Shira Cohen — Young Professionals Leadership Circle
How long have you been a DOROT volunteer?
Five amazing years.
How did you get involved with DOROT?
I came back from a post–Birthright alumni trip to Poland, and I was looking for an opportunity to volunteer. I recieved an email from the Jewish Enrichment Center asking if I’d be interested in visiting with a homebound Holocast survivor. At first, this opportunity was only a six visit commitment, but that quickly turned into an on going five year friendship!
What type of volunteer activities do you do at DOROT?
I started out doing homebound visits with Mrs. S about one to two times a month. I then was asked to help form the Young Professionals Leadership Circle to help encourage people in their 20’s & 30’s to get involved in DOROT. Throughout the years we have done many amazing activities linking Young Professionals and seniors, including: cookie baking, game day, dance programs, Package Deliveries, and much more. I’m excited for the new activities that are to come in 2014.
In what ways has your DOROT volunteer experience impacted your life?
When I first started volunteering with DOROT, I wanted to help by giving back and impacting someone else’s life. I visited my homebound senior once to twice a month to talk, tell stories, and bake together. From the start she made me feel like part of her family, introducing me to her daughter, son, and granddaughter. I really felt like she counted on my visits. We both valued that time together, and when it came time to leave we both had smiles on our faces. We promised each other another visit very soon. In 2011, I lost my last living grandparent. I was devastated. Ever since then I felt like the role in our friendship has reversed, and now I count on her. Whenever I have news or pictures that I used to be eager to tell/show my Grandpa, she is so excited to hear the news. She listens, asks to see pictures of my family, and of course feeds me lots of Jewish apple cake as if I was her own grandchild. Every visit it amazes me how much we both rely on each other, and I know we will both cherish this friendship forever.
What motivates you to continue volunteering at DOROT?
Every time I visit Mrs. S, and I’m greeted with “Shira, where have you been?” Regardless if its been 2 minutes, 2 weeks, or 2 months, I know she’s always eager to spend time together because “it’s just been too long!” I know that from the time I leave until the next time I see her, we both look forward to our time together.
Most memorable volunteer moment:
When volunteering this year at the Thanksgiving Banquet I saw a senior that I recognized from past Young Professionals Leadership Circle events. I went up to her and said hello, and how nice it was to see her again. The smile on her face went from ear to ear, and she replied, “It’s so nice of you to remember me. It means the world to me.” We then went on to talk about what was going on in her life, and she informed me that she was moving out of the state to be closer to family. While talking, the photographer came by. I flagged him down to snap a picture of the two of us. At the end of the banquet I went to say goodbye, and she said “Its so sad that I’ll be moving, but don’t worry — I requested to the Executive Director of DOROT that I get a printed picture of you and I together!”
What would you want other volunteers to know about volunteering at DOROT?
I love DOROT because there are no judgements made about time commitments. No matter how much or how little you volunteer, if once a week or once a year, your time is valued and will always be well used. The entire staff is passionate about what they do, and do a wonderful job connecting with volunteers and seniors needs.
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