Helaine Greene was raised to embody the spirit of doing good. Her parents were both givers, and Helaine used to deliver food to neighbors as a child. She grew up to become a nurse, and to volunteer tirelessly in our community. So naturally, when the pandemic hit, she was ready to jump on an opportunity to help. She was introduced to Jewish Silicon Valley’s JBuddies program, which was launched to check in on older adults who might be in need of support. JBuddy volunteers were given lists of contacts to call, to check on individuals’ well-being and needs for groceries or supplies.
At first, Helaine was given a list of eight people to call, all of whom were doing well and did not request ongoing check-ins. Determined to help, Helaine wanted to keep making calls. She asked JBuddies Program Director Cherie Ravel if there was anyone else she could be put in contact with and indeed, Cherie had one person in particular in mind: Gordon S. “He’s a really nice man and he could use a call,” said Cherie. Helaine agreed.
“Right from the first call, we just hit it off and I just knew this was going to be somebody that would be a special person to have in my life,” said Helaine. Gordon lives alone in Santa Clara. His wife had passed away just over a year ago so he was delighted to receive a check-in call. Helaine began with questions about Gordon’s wife, allowing him a welcome chance to reminisce, and the conversation quickly took off. They discovered a shared interest in discussing politics, and soon became great friends.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Helaine and Gordon have been in contact at least once a month, sharing political tweets and chatting about family. “He’s just a pleasure to talk to. We’ve established a friendship,” said Helaine. She even baked and delivered fresh challahs to Gordon’s home during quarantine.
Now, seeing the end of the pandemic near, Helaine and her husband Stephen look forward to inviting Gordon over for dinner so they can get to know each other better. What started off as a good deed, took the shape of a lasting friendship. The JBuddies program has enriched the lives of the volunteers as well as those receiving the calls. “I think what we find, as volunteers, is when we give a little of ourselves, we get so much back in return,” Helaine says.
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