You’ve just finished that big assignment, that monthlong project, or you are retired and looking to help others. Long-awaited downtime is yours; you can finally do nothing all day and it is… not as great as you thought it would be. Sure, you don’t miss deadlines, but you miss making contributions.
A crucial component of Judaic teachings is tikkun olam: the idea that acts of kindness and good can repair the world. While repairing the world might take some time, a good place to start is with your own community. One of the best ways to practice tikkun olam and to support your community during hard times like the current Covid-19 pandemic, when staff members are in shorty supply, is through volunteer work.
There are many different ways to volunteer, whether you can assist in-person, cooperate virtually, or donate physical items.
Los Angeles Jewish Home (JHA) has plentiful opportunities and is looking for volunteers right now. JHA offers skilled nursing and residential living for seniors, either temporarily or for those who plan to stay for years.
“Volunteers are a critical part of our operation,” said Stacy Orbach, Director of Volunteers. “We have volunteer opportunities for just about any interest that somebody might have out there in a community.”
JHA recruits volunteers for one-on-one time with residents who might not have family in the area and need socialization. One-on-one volunteers might talk with residents by the campus fountains, take a stroll with residents in wheelchairs, or sit and provide company for nonverbal residents.
Volunteers can also help out in group activities like music, cooking, or delivering books and helping to read to residents with low vision. Mail delivery is another critical role, according to Orbach. These volunteers go room to room to deliver mail, “schmooze” and get to know the residents.
Orbach also shared about a volunteer who has been with JHA for over a decade. “I matched a volunteer with a Holocaust survivor 15 years ago and they’re still working together today. She has become so much more than a volunteer; they’re like family to each other,” Orbach said. “That’s what can happen with volunteers who have become so close and so important in the lives of our residents.”
“It’s amazing to see how our volunteers are doing whatever they can to make those who have had their access limited feel happier,” said Peggy Hines, Director of Communications and Marketing. Whether it’s virtual bingo or talking on the phone, “the volunteers have stayed engaged… an extraordinary effort in an extraordinary time.”
To get involved with JHA, go to lash.org or email stacy.orbach@ jha.org.
Food insecurity is a prevalent issue throughout Los Angeles, and you can aid those in need. If you are seeking a face-toface connection, Jewish Family Service LA needs volunteers at their various food pantries to restock, pack, and hand out food bags to clients. The Van Nuys location needs help Sunday through Friday and the Pico & Robertson location needs help Monday through Thursday.
You can also help Jewish Family Service combat food insecurity by delivering meals to homebound individuals or by accepting intakes at the front desk of the community food and resource program. To get involved with Jewish Family Service LA, fill out the volunteer application at jfsla. com or contact the Director of Volunteers & Training at (323) 556-2928.
The Museum of Tolerance, or MOT, is dedicated to educating its visitors on discrimination throughout history and is looking for volunteers to help foster the “motivational mix of historical discovery and personal empowerment” that it prides itself on. Volunteer to be an MOT “greeter” who guide visitors through various exhibits or assist staff in the gift galleria and bookstore. For a chance to work up close and personal with historic materials, help is needed to catalog and research in the archives and reference library.
If you want to engage the thousands of students who visit MOT every year, volunteer as a museum docent or tour guide.
For more information, visit museumoftolerance.com/get-involved or call the museum at (310) 772-2505.
If you are in the San Fernando Valley, Valley Beth Shalom synagogue has partnered with some non-profit organizations and can help facilitate volunteer opportunities, like the West Valley Food Pantry in Woodland Hills. West Valley Food Pantry is in urgent need of support, as they now serve three to four times the amount of families than they did before the Covid-19 pandemic.
Helpers are needed to assist with bagging food, unloading deliveries, and distributing food to clients. West Valley Food Pantry has transitioned into a drive-through car service for safety, although clients without a car may use the walk-up window. Visit www. westvalleyfoodpantry.org to get involved.
Valley Beth Shalom has also partnered with PATH, an organization dedicated to supporting homeless individuals. PATH helps people find permanent housing, provides medical and mental healthcare, and offers employment training.
PATH has opportunities for group volunteering; grab two friends to help cook meals for veterans in West LA. All interested persons can visit PATHvolunteers@epath.org.
If you’re a home-baker, or it recently became your quarantine hobby, For Goodness Cakes needs your skills. This nonprofit organization recruits volunteers. All you need is access to the internet, baking supplies, and a mode of transportation.
Volunteers take the online orientation, choose a commission from the task calendar, bake away, and then deliver your cake to nearby agency staff. If you’re unable to deliver the cake yourself, someone else may deliver the cake for you.
According to their website, For Goodness Cakes does not discriminate on the basis of religion, race, sex, physical or mental ability; anyone is welcome to volunteer. Every child deserves to feel loved on their special day and you can help them celebrate. Go to forgoodnesscakes.org/volunteer for more information.
Another at-home opportunity is with, Learn To Be, which provides free virtual tutoring for children from underserved communities. Students work with the same tutor in order to create trust and enhance their individual skills. Learn To Be has supported 3,500 students, with an average test score increase of 15.8% and a GPA increase of 1.6, according to their website.
Learn To Be specifies recent retirees on their list of ideal candidates. Join their community of tutors including NASA scientists, engineers, writers, and historians. If you want to make an impact on a young student’s life, visit learntobe.org/apply. The National Council of Jewish Women is looking for volunteers to help their Advocacy and Community Organizing, Leadership and Board Roles. They also have single-day volunteering needs. To get involved and help advance economic justice and equity for women visit ncjwla.org/volunteer or call (323) 651-2930.
The opportunities listed are just a few of the many available for much needed help throughout our community.