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November 22, 2002 - Image 66

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-11-22

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Never Too Late

Every Tuesday, you'll find Magda Raimi of Oak Park — a
month shy of her 100th birthday — at her volunteer job for
Meals on Wheels at the Prentis Jewish Apartments in Oak Park.
In her free time at her apartment, she arranges bags for future
packing. Raimi left Hungary and moved first to Brazil and then
the United States with her husband and son in the 1930s.
She was a baby-sitter for two families when she first arrived,
"and now they're sitting me." She is referring to two women,
Cheryl Guyer of Huntington Woods and Sharon Alterman of
Franklin, who still keep in touch with Raimi, and have
planned a special 100th birthday party for her Dec. 22.
Everyone in her apartment building is invited.
Andrea Asarch, director of Meals On Wheels, says that Raimi
started volunteering for the program when it first opened.
One of Raimi's friends, Myrna Salzman, 61, of West
Bloomfield, says, "Every Tuesday, Magda comes down beauti-
fully dressed and coiffed; she's very elegant all the time." ❑

SIGN OF THE TIMES from page 65

These limited volunteer opportunities can lead to
more, especially if the volunteers are treated right,
Grossman says. "They'll come back and bring a friend."
In fact, the number of volunteers is up, but the
time they give per week is lessening. So says policy
studies director Dr. Amy Sales, senior research asso-
ciate at the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies
at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass. She stud-
ies the effects of changing volunteer habits on the
Jewish community.
"We're a volunteering nation; volunteerism was
developed in the United States," Sales says, and quotes
numbers from the 2001 study Giving and Volunteering
in the United States, sponsored by Independent Sector,
a coalition of leading nonprofits, foundations and cor-
porations. The study is at www.indepsec.org .
"Fifty-five percent of American adults volunteer
every year," Dr. Sales says. "But as a Jew, is that good
enough? Growing up, I learned that everyone should
give ... so, do we look at these figures as Americans or
as Jews? And if the Jewish community has set a high-
er standard, I don't know if we meet it."
She adds that when the recent National Jewish
Population Study is fully released, the Jewish com-
munity will get more answers.
Overall, she says, she is concerned about the effect
of people writing a check and buying themselves out
of the responsibility to volunteer.
Moretsky, however, is hopeful. She feels the mod-
ern age might actually cause people to volunteer in
spite of the pressures.
"I like Marshall McLuhan's [early writer on the elec-
tronic media] high-tech, high-touch ideas," Moretsky
says. "The more people are isolated because of comput-
erization, the more they are looking for socialization."
That's why people gravitate to study groups, personal
trainers and hands-on volunteer work, she says.
That's also why the simple person-to-person
request for help, not the form letters, are the most
effective way to get people to help, says Grossman.
Dr. Sales' statistics back this up. While half of the
population volunteers, of those who are asked to vol-
unteer, almost 90 percent reply positively, she says.
"And why not?" says volunteer Magda Raimi, nearly
100, of Oak Park, who still packs soup and marks covers
with dietary information for Meals on Wheels with six
or seven friends every Tuesday. "I love the people." ❑

Get Involved

,14 ,4




Local non-profit organizations need our help,
especially in these tight economic times. For vol-
unteer opportunities in the Jewish community,
check the Community Calendar each week in
the Jewish News. Volunteers also are needed at
each of the organizations listed in this story.
Here are their phone numbers: The Friendship
Circle, (248) 788-7878; Gleaners Food Bank,
(313) 923 3535; Hadassah, Greater Detroit
Chapter, (248) 683-5030; Jewish Home and
Aging Services, (248) 661-2999; Jewish Family
Services, (248) 559-1500; Meals on Wheels,
(248) 335-3300; Yad Ezra, (248) 548-3663.

Magda Raimi, almost 100, continues
to volunteer for the camaraderie it
provides and the people she can help.

My American Hero

Last year, in seventh grade, Jordan Shifman, now 13, of West
Bloomfield, went to a kick-off party for Friendship Circle, a
Chabad-sponsored organization that provides respite care and
family programming for families with special-needs children.
She went mainly because it was at her girlfriend's house. But
she ended up volunteering to spend one hour, one day a week,
with a special-needs child. She was matched up with
Stephanie Harris, then 10, of West Bloomfield.
Jordan was uncomfortable at first, she recalls. Now she says,
"Stephanie changed my life ... She inspires me. Stephanie does so
much for who she is She rides a bike, she reads, she writes her
name ... She's taught me how to act, how to think of people."
Stephanie's mother, Michelle Harris, can't say enough about
Friendship Circle and the volunteer experience. When Jordan
came, the mother got personal time for herself And Jordan
not only played with Stephanie, but also learned on her own
how to teach her
Michelle says she could hardly sleep the day before Jordan
Jordan Shifman, 13, horses
volunteered to take Stephanie to Friendship Circle's overnight
around with her friend and
camp for three nights. It was the first time her daughter would
`American Hero" Stephanie
be away without her mother.
11, both of West
"I thought about all the professionals who had told me to
:put Stephanie into an institution, a home, and I thought,
`Seer" Harris adds that though Stephanie was labeled autistic,
she now is verbal and social.
This month, Jordan, a student at Hillel Day School of
Metropolitan Detroit, wrote an essay on her "American Hero" -- Stephanie Harris.
Michelle Harris, moved by the paper, says, "Jordan said my daughter is the American hero, but no,
Jordan Shifman is the American hero." III

1 .

Mutual Benefits

Dr. Sanford Rosenfeld, 68, of West Bloomfield says he never volunteered formally until he retired three
years ago, having been a podiatrist for 34 years.
Now "Doc," as some of his new clients call him, is a volunteer para-chaplain in the Jewish
Community Chaplaincy Program through the Jewish Home and Aging Services. He never thought of
doing chaplaincy work until his wife was in a nursing home.
"Displeased with her care, I thought I'd become a patient advocate," Dr. Rosenfeld says. But he soon
realized that instead of trying to change the system, he would rather work directly with the residents.
"The reward is I get more out of volunteering than the recipients," says Dr. Rosenfeld, who also shares
his time with his seven grandchildren.
"You can learn a whole lot about life dealing with these people.."
He's been amazed by their humor and touched by their thoughtfulness.
"I told one man who was about to have his 90th birthday, `If you keep this up you could live to be
100."' And the man replied quickly, 'Yeah, if I don't die first.'" 111

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