Volunteer Shout Out

Judy Shankman | Karen Sisselman | Jenny George | Judi & Alan Fanger | David Franklin | Joe Morgart | Tania Gray | Michael Lourie | Paul Crocetti

Our June 2019 Volunteer Shout Out

This month’s Volunteer Shout Out goes to Andra Stein for being an incredibly committed, thoughtful, and all around fabulous Big Sister. Andra became involved with JBBBS when she returned to Boston from Virginia in 2010. She was first matched with a 14 year old Little Sister for over 4 years until her “Little” graduated from high school. Andra and her first “Little” remain close, and Andra marvels at what a remarkable young woman her “Little” has become.
Andra is currently matched with her second Little Sister, an 8 year old who she met a year ago. They are having a blast together! Andra drives quite a long distance to see her match, and her “Little” adores her! Together they have gone shopping, bowling, and apple-picking. They have painted pottery, visited the zoo, gone to movies, explored the Science Museum, and attended the performance of School Of Rock with other JBBBS matches. They have even made a point of doing community service together, which has been her Little’s favorite activity. When asked her favorite thing to do with her “Little,” Andra responds, “I cannot claim a favorite thing. I have enjoyed every minute I spend with my “Little” no matter what we do. I sometimes wonder how I got to be so lucky to spend time with this wonderful, delightful child. She has captured my heart.”
When she is not volunteering with JBBBS, Andra’s personal passion is cycling and “anything that keeps me outdoors and physically moving. “She has ridden in both the Pan-Mass Challenge and in the Rodman Ride. Andra is planning to ride in the 2019 Rodman Ride on behalf of TEAM JBBBS.
Thank you, Andra, for all of the lives that you impact through your volunteer efforts!

Our March 2019 Volunteer Shout Outs


Board of Directors Member: Judy Shankman, Big Sister

How did you first become involved with JBBBS?
When my twins went off to college, I decided to make some changes in my life. I wanted to get a full time job in my profession and engage in a volunteer activity that was more tangible and meaningful than just serving on agency boards. I had been involved in several organizations within the Jewish community but never with JBBBS. The whole idea of becoming a mentor was extremely appealing to me and I always felt that when my nest was empty, becoming a Big would be extremely fulfilling for me personally and hopefully for a child as well. My first experience as a Big was in 2002. I became so inspired by the mission of the agency that I actually wanted to be a part of the board of directors so that I might have an impact on a more global level.

What has been your most rewarding/favorite moment?
I cannot point to one particular meaningful moment, but watching my Little Brother grow and change and become more comfortable in the world has been the most rewarding aspect of being a Big.

What does mentorship mean to you?
Mentoring with JBBBS is not parallel to mentoring in the workplace or the playing field. To me, it simply means forming a relationship that is honest and nonjudgmental, accepting the child for whom they are and working very slowly to strengthen the bond and make the child feel good about himself. If the child feels confident and loved by his Big, it can only improve how he function in their world. It is a very simple concept but one that I hope is making a difference for my Little.

Endowment Board Member: Karen Sisselman, Big Sister

How did you first become involved with JBBBS?
About 15 years ago, a good friend and JBBBS Board Member introduced me to the agency. I was at a stage in my life where I was investigating volunteer opportunities — and JBBBS really resonated with me. The mission of the agency and the holistic approach to supporting children in our community aligned with where I wanted to spend my time. I joined the Board and became a volunteer. My first former Little Sister, Emma, moved to Texas but we are still in daily contact — she is now a sophomore in High School. I currently have another Little Sister, Ellie, and have marveled at her growth over the past 5 years. I served as the Chair of the Board, and now sit on the agency’s Endowment Board.

What has been your most rewarding/favorite moment of being a Big Sister?
I cannot say what my most rewarding moment has been because so many small, daily incidents are the highlight of my Big Sister experience. For example, when Emma, my former Little Sister in Texas, sends me her school grades and tells me about her successes; or when Ellie, my current Little Sister, gets in my car and excitedly tells me how she went on a Ferris wheel overcoming her fear of heights. Or recently when I took Ellie to the Opera House (courtesy of JBBBS), and watched her wide eyes as she took in the magnificence of the theater. I have countless examples. These are “insignificant” moments that add up to be so significant.

Another rewarding aspect of the JBBBS Program is the additional support that Ellie and her mom receive from the agency. Ellie has attended a summer camp for the past three years and this experience has had a tremendous impact on her social skills and over all self-confidence. Ellie has received a “back to school” backpack filled with school supplies — items that she would not have had if not for JBBBS.

What does mentorship mean to you?
It means friendship, role model, someone to share fears, dreams, and hopes— in a safe, non-judgmental environment.


