Jewish Family Service honors volunteers at ‘An Evening of Laughter’

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MILLBURN, NJ — Jewish Family Service of MetroWest held its annual gala, “An Evening of Laughter,” on Wednesday, June 1, outdoors at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in Millburn. This year, JFS honored the legacy of Maxine Myers and renamed its volunteer department the Maxine Myers JFS Volunteer Services Department in her memory.

Myers was a cherished friend, benefactor and longtime board member at JFS who provided leadership funding to assist with JFS Safety Net, the Horizon endowment and the Rachel Coalition endowment. She assisted JFS in establishing its Legacy and Major Gifts societies and, in doing so, strengthened the MetroWest community for generations.

Nearly 200 people attended the event, purchased “Cookies for a Cause” to support the critical needs of the community and enjoyed comedian Ryan Hamilton.

At the event, JFS also honored some of its volunteers. The following are the 2022 Volunteer Service Award recipients:

  • 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 devoted volunteer who actively serves 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 started a meal delivery program for Holocaust survivors and other vulnerable older adults who would benefit from a socially distant weekly hot meal and check-in. Berger immediately stepped up as a volunteer. He delivered meals to clients across Morris, Essex and Union counties. In addition to delivering meals, he delivered care packages of necessities to survivors when supermarket staples were most difficult to get. He is also a part of the virtual Reading Buddies program and reads weekly to students in West Orange.
  • Susan Rueda, of Nutley, received the Reading Buddies Award. Rueda joined Reading Buddies in 2020, one of the most challenging years for the program. Engaging students via Zoom can be difficult, but Rueda is energetic, flexible and great with the children she reads to from pre-K up to second grade. In addition to two regular classes, she has been a last-minute substitute on multiple occasions.
  • Paul Brownstein, of Livingston, received the Older Adult Programs Award. Brownstein is a dedicated Money Management volunteer who has served JFS clients over his five-year tenure in 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 almost two years Klein-Chasid has been a State Health Insurance Assistance Program counselor, she has demonstrated patience and efficiency in counseling clients in the Essex County community. Klein-Chasid has received positive feedback from clients who feel more confident and reassured in navigating the complicated Medicare process. She has also taken on the new responsibility of monitoring JFS’ SHIP helpline to assign referrals of new clients to JFS’ roughly 20 SHIP counselors. 

Photos Courtesy of JFS

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