JFS Volunteers, Friends Make Impact

Mary K. and Vickie, JFS Volunteers

As a small agency with a big impact, JFS often has more work than it can manage. We rely heavily on volunteers to help us in accomplishing our goals.

One project where volunteers have had an immediate impact is the Adoption/Foster Care Digitization Project, which has been led by three dedicated volunteers. Although it might sound very “techie,” it is an essential part of preserving the records of adoptive and foster children and giving people the opportunity as adults to reconnect with those childhood experiences.

Most Friday mornings, Mary K. Segal and Vickie Petrina can be found in the JFS front office talking, laughing, and working diligently at going through and digitalizing 115 boxes of old foster care and adoption records.

“Through our efforts we are converting these records to a paperless system,” explains Mary K, “and, thereby, helping JFS enter the 21st century.” But even more importantly, the project enables adults with a history as adoptive and foster to learn about the family stories that have shaped who they are today.

The duo is thankful for the assistance provided by a third volunteer, Frank Reinhart, who works independently of them. Although Frank is indispensable to their efforts, he undoubtedly misses out on the weekly camaraderie.  “Vickie and I have been friends for years and we’re both interested in genealogy and family history,” says Mary K. “I think the secret is finding a volunteer activity that relates to something you’re interested in, having a good friend to join you, and doing work for an agency that does good things. You can accomplish a lot and also have a great time and deepen your friendship.”

“I look forward to it,” says Vickie. “I can spend time with a friend while doing something that’s going to be worthwhile down the road. And it’s so much more rewarding than just going out to lunch and chatting.”