JBBBS Team Member: Jenny George, Clinical Match Specialist

In one sentence, what does your job entail?
As a Clinical Match Specialist, I complete volunteer and child intakes, make new Matches, and oversee a caseload of Matches to help ensure the safety and success of the Big/Little relationship.

What path led you to your current position at JBBBS?
I have an MSW from Simmons and training in Narrative Family Therapy from the Family Institute of Cambridge. Prior to coming to JBBBS in 2015, I had the opportunity to work with children and families at both Children’s Hospital, as well as in a local elementary school.

What motivates you most about your work at JBBBS?
I am inspired every day by the wonderful volunteers who want to share their time and kindness with a child in need of another friend and supporter. I am similarly moved by the families with whom we work – parents/guardians who are such amazing advocates for their children, and kids who are willing to learn and grow through a new relationship. I most enjoy watching these new friendships develop between Bigs and Littles and the joy it brings to all involved.


Our February 2019 Volunteer Shout Outs


Judi & Alan Fanger

This month’s Volunteer Shout Out goes not to an individual volunteer, but to an incredible couple. Alan, who is a former JBBBS Board member, is currently matched with his second “Little Brother”. He first became involved in the agency 27 years ago. Judi has been a volunteer in the Friend 2 Friend Program for close to one year.

Judi shared that she has a “wonderful 28 year old nephew with challenges who lives on the west coast” and she knows “how difficult it is for him to find an appropriate social network in his community.” She noted that she wants to be able to “bring friendship and joy into the life of someone who’s missing that from their life.” Judi and her friend, Cindy, enjoy going to the theater together, and are looking forward to seeing School of Rock with JBBBS in February. Judi shared that she loves the agency, commenting that she is particularly moved by the work that JBBBS does to “enhance and improve the lives of developmentally challenged adults.”

Alan originally chose to volunteer in the children’s program in the early 90’s as two of his close friends were “Bigs.” Each of these friends shared how meaningful it was to them to have a one-to-one mentoring relationship with a child. 27 years later, after raising his own children and while running a busy legal practice, Alan is currently matched with his second Little Brother. He and his Little Brother Ramon enjoy going to Celtics games, hiking, biking, and playing tennis.

Thank you, Judi and Alan, for the lives that you touch through your volunteer efforts!

Our January 2019 Volunteer Shout Outs

David Franklin, Chair, JBBBS Board of Directors

How did you first become involved with JBBBS? (When, How…as a Big/Friend, other)

I started attending JBBBS events over a decade ago when a colleague of mine brought me to one of the first Bowling events. While I was interested in the Agency, my passion for its mission really grew after one of my best friends passed away leaving behind two young children. His twin boys became matched with Bigs and I could see firsthand the tremendous impact it had on their lives.

What has been your most rewarding/favorite moment as a JBBBS volunteer?

As Board Chair, I am awed by the aggregate impact we are having on our community. Attending our events is a great way to see the smiles on their faces, the pure enjoyment our matches have and the deep friendships which have been made.

What does mentorship mean to you?

Mentoring is about imparting wisdom and helping others reach their potential. When done best, it is a two-way street which benefits both people in the relationship.


Joe Morgart, Chair, JBBBS Endowment Board of Directors


How did you first become involved with JBBBS?

I was fortunate to be introduced to JBBBS as a part of the CJP Acharai Leadership Program many years ago. I instantly became passionate about the mission of the agency and was asked to serve on the Board. During my time on the Board, I learned more about the Agency in many ways, and I was then asked to serve as the Agency Board Chair. Here, again, I felt fortunate that we had a great staff, terrific Bigs, and a great Board. As a team we were able to continue to serve so many Littles and adults with disabilities in a variety of ways. After my tenure as Agency Board Chair was complete I joined the Endowment Board and now currently serve as its Chair, ensuring we have a stable future for JBBBS. I can’t image a more fulfilling series of volunteer experiences, seeing the Agency continuously evolve and knowing that we changed the futures and outcomes of those who we have been blessed to serve.

What has been your most rewarding/favorite moment as a JBBBS volunteer?

Countless!! Seeing a new Little and Big being matched. Watching that Match grow and flourish. Hearing the stories about the how the Littles had a great summer camp experience because of our Campership program. Understanding and learning about the needs of our Bigs as they head to college, and then finding ways through our Scholarship program to support their educational needs. Seeing some of our Littles come back as Bigs. But it’s also in the day-to-day actions of working with the Staff as they work to make it all happen.

Finally, it’s the moments with our donors. Their positive reaction to understanding the power and impact their donations have, both in the short and long term, on our community is very meaningful. My hope is that there will be many more favorite and rewarding moments for all of those who choose to engage in the mission of JBBBS.

