Performance Counts: February 2014 A Valentine For Volunteers

Posted on February 14th, 2014 by

A Valentine for Volunteers

ilene cohenThis week in Performance Counts we wanted to speak to an aspect of our performance that is measured not only in numbers but in heart.  On behalf of the whole staff, Ilene Cohen, our volunteer coordinator (who is herself a volunteer), has composed this essay.

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I recently learned that the word “bénévolat,”  the French translation of the English term “volunteering” is derived from the association of “bien” and “vouloir,” translated as “well-being” and “desire” in English. And, the French term “bénévole” (from the Latin “benevolus”) is synonymous with the English “benevolent.”  From this etymological derivation, it can be said that to be a volunteer is the desire to act for the well-being of others; it is to accomplish work on a voluntary basis, freely and without remuneration. Being a volunteer is to be motivated by the satisfaction of helping to advance a cause we hold close to our hearts.

Did you know our entire Board of Trustees are volunteers?

Did you know our entire Board of Trustees are volunteers?

It seems all too often that we have the tendency to lessen the importance of actions that are not directly focused on results. Sometimes institutions take for granted those who give freely, passing over in silence and even forgetting their immense significance. But, we at the JMM endeavor to continually recognize that volunteers offer key support that enhances our mission.  We are indebted to our wonderful volunteers.   For this reason, on Valentine’s Day, we have committed ourselves to paying a special tribute to all of our volunteers.

Volunteers work with collections

Volunteers work with collections

What generosity and devotion! And also, what an immense debt of gratitude we owe to our volunteers. We acknowledge these extraordinary women and men who are as talented as they are giving.  In all the years, their commitment has never failed.  They continue to assist us as researchers, docents, receptionists, shop attendants and more.  I must also emphasize the essential contribution of the members of the Board of Directors. Plus, the generosity of all the members of our committees and working groups who contribute their time, energy and knowledge as consultants is indispensible as well. I doubt that any of our volunteers count either the number of hours or all the many and varied efforts they have contributed to the success of the JMM. We certainly do.  In the last year, our volunteers clocked 7,000 hours!  What would we have done without them?

They learn to give tours of our exhibits

They learn to give tours of our exhibits

Thankfully, our volunteers do reap some benefits, although not financial.  On a recent tour, a docent led a Muslim woman through the synagogues.  Not only did the visitor learn about Judaism, the docent learned about Islam and the many similarities between the two.  She was able to enjoy a personal connection with a newfound acquaintance.  On another tour, a South African visitor surprised the docent when, standing in front of the picture of Rabbi Abraham Nachman Schwartz, she stated that he was her great grandfather.  The woman went on to explain that the rabbi’s son, her grandfather, was also a rabbi, plus an artist.  After talking further, they realized together that there is a strong possibility that he participated in painting the murals that once graced the ceiling of the Lloyd Street Synagogue.  Helping people explore their family’s history and solving some of the mysteries about their family’s roots is a real life detective story for our genealogy volunteers.  One family wanted to confirm the story passed down that their great grandfather was born in Europe and fought against Napoleon in the battle of Waterloo before coming to the U.S., and living to the age of 117!  Unfortunately we do not have access to foreign documents so the story could not be validated.  These are just a few examples of how our volunteers provide a valuable contribution to our mission, while making connections and forming friendships that bring a deeper sense of meaning to their own lives.

And even help with research for exhibitions and programs.

And even help with research for exhibitions and programs.

I am convinced that with the continued “benevolent” support of our volunteers, the JMM will maintain success. We take off our hats for the hard work and generosity of all of our volunteers.

These final words come from the bottom of my heart.  Thank you.

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Volunteer Spotlight: Maxine Cohen

Posted on February 3rd, 2014 by

Max Cohen

Max Cohen

Maxine (Max) Cohen has been affiliated with the Jewish Museum of Maryland for almost 30 years.  She started the Genealogical Society of Maryland at what was then the Jewish Historical Society of Maryland with Carol Rider.  Her father-in-law, Morton Oppenheimer, led her way and was one of the first presidents of the Jewish Historical Society.  She became a member of the Board of Directors for two terms and helped with marketing for the museum.  She soon after became a volunteer in the Museum Shop where she remains today.  Esther Weiner, Shop Manager was instrumental in recruiting her as a Shop attendant all those years ago – they knew each other as members of Covenant Guild.

She worked for 26 years as a junk mail specialist, consulting in marketing and advertising for non-profits.  She endeavored to get people to send their money through the mail for wonderful causes.  She has ghost written for all types of companies.  Max is an avid skier and member of the Baltimore Ski Club.  Her favorite places to ski are in the western United States and Europe.  She is married with 2 children, a dog, and a minivan and is about to become a first time grandmother.  Plus, her 2nd child just became engaged, while on a chairlift during their last ski trip together.

Max’s favorite part of volunteering at the JMM is meeting people from out of town who have found the museum.  She enjoys introducing them to Jewish Baltimore.

ilene cohenA blog post by Volunteer Coordinator Ilene Cohen. The first Monday of every month she will be highlighting one of our fantastic JMM volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering with the JMM, drop her an email at icohen@jewishmuseummd.org or call 410-732-6402 x217! You can also get more information about volunteering at the Museum here.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Volunteer Spotlight: Edie Shlian

Posted on January 6th, 2014 by

photo of Edie Shlian

Edie

Edie Shlian has been volunteering in the genealogy department at the JMM since summer 2013.  She was interested in researching her own family history and once she learned that we no longer had staff on hand to assist with her pursuit, she determined it was something she could help others with.  She is a member of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Maryland and is hoping to bring some co-members in as volunteers as well.  In her position, she takes requests from people who are interested in finding out more information about their families – the history of their family in Baltimore.  She was surprised that people think we would know everything about family histories, when basically we cover Baltimore Jewish history records.

Before she began volunteering, she was a registered nurse.  She began in medical-surgical nursing then switched to cardiology.  She worked as a critical care nurse at Union Memorial Hospital, in the cardiac catheterization lab at Sinai Hospital, and in cardiac research at St. Joseph’s Hospital.  She became interested in nursing as a result of her father passing away at a young age, due to heart disease.  Edie is the mother of three children and grandmother of six.  Her youngest daughter and two of her grandchildren live in Seattle, her other daughter, son and grandchildren live in the Baltimore area.  She loves to travel, some of her favorite destinations have been Israel, Greece, the Caribbean Islands and across the United States.  She’s now at a point where she enjoys returning to a destination, rent an apartment, and live amongst the locals.  She has plans in the next year to do this in Florence and Venice.

She sees helping preserve family history as an important mission and looks forward to continuing to do so while at the JMM.

ilene cohenA blog post by Volunteer Coordinator Ilene Cohen. The first Monday of every month she will be highlighting one of our fantastic JMM volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering with the JMM, drop her an email at icohen@jewishmuseummd.org or call 410-732-6402 x217! You can also get more information about volunteering at the Museum here.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




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