Volunteer Spotlight: Frankie Gottlieb
Frankie Gottlieb has been a volunteer with Jewish Family Service LA for over four years. She volunteers with JFS Hope, which provides compassionate, personalized services and shelter to survivors of domestic violence and their children.
Frankie started volunteering when a close friend asked her to help purchase weekly groceries for one of JFS Hope’s domestic violence shelters. During the pandemic, Frankie wanted to help in any way she could, so she shared her passion for baking and has been providing a variety of treats to the shelter weekly since the start of the pandemic.
During that time, Frankie also helped make phone calls to survivors of the Holocaust who are part of the Café Europa social program at JFS. She says it was a very unique experience and that she became very good friends with one of the survivors.
We wanted to learn more about Frankie and her experience as a JFS volunteer, so we sat down and asked her a few questions:
Q: What do you spend your time doing outside of volunteering with JFS?
A: I’ve been retired for about 10 years now, although my husband still works. I take aerobics classes five days a week and enjoy going to the movies and live theater. I also love to travel and look forward to the planning of our trips.
Q: What was your first impression of volunteering with JFS?
A: I was very impressed with what JFS does and wanted to become a part of that family. In fact, I have enjoyed it so much that I recruited my sister to join me!
Q: What are your responsibilities as a volunteer? What is a day of volunteering at JFS like, for you?
A: Right now, I start my volunteering day by picking up the grocery list from Hope South, head to the designated grocery store, purchase everything on the list, and end it by dropping it off at the shelter for the clients. In the past month, my sister and I have started grocery shopping for Hope North [another JFS Hope domestic violence shelter]. I’m also looking forward to helping serve lunches at JFS meal sites once those open again.
Q: Tell us about some of the people you’ve met while volunteering.
A: During the COVID-19 lockdown, volunteers were needed to call some of the members from Café Europa once a week to check in and see if they needed anything. I volunteered and met a lovely woman named Ann. We really connected and have become great friends. She’s a very busy lady, but we still talk every so often for almost an hour each time. I’m really hoping she goes back to lunch at the meal sites so I can see her weekly.
Q: What is the best part about volunteering with JFS?
A: I’d have to say, when I deliver the groceries, the little children want to help empty the car, and carry them in. Just seeing their smiling faces is uplifting. It’s part of why I started baking them cookies when I couldn’t grocery shop for them during the pandemic. I asked the staff if it would be okay to bring homemade cookies, so I started baking three to four dozen every Monday.
There was one time when a little boy and his family were getting ready to transition out of the shelter. He asked if there would be cookies where he was going and the staff said, “Well, probably not.” Immediately, he said he didn’t want to go. That’s when I knew we just had to keep baking them because it made the shelter seem like a cozier environment.
The whole family has become involved with baking the cookies. During the pandemic, my son would make them. Even after having moved out last year, both my son and daughter still come over to help bake if I’m unavailable.
Q: How has your experience with JFS influenced you the most?
A: I don’t know if it’s influenced me but I have always wanted to give back to the community. I was taught that you help where and when you can, so I try to go that extra mile to help someone in need, because you never know when you’re going to be the one needing the help. And when I see women and children who need help, I want to be able to provide it.
Q: What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering with JFS?
A: When my sister asked if I thought there was something she could do, I grabbed her and I said, we’re going to do the grocery shopping for JFS Hope together. We’re going to do this as a team. And I’m recruiting a lady in my water aerobics class who has expressed an interest in volunteering. I told them it feels good to be able to help people who really need it. It’s fulfilling and I’m making a difference.
Q: Anything else you’d like us to know?
A: My grandparents came from Europe before the 1940s, so I really appreciate everything JFS does, especially with Café Europa. I appreciate JFS for being there to help people regardless of where they come from, what language they speak, or what religion they are. JFS opens their doors for everyone. JFS is one of the most welcoming organizations that I’ve ever been associated with.
Jewish Family Service LA offers a multitude of volunteer opportunities within our many programs. To learn more about these opportunities, please visit www.jfsla.org/volunteer