Spring Into Volunteering with Rachael Tillery


Rachael Tillery, a senior financial analyst with Brown Advisory, was first introduced to Jewish Volunteer Connection (JVC) last year when she wanted to do something about food insecurity.

“Volunteering was difficult,” Rachael says, looking back at when the pandemic hit. “When everything closed down, my friends and I were struggling to find ways we could help. I reached out to different organizations, but the pandemic made finding things challenging. That’s how I discovered JVC.”

Rachael, and eight of her friends, took part in JVC’s Casserole Challenge, a yearly initiative in November. Together they donated casseroles to support families and individuals in need. While it was meant to be a one-time experience at first, Rachael jumped at the opportunity to take things further when she was approached by a JVC staff member about becoming a VolunTeam leader.

“We were excited to take our group to the next level.”

As a VolunTeam leader, Rachael coordinates her own group of volunteers. It’s her job to find opportunities that are meaningful to them. JVC works with Rachael and leverages its partnerships with other organizations to find the perfect match. This unique program offers a variety of benefits, including working around busy schedules – something that often keeps people from volunteering long-term.

The team’s first official event was with Mitzvah Day, part of JVC’s Annual Days of Service, this last December. On Christmas Eve, Rachael and her team donated 30 casseroles. And while the group only recently formed, it is already picking up steam.

“We thought we would meet up once a quarter, but now we meet monthly. We’ve also begun partnering with an organization in West Baltimore.”

Over at Brown Advisory Rachael partners with JVC in another capacity.

“Shortly after I started the VolunTeam, I learned about Bunches of Lunches,” Rachael says. “That’s how I got the opportunity to help lead the effort with our Baltimore Branch.”

JVC’s Bunches of Lunches program donates meals to organizations that serve individuals without reliable access to food. Having started last year, the program has since distributed over 50,000 meals and counting.

It’s an accomplishment that is possible, in part, due to the relationships JVC forms with businesses and other organizations. These businesses have employees looking for ways to give back to their community, and JVC provides the opportunities.

Over at Brown Advisory, Rachael works with JVC to coordinate Bunches of Lunches events for Brown’s employees. In a way, it’s a role quite similar to her role as a VolunTeam leader.

One of the biggest benefits to the partnership, Rachael adds, is that it expands the impact JVC can have on the community. This is especially true during religious holidays when many of JVC’s professional staff and volunteers are taking time to spend with friends and family.

It’s in these moments, Rachael says, that companies like Brown can step in. Rachael points to when her branch collected and delivered lunches this last Passover.

“We were able to provide over 300 lunches. It was nice knowing we could lend a hand and help continue the effort in that capacity.”

For Rachael, the relationship between Brown Advisory and JVC touches on her personal experiences as well. Being raised Catholic, Rachael describes going to church every Sunday with her mother. It was then Rachael first became interested in volunteering, as her family often helped out at local soup kitchens.

Unfortunately, Rachael’s mother passed away when she was fourteen. While Rachael says she no longer practices any religion today, some of those values she learned from her mother have stayed with her years later. She sees those same values in organizations like Brown Advisory and JVC.

“Look at JVC’s Mitzvah Day, which falls on Christmas Eve,” she adds. “It may not be a Jewish holiday, but it’s obviously something that’s very important to JVC and to several people in the community.”

“It’s also very important to me,” she concludes. “There are commonalities that tie back to what I learned from my childhood. Everything stems from that, that relationship building. Some people call it ‘loving thy neighbor,’ some people call it ‘helping strangers.’ Whatever you want to call it, it’s a part of who I am.”

Looking to volunteer? Learn more about these exciting opportunities from JVC!

See what volunteer opportunities are available through The Associated.


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