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“There is nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer.”
~ author unknown

In the world of JCCs, volunteers are vital. Without the “strong heart” of our volunteers, the body of our organization simply would not function.

We are incredibly fortunate to have many passionate and dedicated volunteers. They spend countless hours helping behind the scenes and at events, working to make programs run seamlessly and smoothly. If you have ever attended a JCC event, there is a good chance you have seen two of our most devoted volunteers, Shirlee Gilbert and Beverly Louis.

When Shirlee moved to Dayton 59 years ago, she immediately began to volunteer her time with the Jewish Federation of Greater Dayton, Jewish Family Services, and the JCC. Being a busy mom to three sons didn’t stop Shirlee from her volunteer duties. With sons in tow, Shirlee would attend board meetings while her boys entertained themselves at the JCC. “I remember us going to the board room door, and my mother waiving us on, saying ‘Not ready yet!’ ” says youngest son Dr. Heath Gilbert. “Then we would play basketball or another game and go back again a little later until Mom was done.”

Throughout the years, Shirlee has served on multiple boards and committees. She served on the BBYO Board when her sons were teenagers in an effort to encourage participation, knowing they would develop skills that would help them become successful future leaders. Shirlee served on the Covenant House Board, JFS Board, JCC Board (including as Chair), and was instrumental in the creation of Ice Breakers (now known as Active Adults). In addition, Shirlee currently serves on the Federation Board.

In volunteering, I feel I am helping carry on the Federation’s work for all the Jewish people in Dayton. It’s important to help plan and implement JCC programs that are meaningful.

~ Shirlee Gilbert
JFGD, JFS, and JCC Volunteer

In volunteering, I feel I am helping carry on the Federation’s work for all the Jewish people in Dayton. It’s important to help plan and implement JCC programs that are meaningful.

~ Shirlee Gilbert
JFGD, JFS, and JCC Volunteer

In volunteering, I feel I am helping carry on the Federation’s work for all the Jewish people in Dayton. It’s important to help plan and implement JCC programs that are meaningful.

~ Shirlee Gilbert
JFGD, JFS, and JCC Volunteer

Shirlee’s volunteer work extends outside of the Federation and its agencies. She was President of Temple Israel, and has served on a multitude of their committees as well.

Her efforts have not gone unnoticed. She has won several awards in the community, including the JCC Volunteer of the year award in 2015.

When asked about her decades of volunteer work, Shirlee says, “In volunteering, I feel I am helping carry on the Federation’s work for all the Jewish people in Dayton. It’s important to help plan and implement JCC programs that are meaningful.”

She continues, “It’s so rewarding when I am a part of planning a program and lots of people attend and mention how much they enjoyed the event. That’s when I know my time was well worth it.”

What is Shirlee’s advice to someone who may be thinking about volunteering? “Go for it ~ you will like it!”

Another longtime volunteer, Beverly Louis has been donating her time for over 50 years. Beverly was taught the importance of tzedakah at an early age from her role models ~ her parents. She learned from being in her dad’s drug store the importance of giving and being compassionate to those who are less fortunate. Her father never turned anyone away.

Throughout the years, Beverly has served on many boards and committees. She is currently Chair of the JCC Board, and an officer on the Jewish Federation of Greater Dayton Board. Beverly can also be found volunteering for multiple programs at Beth Abraham Synagogue.

As JCC Board Chair, Beverly is thrilled with the level of board member engagement as well as community involvement on the various subcommittees. “People are so committed to CABF, the Film Festival, A Night in Vegas Fundraiser and the Women’s Seder. Parents are actively helping with Children’s Theatre. Volunteers are always ready and willing to help with Israel Independence Day or our Chanukah celebration,” says Beverly. “Most often, when you put the call out people step up and are very willing to help.”

In addition to the JCC, Beverly feels that supporting agencies that help people in need, such as JFS, proves to be a very rewarding experience. She says, “It’s important to get people involved in their community.”

To anyone who is considering volunteering, Beverly’s advice is, “Try it! Bring your ideas with you. We have a culture of acceptance, and our staff is willing to try new things. By being involved, I feel I’m making a difference. You too can make an impact on our community.”

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