BY DEBORAH MOON
A volunteer match program is reaping big rewards for both recipients and volunteers.
“It was completely rewarding to know something as small as a grocery shopping trip, which took me less than 2 hours, was able to make a difference for her that will last her two weeks,” says volunteer Sami Oberlander.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Portland developed the communitywide resource to match volunteers wtih those in need of assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As of April 26, hundreds of volunteers have made reassurance calls to more than 1,700 households with seniors, made masks for health care workers and nursing home residents, or gone shopping to purchase groceries and pick-up prescriptions for those unable to leave their home.
Sami was matched with a woman with diabetes and asthma who was not able to leave her home to shop during the pandemic. The woman was also referred to the JFCS Emergency Aid program, which gave her three $75 gift cards to New Seasons; the cards were part of a donation to JFGP, which distributed the cards to JFCS and synagogues to be given to those in need during this crisis.
“I phoned her and we had a nice long chat,” says Sami. “She was very surprised by the generosity (of the gift cards). The next day she made up a list. … She opened the door, we were both wearing our masks, and we chatted from a distance of 10 to 12 feet. We talked about her Passover and how grateful she was Federation could do this for her.”
In addition to the ground meat and produce the woman requested, Sami bought her a candy bar out of her own money, “so she would have something sweet.”
Sami wore gloves and delivered them to a table the woman had set outside her door. She gave the woman her phone number and also called her to set up a second shopping trip; the woman still has two gift cards for shopping.
To ask for assistance or to volunteer, visit jewishportland.org/jewish-portland-together. For questions, call 503-245-6219 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.