Volunteer Spotlight: A Conversation with Madeline Abramson

The former First Lady of Louisville and former Lieutenant Governor’s wife, Madeline Abramson, began volunteering with Jewish Family & Career Services over 30 years ago. She has served in numerous leadership roles as a member of the Board of Directors, the Community Advisory Council, as MOSAIC Honorary Chair and on the search committee for the CEO. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Madeline has continued volunteering with JFCS in a safe and impactful way by making telephone reassurance calls to some of JFCS’s senior clients.

Each Friday Madeline calls four seniors to check-in and chats about everything from the weather and current events to their unmet needs that JFCS can help address. Madeline feels these calls have been a very rewarding experience but also sometimes eye-opening. She recently discovered that one of her weekly check-in seniors had food insecurity needs and was not sure where her next meals would come from. Madeline was able to connect her with the JFCS Janet & Sonny Meyer Food Pantry to ensure her needs were met. In another instance, a senior with a history of serious medical issues was not returning Madeline’s calls. Because of her dedicated attention, JFCS staff were able to ensure this senior was healthy and safe in their home and learned their phone had simply been out of order.

It is instances like these that have made Madeline realize how important these weekly check-in calls are for the health and safety of seniors in our community. “JFCS understood the risks associated with social isolation prior to the COVID-19 pandemic due to their previous work and history of supporting seniors. This allowed JFCS to respond promptly to the increasing needs of seniors that have been intensified by COVID-19.”

The weekly check-in calls have been rewarding to Madeline and volunteering with JFCS this way has given her the opportunity to know and learn about new people and make new friends. She said that when the pandemic first began in March 2020, some of the clients she was calling were receiving numerous calls from other friends and family each week but, more recently, she has found that calls from others are dwindling and often Madeline’s is the only call they receive all week long. This made Madeline realize that so many of her own family and friends are currently isolated and as a result, her whole family has gotten better about checking in regularly. “This volunteer opportunity has taught both my husband and me what we can do to help others in the community, including those that are closest to us.”

For Madeline, these seniors are a source of inspiration and have a persona of resiliency in an often difficult world.  Each week she hears changing and interesting perspectives that range from upbeat and happy to scared and discouraged, but she knows after each call that senior’s day is a little brighter knowing that someone is thinking of them.

The values and mission of JFCS are meaningful to the Abramson family because “JFCS cares for everyone in the community.” Her current weekly check-in list has two seniors who are Jewish and two who are not. “Everyone receives the same level of services regardless of religious background and that is admirable.”

Jewish Family & Career Services relies on volunteers, like Madeline, to help us expand possibilities for each person and every family to meet life’s challenges with confidence. As Madeline has experienced and shared, volunteers play an important role in ensuring our clients are served with dignity and purpose. If you are interested in volunteering with JFCS, contact us today at volunteer@jfcslouisville.org. We will be happy to work with you to select the right volunteer opportunity that matches your availability and interests.

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