How Beth's Sunny Smile Brightens a Day at the Kosher Senior Cafe

By Sara Porcaro | Jan 31, 2023
Volunteering, Jewish Collaborative Services, IDD, Rhode Island, Disabilities, Kosher Senior Cafe, Cranston, Temple Sinai

The first bit of 2023's winter has been kinder to us than those in previous years, with no frost biting at our cheeks as much as we might be used to. With the beautiful weather we had last week, all sunshine and blue skies in mid-winter, it was the perfect day for the senior community to meet at Temple Sinai in Cranston for a weekly warm meal at the Kosher Senior Cafe. And as visitors came through the doors, they were greeted with the familiar and friendly face of volunteer Beth!
Under Jewish Collaborative Services (JCS), the café is a vibrant place for people of all faiths and walks of life to come share in freshly prepared meals, activities such as chair yoga or bingo, cultural and historical presentations, and much more, including a robust virtual program through Zoom for those who can't make it in person. It's a place that brings together volunteers from various different organizations to make the café a warm and welcoming place, and they also participate in programs like Meals on Wheels to keep their senior community connected and cared for. Through Perspectives Advisor Lexie Nasatka, a contact of the café, Beth found out about the opportunity to become a volunteer.
"We bring in lots of volunteers," says Coordinator of Kosher Nutrition, Neal Drobnis, Beth's supervisor, "including people from East Bay RI, the Providence Transition Academy, and others. It's good to have a wide-ranging community where everyone can get to know new people with different life experiences."
Since October of 2022, Beth has been coming to JCS' Kosher Senior Cafe to help out with the Friday lunch offerings for senior citizens in the community. She gets there early in the day to help set up the tables, then welcomes each guest with enthusiasm and holds the door as they come through to take their seats, and afterwards, she helps break the tables down and clean up the lunch service. On the menu that day was chicken soup, chicken piccata, roasted vegetables, chocolate chip cookies, and of course, challah bread for Shabbat--a meal served over the course of discussion, services, and activities for the day.
"I love it here," says Beth. "It makes me feel good to help out, and I get along great with everyone."
"[Beth has] become a part of our community, too, and having her here I think really strengthens it."
With each person that came in, Beth would perk up and greet them by name, and the guests were happy to greet her just the same way. In fact, on the rare times Beth can't stop by the café to do her weekly volunteering shift, the guests ask for her, wondering where she is. That's because Beth isn't only a volunteer there; after regularly coming by for so many weeks, she's become a regular part of the lunch crowd, making friends with the guests and the other professionals and volunteers of the café itself. Whether she's singing at Open Mic events or listening to the discussions and presentations that happen over a good meal, she--and all she works with and for--have a great time every Friday.
"Beth is a real asset and an amazing person," says Neal. "She's become a part of our community, too, and having her here I think really strengthens it."
And so long as the café is happy to have Beth, she's happy to be there. Her cheerful attitude and her love for helping others shines through, so much so that even new visitors to the café find themselves in a brighter mood after meeting her. Between the work, the people, and the knowledge that Beth's making a difference, JCS' Kosher Senior Café is absolutely the place to be, and we're proud of her for giving it her all every time! Way to go, Beth!


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