Volunteering Through the
Eyes of a Retiree

By Cindy Zoines

Today I popped into the main office of Miguel’s high school to request an early dismissal for him. I was bringing him to his sixth and final appointment with an angel… a pro-bono dentist who treated and saved this 16 year old, his teeth and his smile.

My experience helping newly arrived individuals and families began when I was the assistant director of volunteer services with Jewish Family Services (now Jewish Community Services). At the time we were setting up households and arranging transportation through Mitzvah Mobility for Russian refugees.

Now, 35 years later, as a retiree, I volunteer to provide a more direct service to a family from Guatemala seeking asylum. I became involved after receiving an email from the team at Jewish Volunteer Connection (JVC), who had been asked to solicit Spanish speaking volunteers to assist with the many tasks of welcoming and offering support to families fleeing from the horrors of their native homes and their experiences at the border.

There are so many unmet needs for my assigned family, so I work in a small team with the backing of Immigrant Families Together, a foundation dedicated to reuniting and supporting immigrant families separated at the US/Mexico border.

I could write pages on the many ways we use our experiences, talents and connections to improve the quality of life for these folks who arrive with the clothes on their backs and nothing more. What could be more gratifying than delivering food to a hungry family, accessing what is needed to alleviate the pain of an earache, working with teachers in the children’s schools to facilitate communication and helping navigate the burdensome and frustrating immigration process?

My transition from work to retirement was not easy. In my case, I needed to redefine my identity, find purpose, get to a gym and clean out the house. Ugh for the last two.

While pursuing my volunteer interests, thanks to JVC, you might find me tutoring with Reading Partners, doing administrative work at Super Kids Camp or in the JVC office, shopping for The Market at Weinberg Village and participating in other long term, short term and one-time projects. Flexibility is crucial when you still want to meet up with friends and family, travel, get your dose of Netflix and follow other passions.

The beauty of volunteering for me is the luxury of growing and learning, meeting new and interesting people and picking and choosing my next opportunity as I peruse the variety of options on the JVC website.

I know this sounds trite, but I am truly honored and grateful to have the privilege of spending this chapter of my life doing what feels so right and so good.

My new identity…VOLUNTEER DO-GOODER and I couldn’t be happier!

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