Moving Forward Together

Volunteer Awards 2020

JFS Volunteers of the year banner

Jewish Family Service of San Diego’s Jack and Loraine Stern Awards are presented annually to volunteers who make a significant contribution to JFS and the communities we serve. This award was created in honor of former JFS board member, Jack Stern, who went above and beyond his duties. He served as President of the Board in 1986, and throughout the many years that followed, he never felt there was a volunteer activity below his reach. He got his hands dirty—literally. Jack was instrumental in starting the car donation program that raises funds for JFS, which evolved into Charitable Adult Rides & Services (CARS). He personally picked up the donated cars, washed them, changed the oil, and parked the vehicles outside his house to sell. It was Jack’s dream to make JFS successful in serving the community to the best of its abilities. Loraine, his wife, presented these awards in her husband’s memory until her passing in 2017.

At JFS, we feel strongly that volunteers help make our work possible and deserve to be celebrated. Although we couldn’t be together in-person to present the 2020 awards, we were able to meet virtually with each volunteer who was being honored. This was our opportunity to share our gratitude and learn more about what motivates them to volunteer.
Check out the videos below.

Thank you to all 1,000+ of our volunteers who make our work possible. If you’d like to volunteer with JFS, please click here.

Ron Zeichick

Jack and Loraine Stern Volunteer of the Year

As a Bikkur Holim Friendly Visitor volunteer, Ron brings friendship and companionship to older adults experiencing isolation. Prior to COVID, Ron was known to go above the call of duty by welcoming his matches into his home and treating them like family. He can’t wait to get back to these visits once it is safe to do so again.

Simone Abelsohn

Mentor of the Year

For the past six years, Simone has served as a Jewish Big Pal, mentoring her Little Pal into developing a positive self-image, new behaviors, coping skills, and seeing her Jewish identity as a strength. Simone’s care and devotion has made a deep and profound impact on the life of her mentee.

Jerry Calandro

Driver of the Year

As an On The Go volunteer driver, Jerry brings dignity and independence into the lives of older adults who no longer drive by providing them with rides to medical appointments, grocery shopping, classes, and more. Jerry started driving for On The Go in 2011 and has provided over 700 rides to older adults.

Carly Feuerstein

Dinner Host of the Year

As a Safe Parking Program Dinner Host, Carly donates nutritious meals to individuals and families living in their vehicles facing food insecurity. By maximizing her own network of family, friends and colleagues since March of this year, Carly raised enough funds to contribute over 11,000 meals to our most vulnerable neighbors during this pandemic, while supporting local restaurants who have also been impacted by COVID-19.

Nancy Francis

Shelter Volunteer of the Year

As a Migrant Shelter volunteer, Nancy assisted individuals and families seeking asylum in the United States by driving them to the airport to reunite with their sponsors throughout the country. Nancy brought a smile to each volunteer shift that she worked, even though most of her shifts started at 4:00AM. With Nancy’s support, we were able to help thousands of families get to their destination with comfort, safety, and ease.

Sharon Goda

Office Volunteer of the Year

As an Administrative volunteer, Sharon supports our Patient Advocacy team, Development team, and Volunteer Engagement teams with data entry, special projects, and other vital office tasks. Sharon is incredibly vital to creating connections between departments, advocating for our community, and carrying the mission of Jewish Family Service of San Diego.

Rita-Maria Kafalas-May

Hand Up Food Pantry Volunteer of the Year

As a Hand Up Food Pantry volunteer, Rita sorts, prepares, and distributes hundreds of boxes of food to clients facing food insecurity each week. Her kind heart brings an unparalleled warmth to every volunteer shift and her eagerness to help is truly endless.

Ruth Kaplan

Immigration/Refugee Volunteer of the Year

As a Refugee Resettlement Friendly Match volunteer, Ruth befriends and mentors newly arrived refugee families by providing companionship and general acculturation support as they adapt to life in the U.S. Ruth has remained dedicated to ensuring that the Friendly Match families she works with have the support they need. She also continuously remains an advocate for refugee and asylee populations.

Sadie Smith

Youth Volunteer of the Year

As a JFS Teen Leader, Sadie served on the Executive Leadership Board and consistently demonstrated her passion to serve those in need with a curiosity to learn more about the social complexities that impact them. During the current pandemic, Sadie collected over 3,000 pounds of food for the Hand Up Food Pantry with the support of her family, friends, and local community, and continues to find ways to support the San Diego community.

Team Rubicon

Emergency Response Management Team of the Year

From the onset of the current pandemic, Team Rubicon’s experience with managing an emergency response volunteer base created the structure and dedication JFS needed to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the four months that this emergency response group partnered with us, dedicated volunteers helped extend our reach to deliver 400,000 meals to vulnerable members of our community.