Students enrich their summer as volunteers with the Jewish Pavilion


Jewish Pavilion volunteers Alexandra George (l) and Jennifer Simon visited with Helen Hosid at Village on the Green Heath Center. 

When Lake Brantley High School incoming juniors Jennifer Simon and Alexandra George were looking for a place to volunteer this summer to fulfill the Bright Futures scholarship requirement of 100 hours of community service, their Internet search of local organizations brought them to The Jewish Pavilion.

They knew it would be a perfect fit, Simon said. Both of them have grandparents that they enjoy spending time with, and they were impressed with the mission of the organization and wanted to help.

"I didn't know it existed, but now since we do I think it is a great opportunity to spread the word about the organization," said Simon.

The pair have been best friends for about 3 years. An important part of their contribution as volunteers has been visiting elderly Jewish residents of local nursing or rehabilitation facilities. They've played cards and had an ice cream social at Savannah Court and have made individual visits at Village on the Green's Health Center.

And they've made some very friendly connections with the seniors they've met. "It's so nice to see them smiling, and to just be there, and make their day," said Simon.

George was a little nervous just before their first visit. "I didn't know what to expect," she said. But that didn't last long, because everyone they've met has been so happy to see them.

"It's such a pleasure to have the girls around here," said Nanette Tucker when they returned to visit her at Village on the Green recently. With a day that's filled with physical therapy and other appointments for her care, she said, it's a welcome change to just make time to sit and chat.

Back at The Jewish Pavilion's offices, George and Simon have been answering phones, editing and organizing digital photographs, updating contacts, posting on social media, and helping with other administrative projects.

They also made centerpieces for an upcoming Rosh Hashanah breakfast that The Jewish Pavilion is sponsoring at the Maitland Chamber of Commerce. "We're really excited, because they look so nice," said George.

With planning in full swing for The Jewish Pavilion's October 28th Gems and Jeans Gala, which will celebrate the organization's milestone 18th anniversary, George and Simon have visited local businesses that are potential donors for the silent auction and so far have been successful with securing donations of items from First Watch, Broadway Pizza, and Metro Diner.

"It has been wonderful having Jennifer and Alexandra volunteering with us," said Nancy Ludin, executive director of The Jewish Pavilion. "Not only have they helped out so much around the office, but we were also really lucky to have teens who have been so great with visiting our seniors. They really are able to develop a rapport."

For the two 16-year-olds, this summer of volunteering with The Jewish Pavilion has given them a host of valuable experiences in working for a nonprofit organization that will help them in their school and extracurricular activities and beyond college to their first jobs.

But it is the experience of connecting and forming relationships with seniors that will remain their fondest memories of this summer.

Jerry, a resident at Savannah Court, was happy to see them during a recent visit. As they were preparing to leave, she called out, "Love you, girls! Can't wait until you come back!"


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