits Jewish Pittsburgh,” he said.

Rudolph, a past Federation chair, also accepted this year’s Emanuel Spector Memorial Award, the highest honor the Federation gives. He used the opportunity to thank the Federation’s professional staff, noting that he hosted them over Sukkot in his family’s sukka.

And Hanna Steiner, director of Riverview Towers, accepted the Doris and Leonard H. Rudolph Jewish Communal Professional Award.  Echoing the volunteer tributes, she said, “We should all be inspired to be as involved in community tzedaka programs as the Rudolph family.”

The video of thus summer’s Mega Mission to Israel, was played for the packed hall at the Jewish Community Center. Plung said the mission will yield dividends to the community, in the form of new ideas and inspired people, for “decades to come.”

The chairs of the Mega Mission were Meryl and David Ainsman,
Jennifer and Alan Friedman,
Laurie and Geoffrey Gerber,
Elaine and Carl Krasik,
Stanley Ruskin
and Judy and Rocky Wein.

The Federation also paid tribute to the Centennial Year co-chairs, Sandy and Edgar Snyder and Cindy and David Shapira.

In his president’s address, Jeffrey Finkelstein announced that the Federation would be named one of the best places in the area to work in two weeks by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

He said the Federation is giving more unrestricted dollars to its agencies than they receive from any other source. It is insuring more than 900 Jewish community employees — at a cost below the national average of rate increases — through its health plan, and is sending college students to Israel for six-week internships through its new Onward Israel program.

“We’re your cineplex,” Finkestein said, touching on the evening’s movie theme. “A lot is going on in our organization.”

(Lee Chottiner can be reached at leec@thejewishchronicle.net.)



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