National Volunteer Week is celebrated across the nation April 6 through 12 this year, but Tel Hai’s 375 active volunteers are appreciated daily on campus. Their service may take the form of a Friendly Visitor, mail room volunteer or Meals On Wheels delivery person; each role is of great importance aiding and enriching community life. Their presence may facilitate an event or activity, provide educational programs for all to enjoy, escort others to chapel services or physical therapy on campus. There is something for everyone to do. Being active as a volunteer has many benefits including providing regular social interaction which helps fight the threat of isolation, combats depression and helps keep one physically fit.
Some harder to quantify benefits include the building of relationships between people. Tel Hai’s Slice of Historyprogram pairs residents with scribes who create a record of the resident’s “story.” One such pairing between Ruthie Sauder, a cottage resident, and Margaret Schoenbaum, a 100 year-old health care resident, resulted in the creation of a record of a remarkable life story and a chance for different generations to work together while providing a vivid history lesson in the first-person. Mrs. Schoenbaum’s family initially provided an outline of Margaret’s remarkable life journey—from Poland to eastern Germany and on to Singapore during the Holocaust. Joining her future husband in Java in the Dutch East Indies, she endured his imprisonment by Dutch authorities after the German invasion of Holland. Securing passage on a tramp steamer, they arrived after a three-month sea voyage in 1947 and settled in New York City. Retirement in San Diego proved to be even more enjoyable. Ruthie and Margaret laughed recalling family joys, grandchildren, knitting, making baby clothes and stuffed animals and Margaret’s love of soup (“As long as you have soup, you will never go hungry.”) Although they walked very different paths in life, both women now call Tel Hai “home” and were blessed with the opportunity to honor a remarkable life, connect and celebrate the experience of sharing.
National Volunteer Week hopes to inspire, recognize, and encourage people to volunteer in their communities—to be engaged and perhaps to discover new friends along the way.
PHOTO (from left): Ruthie Sauder and Margaret Schoenbaum met in March after the celebration of the latter’s 100th birthday in mid-February. Margaret’s fascinating life story was the subject of an inspiring personal profile created by Ruthie in honor of this milestone birthday. Both women are residents of the Tel Hai community in Honey Brook.