JF&CS volunteer recognized by Jewish Federation for service to refugees

At the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s Annual Meeting held last month at the Jewish Community Center, Jeffrey Herzog, a volunteer in the refugee services department at Jewish Family & Children’s Service, was one of several Volunteers of the Year honored in a video highlighting community volunteers who were selected by their respective agencies, organizations and synagogues for their service.

Jeff volunteers as an Employment Specialist at JF&CS and works intensively with refugees to help them find and retain work so they can support themselves and their families. He teaches them about the American workplace, educates them on the skills they need to secure their first jobs in the U.S. and helps them prepare for interviews and eventual employment. He has also been a great help in reaching out to new employers and creating relationships to help refugees find work in the community, who must find full-time work about three to four months after arrival in the U.S. in order to cover rent and other basic expenses.

“Jeff is a wonderful addition to the refugee team as both a resource and as a colleague,” said Leslie Aizenman, director of the refugee and immigrant services program. “Through Jeff’s extensive network in the community and dedication to the program, the employment team has added several new steady employers as well as sped up the hiring process for clients.”

Jeff working with one of his regular clients

Jeff came to JF&CS last June after retiring as Executive Director of Rodef Shalom, where he worked for more than 20 years. Prior to that, he served as a Peace Corps volunteer, and then worked as a Peace Corps director in Central America.

In structuring his post-retirement life, Jeff saw spending time giving back to Pittsburgh’s refugees in the form of helping them find employment as a great use of his skills, interests and international experience. Originally, he began volunteering with the employment program for 10 hours a week, but found the work so enriching that he was able to increase his commitment to almost 30 hours a week, at his own request!

“When I work with refugees, I tell them that all of us were refugees once, and that someone gave us a hand up,” Jeff said. “I feel so blessed to help them in the same way that someone helped my forefathers. I know they’ve made a start in their new life as a citizen of the United States, and they’re on their way.”

At JF&CS, volunteers and interns are vital to our work and mission, whether they are generously giving their time on a regular basis or providing a particular skill to our agency when needed. We are so thankful to our many volunteers like Jeff, whose help makes it possible to for our agency to change the lives of so many in our communities.

JF&CS’s services are crucial to ensuring refugees, legal immigrants and foreign-born individuals are fully supported to establish new lives in our community. To volunteer, donate goods or to find more ways you can help support JF&CS’s programs and refugees in our community, please contact Catrina Doxsee cdoxsee@jfcspgh.org or call 412-422-7200.

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