What does mentorship mean to you?

To me, mentorship at JBBBS is knowing there is a place in our community that has, and will continue to, for the next 100 years, be a place where we can change the direction and future of a Little. We as an Agency are fortunate to serve so many Littles and adults with disabilities who, through no fault of their own, face countless challenges. We have become a positive and trusted role model in their lives for many, many years. We have the skills and resources to help them at many important phases in their lives. Something as simple as a get together for a conversation, or to see a movie or a game, to something as supportive as getting them to summer camp or helping with a college scholarship. Mentorship is all about transferring and reinforcing the values that go into building great adults, and great people.

Staff Spotlight, Outreach Manager, Tania Gray

In one sentence, what does your job entail?

As outreach manager, my job is to recruit volunteers, from within 90 cities and towns, to be matched one-to-one as a mentor for a child in need or as a friend to an adult with disabilities.

What path led you to your current position at JBBBS?

I have always been passionate about doing meaningful work that makes a difference in the lives of others. For these reasons, my career began in public service where I was an Assistant District Attorney prosecuting criminal cases and later an Assistant Attorney General protecting the civil rights of Massachusetts citizens. In this new life chapter, I wanted to work at a Jewish non-profit organization where I could direct my passion and energy towards something significant and impactful in the Jewish community as well as in the broader Boston community.

What motivates you most about your work at JBBBS?

First, I am motivated and proud to work for a mentoring agency that serves children, their families, and adults with disabilities of all faiths and backgrounds, including immigrants, refugees, and those in the LGBTQ community. Second, I am motivated by our amazing Jewish and non-Jewish volunteers who inspire me every day by volunteering their precious time to helping those in need. Finally, I am motivated by the knowledge that my recruitment of volunteers is the first important step in a process that will lead to mentoring relationships that change lives and futures.

Outside of the office what are your favorite hobbies or past times?

I love hiking, yoga, and spending time with my family! I am also passionate about Israel, having been born there, and I love visiting family and friends there every chance I get!

Friend 2 Friend Volunteer Spotlight, Michael Lourie

This month’s Volunteer Shout Out goes to Michael Lourie. Michael saved the day (or should we say “evening”) last month, when the trivia night host that was scheduled to run a Friend 2 Friend MAGIC group called the agency to alert them that he had strep throat. During Michael’s intake interview he had shared that he hosted trivia nights as a side business. You guessed it, after a quick call, he saved the day and stepped in seamlessly, refusing to be compensated for his efforts and hosting a fabulous night of trivia.

Michael has been matched with his friend James or “JB” and the two have been in a MAGIC group together for the past 9 months. Michael’s wife Jennifer is also a volunteer in the same MAGIC group. Michael and Jennifer learned about the MAGIC program from a friend who encouraged them to join the group. Michael shared that his great uncle had always been an advocate for people with disabilities, having lost a child at a very early age who had significant challenges. Michael still cherishes the old press clippings about his uncle’s work on behalf of those less fortunate than himself, which has left Michael feeling “sensitive to those who could use some friendship and a kind word now and then.”

When asked what his favorite thing to do with James is, Michael shared that “it may sound cliché, but I really just like ‘hanging out’ with James. He is such a sweet soul- and his knowledge of so many topics makes for some excellent conversation. I liked James from the very start.”

When he is not volunteering with JBBBS, Michael enjoys going to the gym, watching movies with his wife, Jennifer, watching classic black and white movies (by himself), hosting team trivia nights (his side business) listening to awesome 80’s tunes and spending time with his family. He is the Director of Business Development for the Bulfinch Group.

We are grateful to Michael for his ongoing commitment to James and for his willingness to jump into action at a moments notice. Thank you Michael for being such a great volunteer!


Our November 2018 Volunteer Shout Out

Friend 2 Friend Volunteer Paul Crocetti

Paul Crocetti has been a volunteer in the Friend 2 Friend MAGIC program for the past three years. He was recruited at a lunchtime information session at TechTarget in Newton where he is the senior site editor of SearchDisasterRecovery and SearchDataBackup in their storage media group. Paul has found his volunteer experience to be very meaningful, and kindly agreed to speak at a recent recruitment breakfast where he shared his experiences with his colleagues.

In Paul’s words, “The MAGIC program has been a special experience. In just three years, I feel that my match and I have become good friends. We look forward to the monthly events and always have nice conversations, as we share many common interests such as photography, the Red Sox, and movies. I anticipate being in the program for a long time!”

Our volunteers are our best ambassadors and we are so appreciative of Paul’s willingness to share his story with his colleagues. Thank you Paul for being a such a great volunteer!