More than 70 volunteers participated in Good Neighbor Day Nov. 10, a day of service to homeowners. Students and families winterized windows, raked leaves, and cleaned streams around the Glen area of Baltimore.
Elderly citizens are enrolled with Comprehensive Housing Assistance Inc. (CHAI), which invited homeowners to sign up for service. This year, CHAI served 15 homes. Volunteers were found mostly through Jewish Volunteer Connection (JVC).
“Every year we add larger teams like Beth El or Bolton Street,” said Jessica Price, CHAI community operations and outreach manager. “I think it’s just a feel-good day and people enjoy it.”
JVC offers one-time or ongoing volunteer work for anyone interested. For this project, JVC attracted volunteers through outreach to Jewish schools, on Facebook, and more mediums, according to JVC Partnership Manager Abigail Malischostak.
The volunteers mostly replaced but sometimes installed a sticky adhesive on the windows. Then, plastic pre-measured and pre-cut by the senior home repair techs was fit into a groove to add insulation for the window. Volunteers are taught this on a demo-window.
“A lot of our programs are to keep people from being isolated, as well as safe,” said Price. Something as simple as leaf-raking can create a clear pathway to prevent falls. Window winterization can reduce bills, and according to Bass, conserve energy and resources.
It could also help with arthritis, said Eva Duncan, a CHAI client of more than 10 years.
“The room in there is like an icebox,” she said, referring to the room where 12-year-old Evan Rosen and his father, former CHAI president Jeff Rosen, worked. “I can’t do nothing, I had three back surgeries. God put those people in my life — and Ms. Rona Gross, I love her so much — they are all a blessing to me.” (Gross is Duncan’s caretaker.)
JVC worked with Center for Jewish Education (CJE) to make the experience reflective.
“It’s important for us to not only go out and serve, but to think about it,” said Eli Bass, Jewish education coordinator at CJE. He talked with volunteers beforehand about their goal and Judaism’s ethics. “I really pushed the idea of building a real sense of empathy and compassion for the people they’re serving.” He said, “There’s a person in the picture they need to spend some time with.”
“What we often say is people only commit to things they care out,” Malischostak agreed. People claim they’re busy until there’s a Ravens game. It’s important to create a meaningful experience.”
“This is one of CHAI’s best days of the year,” said Jeff Rosen.