Letters to the editor May 2
At Jewish Family & Children’s Service, volunteers are vital to our mission to provide services for individuals and families throughout our community.
As a nonprofit social service agency, JF&CS provides a wide range of human services to more than 8,000 people each year, who are struggling with overwhelming life cycle transitions or challenges, and have turned to us for help.
To meet their needs, we rely on the generosity of our community: our funding partners, our donors and our precious volunteers.
Last week marked National Volunteer Week, and while we appreciate our many dedicated volunteers every day of the year, during this special time of recognition, we would like to thank those who seek out impactful ways to engage in our community for social good, and who have chosen JF&CS as a vehicle for their volunteerism. Hundreds of volunteers give thousands of hours to multiple JF&CS programs, and we simply would not have the same reach and impact without them.
At the Squirrel Hill Community Food Pantry, more than 300 volunteers donate their time to tasks such as sorting donations, stocking shelves, unloading delivery trucks, packing bags and delivering groceries to homebound clients, assisting clients with shopping and checkout and more. In the last year alone, volunteers contributed 4,311 hours helping the food-insecure in our community.
In JF&CS’s refugee services department, 93 volunteers donated a total of 555 hours, providing weekly in-home visits to help new arrivals with learning English, understanding their mail and bill-paying, as well as helping refugee children with homework. In our immigration legal services department, volunteer attorneys, paralegals, law students and community members assist our Board of Immigration Appeals Accredited Representatives and immigration attorneys to help foreign-born residents who can’t afford a private attorney with immigration-related legal matters. In the past year, 18 volunteers and interns have donated hundreds of hours to tasks including helping with data processing, representing clients in complicated asylum claims and teaching citizenship preparedness classes.
And no acknowledgement of JF&CS volunteers would be complete without a tremendous thank you to our board of directors, who donate countless hours to monitor and strengthen programs and services.
Thank you to the volunteers and community members who have chosen JF&CS as the vehicle through which you make a difference. We couldn’t possibly touch as many lives as we do without your time, talents and generosity.
(The author is president & CEO of the Jewish Family & Children’s Service.)
A new model
Regarding your April 18 story, “Brain Drain: Israel Working to find solution to retain best and brightest,” there is another part to the story your readers might find interesting.
“Start-Up Nation,” published in 2009 by Dan Senior and Saul Singer, addressed this issue: “While many countries, including Israel, bemoan the fact that some of their brightest academics and entrepreneurs go abroad, people like Michael Loar show that the ‘brain drain’ is not a one-way street. In fact, international migration researchers are increasingly noting a phenomenon they call ‘brain circulation,’ whereby talented people leave, settle down abroad, and then return to their home countries, and yet are not fully ‘lost’ to either place. … In a study issued by the World Bank, ‘Israel enjoyed investment or technology booms and these booms are linked by … expatriate leadership.
“Michael Laor at Cisco and Dov Frohman at Intel were classic new argonauts. Even while gaining knowledge and status within their major international companies, they always intended to return to Israel. When they did, they not only became catalysts for Israel’s technological development but founded Israeli operations that provided critical breakthroughs for the companies they worked for.”
This model of Israelis going abroad and returning to Israel is one important part of the innovation ecosystem linking Israel and the Diaspora. Another Diaspora network is a non-Israeli Jewish
(The author is executive director of the Zionist Organization of America-Pittsburgh District.)