Great Matchmaking is the “Secret Sauce” of One Good Deed
Imagine that you are an older adult with no spouse, friends or relatives living in Atlanta. Or, imagine that you do have family here, but they’re busy with their kids and their jobs, and sometimes it’s difficult to speak honestly and openly with them about your needs. That’s where One Good Deed, the friendly visitor program of JF&CS, makes a difference in the lives of aging adults. One Good Deed, under the direction of Sharon Spiegelman and Vivienne Kurland, has been matching Atlanta volunteers with elderly clients for more than a decade, but since the program formally joined JF&CS two years ago under Aviv Older Adult Services, it also offers amplified resources and complementary servicesit’s been able to help more people than ever before. One Good Deed is part of the AgeWell Atlanta continuum of services and supports for older adults and their families.
“Yesterday we got a call from a man who has become more isolated and requires extra help. We put him in touch with JF&CS’ Information and Referral specialist. Now he’ll get food from the Kosher Food Pantry, and we’re finding him additional resources to help with some of his paperwork,” Sharon Spiegelman says. “Another one of our long-time recipients moved from her own home to nursing care. Through One Good Deed I could now refer her to chaplaincy services, and coordinate case management with her daughter.”
The art of pairing volunteers with elderly recipients is an area where One Good Deed excels. It has an exceptionally high retention rate because volunteers and recipients are matched with such care. “We interview volunteers and recipients extensively, taking all their needs into account. To be successful, a match must be a win/win for both parties. This is a relationship, not a service call. It requires soul and chemistry,” Vivienne Kurland emphasized. “Ninety percent of our matches are made from heart and gut. They often feel bashert (predestined). When the fit isn’t right, we make changes right away. We are very protective of our volunteers,” said Sharon Spiegelman.
One Good Deed volunteers commit to a year of visits. Volunteers visit with their older adult for a minimum of two hours at a time and at least twice a month. They are companions who help with simple tasks, go shopping, go out for lunch, or simply sit and talk. “The elderly are a fluid population,” Spiegelman points out. “In the course of a visitor relationship they may go from living at home to assisted living, and some will pass on. Our volunteers learn to be flexible, and like any good friend, they are devastated when the end of life comes. Most of them continue with One Good Deed, even when their elderly friends are gone.”
Even with their loyal volunteer base, One Good Deed has a great need for volunteers, age 21+. If you have time to lift the spirits of an older adult, make an unforgettable friendship and perform an incredible mitzvah, learn more here. If you know an elderly person who would benefit from having a friendly visitor, apply here. Recipients must be living independently in their own home or apartment.