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DOROT Westchester


Silverstein Family - Family and Youth Services

How long have you been a DOROT volunteer?

Our family started visiting a couple through the Chanukah Package Delivery program nearly 10 years ago (it was before our youngest was born, and she’s almost 9!)

How did you get involved with DOROT?

We heard about the Chanukah visiting program and thought it sounded terrific. Chanukah is eight nights, and I didn’t want my children to have an expectation of a gift every night. That’s not what the holiday is about. So, I decided one night we would do a DOROT visit, one night we would bake and give cookies to neighbors, one night we would wrap gifts for kids in shelters, etc. The Chanukah visit became a treasured tradition and my kids ask every year when we are going to visit our seniors. For the first 7 or 8 years we visited Holocaust survivors Mr. and Mrs. S on the Upper East Side. It was an amazing experience. Mrs. S always wore the same pink sweater, she made us sponge cake and latkes, she buzzed around visiting and welcoming and serving, despite being frail and elderly. Mr. S had had a stroke and was in a chair, non-communicative, but always brightened in the presence of the kids. We met their daughter and her family (who also lived in the building). A photo of our son as a toddler, decked out in Purim costume, was proudly displayed in their dining room. We were stunned and heartbroken when Mrs. S passed away a few years ago. We have visited different seniors for the last two years.

What type of volunteer activities do you do at DOROT?

Our family participates in the Chanukah Package Delivery every year, and sometimes Passover and other package deliveries too. My children attend Rodeph Sholom School, which partners with DOROT on a variety of activities and programs. We also work with DOROT through Mitzvah Day at Congregation Rodeph Sholom. I promote DOROT activities nearly every month on the free email distribution I coordinate. Doing Good Together NYC provides a free monthly listing of family-friendly volunteer opportunities for New York families. We are in our third year in New York City and have nearly 1500 subscribers.

In what ways has your DOROT volunteer experience impacted your life?

DOROT has provided my family with countless opportunities to visit and learn from the amazing seniors who live in our community. These men and women survived the Holocaust, or fought in WWII for our country, or were performers on Broadway and vaudeville. Every time we do a visit, my kids learn something and feel great about brightening a lonely seniors’ day. DOROT programming is meaningful and exceptionally well organized. It is a complete pleasure to volunteer through DOROT, and the impact on our community is real. DOROT changes the lives of seniors in New York City, and has provided my kids with the understanding that their efforts, time, commitment and kindness can and do make a difference in the lives of others. This is an invaluable gift, to my family and to the entire community.

What motivates you to continue volunteering at DOROT?

When my children ask which night we’ll be doing our DOROT Chanukah visit, or remember fondly the many Chanukah evenings we spent with Mr. and Mrs. S, I am reminded that every effort we make, through DOROT and other organizations, is making a positive impact on the character and values my children will carry with them into adulthood. DOROT is one of my partners in raising kind, compassionate citizens of the world.

Most memorable volunteer moment:

Probably one of our most memorable moments was when we went to visit Mr. and Mrs. S one year at Chanukah and they were hosting a small family Chanukah party at the same time. We were invited into their family celebration, as members of their family, and were so touched and moved to meet their children and grandchildren whom we had heard so much about over the years. The Chanukah Package Delivery had already become a true holiday tradition for us, and the best way to ensure that service is making an impact on kids is to combine service with ongoing, meaningful family traditions.

What would you want other volunteers to know about volunteering at DOROT?

It is easy, well-organized, gratifying, fun. You will be greeted warmly and appreciated deeply at DOROT. Even the youngest children are not just allowed, they are welcomed with open arms, because DOROT understands the importance of intergenerational service, and knows that even very young kids can make a difference.

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