Jewish Family Service honors volunteers with ‘evening of laughter’ – Essex News Daily
MILLBURN, NJ — MetroWest’s Jewish Family Service held its annual gala, “An Evening of Laughter,” on Wednesday, June 1, outdoors at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in Millburn. This year, JFS honored Maxine Myers’ legacy and renamed its Maxine Myers JFS Volunteer Services Department in her memory.
Myers was a cherished friend, benefactor, and longtime JFS board member who provided leadership funding to help JFS Safety Net, the Horizon Endowment, and the Rachel Coalition Endowment. She helped JFS establish its Legacy and Major Gifts companies, and in doing so, strengthened the MetroWest community for generations.
Nearly 200 people attended the event, purchased “Cookies for a Cause” to meet critical community needs and enjoyed comedian Ryan Hamilton.
At the event, JFS also paid tribute to some of its volunteers. The 2022 Volunteer Service Award recipients are:
- Stephanie Gerstein of West Orange received the Maxine Myers Volunteer Award. Gerstein has been a volunteer with JFS since 2015. She is a committed, warm and dedicated volunteer who is actively involved in many JFS volunteer initiatives for children, such as Reading Buddies and Listen to Children, and for older adults with Friendly Visiting and Tessie’s Touch.
- Gary Berger of Maplewood received the COVID-19 Response Programs Award. During the pandemic, JFS launched a meal delivery program for Holocaust survivors and other vulnerable seniors who would benefit from a socially distanced weekly hot meal and check-in. Berger immediately volunteered. He delivered meals to customers in Morris, Essex and Union counties. As well as delivering meals, he delivered first aid kits to survivors when supermarket staples were hardest to come by. He is also part of the virtual Reading Buddies program and reads weekly to West Orange students.
- Nutley’s Susan Rueda received the Reading Buddies award. Rueda joined Reading Buddies in 2020, one of the toughest years for the program. Engaging students via Zoom can be challenging, but Rueda is energetic, flexible, and great with the kids she reads to, from kindergarten through second grade. In addition to two regular classes, she has been a last-minute substitute on several occasions.
- Paul Brownstein of Livingston received the award for older adult programs. Brownstein is a dedicated money management volunteer who has served JFS clients during his five years with the program. He devotes his time and expertise to helping his senior clients remain financially independent.
- Ayne Klein-Chasid, of East Hanover, received the Medicare counseling program award. In the nearly two years that Klein-Chasid served as a counselor for the state’s Health Insurance Assistance Program, she was patient and efficient in counseling clients in the Essex County community. . Klein-Chasid has received positive feedback from clients who feel more confident and reassured to navigate the complicated Medicare process. She also took on the new responsibility of monitoring the JFS SHIP Helpline to assign new client referrals to JFS’s approximately 20 SHIP Advisors.
Photos courtesy of JFS