Cathy Weiss — Homelessness Prevention Program
DOROT volunteer since: November 2000
How did you get involved with DOROT?
A friend of mine who participated in Holiday Package Deliveries told me about DOROT. I knew I wanted to do some type of volunteer work, but I wasn’t sure what.
I was initially interested in the Friendly Visiting program and during my volunteer interview process, the social worker mentioned that there was a need for a volunteer at DOROT’s Homelessness Prevention Program (HPP).
I met with Elazar, Associate Director of the HPP, and he shared with me the challenges of this type of volunteer role. The more he described the work they do, helping those who are about to become homeless, or just became homeless, the more I wanted to participate. And the rest is history.
What type of volunteer activities do you do?
I run the Tuesday night dinners at the HPP, a position I have held for over 10 years now. I prepare and serve dinner as well as socialize with the seniors. It’s the wonderful interaction we have that makes the evenings so special. I have also been a Friendly Visitor over the years, bonding with wonderful women I have learned so much from.
In what ways has your DOROT volunteer experience impacted your life?
DOROT provides a very personal, one–on–one experience. I feel so connected to these people — people who I would have never had the opportunity to connect with. I have learned to appreciate everyone for their unique specialness. I feel who they are and what they are about. Every person has something to share and offer.
At DOROT it’s not only about giving of your time and money, it lets me give of myself.
What motivates you to continue volunteering at DOROT?
It’s such a rewarding experience. Sometimes by the end of the day, I am so tired, I wonder if I will be able to meet the challenge at the HPP. But sure enough, by the time I leave the HPP, I feel energized and revitalized. I get so much from these shared evenings together that I know when I leave DOROT I will feel great.
Most memorable volunteer moment?
I was brought to tears by a woman who I met on the day she arrived at DOROT. I spoke to her in Spanish, her native language, and I even knew of her hometown. She had been living on the street when she heard of DOROT.
For the first time in so long, she felt safe, respected and acknowledged. She hugged me and said “thank you” with a tear in her eye. I knew I made a difference in her life.
What would you want other volunteers to know about volunteering at DOROT?
Every program is a one–on–one experience where you get the reward directly.
Whatever you do is so personal and connected. DOROT is the only volunteer organization where I have felt that every program is so personal and thereby so rewarding. I thank G–d for DOROT; for what it gives to so many seniors, but also, for what it gives me.
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