Volunteer Spotlight March 2022: Eva Neubeck
Eva Neubeck with her grandchildren
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I am a first generation American born to parents who fled Nazi Germany in 1939. Beautifully resilient people, their parenting style included nurturing meaningful friendships, creating supportive community and teaching sensitivity and civility. My mother was an artist and my father was a university professor and therapist. I became a social worker.
In my career, I was given the opportunity to be mentored by African-American and Native American social justice activists and also consummate mental health advocates. I worked for Minneapolis Public Schools for 44 years. With my partner, I raised two daughters; one who lives in Colorado and one who lives in Connecticut. I enjoy traveling, birding, listening to music, and reading. My mother lived to be 99, outliving my dad by 10 years. In her final years, I was lucky to be retired, live close by and was gratefully able to spend a lot of time with her.
What current volunteer role(s) do you have with JFCS and what volunteer role(s) have you had in the past?
I currently drive for Garber Transportation. I was also an Outreach Visitor to a wonderful man who wanted to go out to eat, go on drives, and go see movies, all of which were a relief from staying in his apartment. What an honor and pleasure it’s been to offer my service and companionship. I also helped with a couple of the JFCS community conferences.
How long have you been volunteering with JFCS and what motivated you to begin volunteering with us?
I’ve been volunteering for a few years now. I was able to support my mother’s needs when she couldn’t drive anymore, but still had a lot of living to do. She was healthy, had varied interests and still wanted to have a “rich” life. When she passed, I thought about others like her who didn’t have children or other relatives they could count on, so volunteering for JFCS was the right fit for me.
What’s your favorite part about volunteering with JFCS and how has being a JFCS volunteer impacted your life?
I enjoy hearing people’s stories and I enjoy the way they tell their histories. I can tell that being in their company makes them happy. Offering what I can to them brings me a new purpose on those days I volunteer.
Driving for someone who doesn’t drive anymore feels like a privilege for me. Partnering with someone to get to appointments or go grocery shopping is an important way to maintain some independence for them. While driving, I enjoy conversation – maybe learning a little about them and sharing a little about myself.
Do you have a memorable story about your JFCS volunteer experience to share?
One of the people I drive told me about how she gets books mailed to her from Hennepin County Libraries, free of charge, and that it is so important for her as an avid reader. She told me she had a book on loan that was highly requested so she thought she better read it quickly. She started in the morning, read through lunch, the afternoon and dinner and finally finished at 11 p.m. She put it in the mail the next morning. Not too bad for someone in their 90s!!
What would you say to someone who’s thinking of volunteering with JFCS?
Please recognize that isolation and loss of independence often lead to depression and that a few hours of volunteering can be a lifeline enabling people to live on with dignity and hopefully some joy.
Anything else to share?
Volunteering can be tailored to your availability and a little goes a long way. Give it a try!