Nutley Volunteer Honored by Jewish Family Service of MetroWest NJ

NUTLEY, NJ — A Nutley volunteer was among five North Jersey residents who recently received a big thank you from the Jewish Family Service of MetroWest NJ.

The Jewish Family Service of MetroWest (JFS) held its annual gala last week at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun ​​in Short Hills. At the event, the organization honored several of its supporters with the 2022 Volunteer Service Awards.

They included:

Reading Buddies Award Recipient: Susan Rueda (Nutley)

Susan Rueda joined Reading Buddies in 2020, one of our toughest years for the program. Engaging students via Zoom can be challenging, but Susan is energetic, flexible, and great with the kids she reads to, from kindergarten through second grade. With her dogs, Leela and Odie, and a variety of hats for humans and dogs, she was an instant hit with her classrooms. In addition to two regular classes, Susan has been a last minute substitute on several occasions.

Maxine Myers z”l Volunteer Award Recipient: Stephanie Gerstein (West Orange)

Stephanie Gerstein has been a JFS volunteer since 2015. She is an engaged, warm and dedicated volunteer who is actively involved in many JFS volunteer initiatives for children like Reading Buddies and Listen to Children and for older adults with Friendly Visiting and Tessie’s Touch. She brings joy, connection and warmth to all of her clients, especially those who are isolated and in need of a supportive companion. She has a profound impact on the clients she serves by always going above and beyond, often adding personal touches that foster deep and meaningful relationships with JFS clients.

COVID-19 Response Programs Award Recipient: Gary Berger (Maplewood)

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. Gary immediately volunteered. He delivers meals to customers in Morris, Essex and Union counties. As well as delivering meals, Gary 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.

Older Adult Programs Award Recipient: Paul Brownstein (Livingston)

Paul Brownstein is a dedicated money management volunteer who has served JFS clients during his five years with the program. He is a kind, patient and dedicated volunteer who devotes his time and expertise to helping his elderly clients remain financially independent. Paul is always willing to go the extra mile, often looking for new ways to give back to his community.

Medicare Counseling Program (SHIP) Award Recipient: Ayne Klein-Chasid (East Hanover)

In the almost 2 years that Ayne Klein-Chasid has been a SHIP Advisor, she has been patient and efficient in advising clients in the Essex County community. Ayne has received positive feedback from clients who feel more confident and reassured in navigating the complicated Medicare process. Ayne also took on the new responsibility of monitoring the JFS SHIP Helpline to assign new client referrals to our approximately 20 SHIP Advisors. Ayne has become a great addition to Essex County’s SHIP, helping clients navigate the “twists of Medicare,” as one of Aynes’ former clients put it.


The Jewish Family Service of MetroWest NJ’s Volunteer Services also celebrated its volunteers at an annual volunteer appreciation event at its offices in Florham Park on May 2.

JFS staff hosted over 60 volunteers at the event.

“After another year of mostly virtual or socially distanced volunteering, it was great to see everyone in person,” said Stephanie Grove, Senior Director of Volunteer Services at JFS.

“Our volunteers do amazing work supporting our customers and those in need in the community,” Grove said. “This event is one of the many ways we can say thank you to them every year.”

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