Eight years ago, Lori and Jon Shaer were looking for an opportunity that would enable them and their young children to engage in hands-on philanthropy. When they learned about the JF&CS Family Table food pantry, they found the perfect outlet for volunteering. “We wanted to directly impact people with our children and show them how important it is to give back,” said Lori.
Today, Lori and Jon, along with their now-teenage children, Madi and Ben, are active volunteers and supporters of JF&CS. The Shaers regularly participate in Family Table Sunday distributions. “Our kids get to see the smiles on the faces of those they are helping and delivering groceries to,” said Jon. In addition to volunteering as a family, Lori and Jon have found ways to express their individual interests through JF&CS.
Each week, Jon visits a Holocaust survivor as a Friendly Visitor volunteer. “My father was wonderful about visiting my grandmother as she got older. After she passed, I learned how many older adults do not have that support, so it stuck with me,” said Jon. When Jon visits with his older adult friend, they discuss politics, current events, Israel and what it means to be Jewish. “It’s been very fulfilling to be able to share my time, and I like to think it’s been fulfilling for him as well,” said Jon.
Lori initially found her interest in JF&CS through Family Table and then extended her leadership to the JF&CS Center for Early Relationship Support® (CERS). She served on the Women’s Breakfast committee for many years, and in 2019, Lori co-chaired the annual Women’s Breakfast to help raise vital funds for CERS. “When I became a new mom, I felt very fortunate to have support from family and friends,” said Lori. “I appreciate and admire all of the support CERS provides to their clients during challenging times. It felt important for me to find a way to help.”
Lori is also the Family Table site coordinator for Temple Beth Shalom in Needham, acting as a liaison for the program in her temple community. During the COVID-19 crisis, Lori has been collecting donations from members of the congregation to purchase canned tuna and salmon for Family Table. Each month, more than 100 canned goods arrive at the Shaer household, which Lori’s son, Ben, delivers to JF&CS headquarters in Waltham. “Lori’s role as the Family Temple site coordinator speaks to her dedication and thoughtfulness during this time of crisis,” said Family Table director Bernice Behar. “She is keeping her temple community involved to help those in need.”
Lori and Jon also believe in the power of collective philanthropy. Earlier this year, they made a challenge gift for the Passover appeal, which attracted more donors and raised more money than in previous years.
“There is no shortage of worthwhile organizations to support in the Greater Boston area, but JF&CS has something for everyone, whether you are a volunteer or a client,” said Jon. Lori added, “We feel blessed to be a part of the JF&CS family.”
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