On any given day, people from about 50 households visit the JFS Weinberg Food Pantry (on the three days per week the pantry is open). However, last Tuesday and Wednesday when we distributed our annual Thanksgiving meal packages, we served nearly triple that number!
Approximately 200 people attended Celebrate JFS, Jewish Family Service's annual meeting and celebration of volunteers, board, supporters, and staff held June 27. Guests of all ages gathered at Palazzo Verdi near Fiddler’s Green, and sampled sumptuous hors d’oeuvres and drinks while mingling and enjoying the art in the adjacent Madden Museum.
As the Jewish Family Service associate director of marketing and communications, I had seen Lunchbox Express in action many times over the past few years since we took over the summer lunch program. I had taken photos of volunteers handing out food to kids at various locations and worked with media to get stories of the program.
Dr. Allan Cohen, a retired psychologist and longtime JFS volunteer, received the 2016 Max Frankel Volunteer of the Year award at Celebrate JFS in June. He has volunteered with the Mental Health Services department for 12 years, providing pro bono counseling services to a variety of JFS clients. He also facilitated several staff in-service trainings for KidSuccess therapists about special education and school laws relating to it, behavior management, and more.
Recently through the JFS Colorado Senior Connections (CSC) program, Allan began hosting weekly office hours for residents of Edgewater Plaza who are 60 years or older. During the 30- to 40-minute appointments, he provides “light counseling” sessions to residents who need to talk through an issue they are having, process any frustrations or feelings, and help them move on with their day and week.
In June, he started a weekly discussion group with these residents to talk about a wide range of topics. These discussions often lead residents to
consider seeing Dr. Cohen individually to discuss an issue they never thought they would need to talk about. Felica Goett, CSC activities and volunteer
coordinator, says, “Residents have really taken to Dr. Cohen and enjoy his laid-back nature. I have noticed that he really likes the opportunity
to help people who have had a difficult past or who foresee a difficult future because of financial, health, or other issues.”
A Denver native, Allan received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado, a master’s in clinical social work from UCLA, and a doctor of psychology (PsyD) from the University of Denver. He worked for Adams 12 Five Star Schools (Adams County School District) for 26 years, first as director of mental health services and then as director of special education before retiring in 2000. He started a small private therapy practice, which he continued after retirement for a few more years.
When his wife passed away in 2002, Allan looked for volunteer opportunities where he could use his expertise. Since he had spent much of his career
working with children, he wanted to explore helping seniors. Allan explains, “I felt like seniors are mostly an ignored population and I wanted
to give them a voice by truly listening to them and letting them share their concerns, thoughts, and ideas.”
He first volunteered at the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless through Mental Health Colorado’s Pro Bono Counseling Program. Then, after some time, a friend mentioned that JFS offered counseling services. He met with Stacey Weisberg, director of Mental Health Services, and began seeing clients and consulting with the KidSuccess school-based counseling team. Stacey says, “I am so grateful for Allan’s continued dedication to our clients and staff. We value his expertise and are fortunate that he chooses to volunteer so much time with JFS!”
In addition to his volunteer efforts at JFS, he currently leads a weekly group at Morning Star Adult Day Program in Lowry for seniors with disabilities.
In 2009, he was honored as volunteer of the year by the Colorado Mental Health Association.
Allan has truly enjoyed his volunteer work with JFS over the years. He says, “JFS is a fabulous organization that reaches so many people and helps so many different populations. The staff does a great job. I hold the counseling staff in high regard and enjoy consulting with them.”
When asked about the Max Frankel Volunteer of the Year award, Allan commented, “I was very surprised when I first heard about the award, but it’s a
great honor! Honestly, the reward I get is doing the work. Every volunteer probably says this, but I get way more out of it than what the clients
receive. I look forward to working with the clients every week!”
Thank you to Allan for his years of service to JFS! We truly appreciate all he continues to do for our clients.
As National Volunteer Week approaches, April 10 to 16, we would like to thank and pay tribute to our more than 1,100 annual volunteers. As you can see from the infographic below, volunteers are at the heart of everything we do! We are so grateful to all the dedicated, passionate, and compassionate people who help in a variety of meaningful ways throughout the agency.