Volunteer Spotlight- Kevin Ruebenstahl, Christine Surette, and Nina Monti

JFS has experienced an increased wave of new refugee families in 2024 and the volunteer department have been busy coordinating new apartment set-ups weekly. We rely on a dedicated team of volunteers to assist us with apartment set-ups to make each new home cozy and inviting.

Kevin Ruebenstahl, referred to JFS by St. Catherine’s of Siena Church, has completed six apartment set-ups this year! Our new volunteer record! He is always eager to offer his assistance and has become the go-to person for furniture assembly! Kevin’s sentiments are, “I really enjoy my time setting up apartments for refugee families who need a new start. And the volunteer crew makes it fun! Several of the JFS staff I worked with were clients themselves. They are so grateful to be here, so optimistic and determined to move past the fear and despair they left behind. My undocumented paternal grandfather said the same, simply, in difficult English, “It’s good in America.” It still is.”

Christine Surette, has done everything from sourcing household donations for new apartments, to accompanying our case managers to the airport and home visits for new families as a French translator, to completing four apartment set-ups! Christine commented, “I have enjoyed setting up apartments and using my French to help refugee families. These jobs are so easy for me to do, yet I can tell they have an enormous impact on the families JFS supports. I have only just begun volunteering and look forward to meeting some of these families again, say, a year from now, to see all the progress they have made. I can’t help but think of my own great-grandmother who immigrated to the US all by herself at the age of 21. She had only $25 in her purse and spoke no English. She credits the kindness of strangers for getting her off to a good start when she arrived at Ellis Island so long ago. JFS offers many opportunities for folks like me to play this role in the lives of others. I think even the smallest gesture from a volunteer can make a huge difference to a family arriving here in the US for the first time.”

Nina Monti, a new JFS volunteer, just completed her first apartment set-up! Nina expressed, “I enjoyed setting up the apartment and hoping the new family would find it welcoming. I was thinking about their hopes and dreams and that they will successfully assimilate and prosper.”