CONNECT TO...WHY THE Y?

Engage volunteers Sharon Sonnenschein, Robyn Gottlieb and Nancy Glaser conducting SNAP outreach at a Farmers' Market.

Engage volunteers Sharon Sonnenschein, Robyn Gottlieb and Nancy Glaser conducting SNAP outreach at a Farmers' Market.

“We hope to foster a greater relationship with Engage and let people know more about volunteer opportunities at the Y [YM & YWHA of Washington Heights & Inwood] through Engage,” Deborah Katznelson, Chief Social Services Officer at the Y, told those gathered for an initial meeting there in January. Among those attending was Ron Brayer, an Engage member who lives in the heights. Also in attendance were Susan Kalev, a Y volunteer, and Naomi Marcus, who lives in Riverdale and is interested in Engage but looking for volunteer opportunities closer to where she lives. Rabbi Brian Fink from JCC Manhattan represented Engage in his role as director.

Deborah gave some background on her work at the Y, which is funded by the New York City Department for the Aging. The Y serves a diverse area, including large Russian and Dominican populations, and she hopes to focus on using the skills and interests of the volunteers to meet the needs of the community. She is always looking for volunteers, particularly Russian and Spanish speakers, to help out with entitlement programs, such as Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty’s SNAP program and outreach efforts at local green markets. Deborah said that there are so many programs in need of volunteer assistance that there will surely be opportunities for any interested volunteers.  

Some of the intriguing periodic and ongoing opportunities available include:  

  • Serving as a lobby greeter
  • Reaching out to the elderly by phone to  see how they are doing
  • Delivering meals to people in need prior to holidays
  • Helping to serve meals 
  • Braiding challah dough and talking about Shabbat the third Friday of every month

Do any of these opportunities interest you, or do you want more information? Contact Rabbi Brian Fink at bfink@jccmanhattan.org or 646.505.4408.