Volunteer of the Year: Renee Unger

April 22, 2019

If you spend enough time in the Development Suite, you’re bound to hear Renee’s name. People here are constantly mentioning her presence and contributions, as well as, her fun personality. Renee is a volunteer extraordinaire: she has cleaned yards during Fall Fix Up, delivered Thanksgiving boxes, was a Friendly Visitor to homebound adults, and adopted a family at Hanukkah, to name a few of the volunteer projects she’s taken on.

Renee says Fall Fix Up is a personal favorite. She organizes family members together to rake leaves to get an older adult’s home ready for the winter. Renee’s most recent JFS endeavor is teaching older adults how to use an iPad. Our grant-funded iPad program matches a volunteer to a client who wants to learn about technology to increase their knowledge and decrease social isolation. Renee has been working with 2 clients who are now pretty comfortable with FaceTime and Skype. Renee says, “One of my older adults calls his kids regularly and FaceTimes with his friends in Russia. Now we’re working on translating those skills to his iPhone.”

Renee’s passion for giving back is one that has clearly been instilled in her 6 children. Her daughter is on the board of Hebrew Free Loan and Yad Ezra, and her son organizes two fundraising events to benefit pediatric cancer organizations. Renee shares that even her grandchildren have the spirit of philanthropy. Renee’s granddaughter raised $1600 for Angels of Hope by selling handmade bracelets to classmates at lunch.

Renee recently learned she will be awarded the JFS Volunteer of the Year. She laughs, “I was in total shock. I was actually at a work outing at Motor City Casino and Lindsay (Leder) and Emily (Croitori) called to tell me the news and I broke down crying. My boss came over and said, ‘Are you okay? Did you lose all your money?'”

Renee says, “The most surprising thing I’ve learned through all of my time here is just what this organization is capable of doing. I tell people all the time, ‘Call JFS.’ If they can’t help you, they will find the person who can.”

We are so thankful for Renee and the compassionate way she serves our clients and our community. She says, “I don’t do it for any recognition. It’s a lot fun for me.”