In Praise of (Judaica Shop) Volunteers—and Customers!

Categories: Community Voices, Judaica Shop
 

I have volunteered at Bingo, doing almost every position and shift—bless those callers!  I took on High Holiday requests for tickets and then sort of inherited the Book of Remembrance.  I have been a board member, recording secretary, and then financial secretary, preferring to be a worker bee rather than chief honcho.

So, without any experience or much forethought, I took on the Gift Shop. Oy!  Am I crazy?!     I just wanted the shop to be a place where I wanted to buy gifts, admire Judaica, etc. And I couldn’t watch it go by the boards, so I plunged in.  Right into the deep end.

There was cheering and encouragement from the bleachers, and a number of absolutely wonderful, generous volunteers who dived in as well.  We held a clearance and then closed the shop to repaint and restock.

Frankly, I did things that pleased me.  I found myself saying, “This makes me happy” when the painting was finished, when I began ordering items to fill the shop, when I checked in, inventoried, and priced merchandise—you get the picture.  The purchasing was a bit terrifying, since it wasn’t MY money I was spending, and I prayed I had found some good starting merchandise.  At the same time, it was exciting to see the products, all the while praying they would sell.  Thank heavens for the supporters of that part of the adventure, since I couldn’t go it alone.

As one of my best bosses said he did, I surrounded myself with people who had talents in different areas and let them do what they do best.  Consequently, I have the very best people. Some volunteers just wade in and clean and dust and polish; others have a good eye for design and display and take that on; still other women have an eye for detail.  And the organizers! They whipped the back room into shape and then worked out front as well.  There are women who help with ordering and figure out how to put things together. Jills of all trades. In other words, I am one really lucky girl!

And they all come in to keep the shop open, even when there is no traffic.  Everyone finds things to do as they eagerly wait to engage a customer who stops by.  They hang in with me, trying to make the shop a going concern on Mondays and Thursdays, as well as during religious school hours.

What’s missing? Traffic! Customers to come in to browse.  I need to keep our volunteers happy, and what makes them happy?  Seeing their labors bear fruit.  Guiding people through the shop in quest of the perfect purchase.  They all know the Judaica Shop is more than just a cute boutique—it is a means to provide opportunities for Beth El kids to go to camp, for college kids to get a care package from shul, for a new __________(fill in your own) that the shul kitchen needs.

So the volunteers keep their fingers crossed and smiles on their faces as they wait to do what they do best—enjoy helping customers find everything they need or find another way to meet those needs.  They are the best!  Patrons’ presence will complete the package and tie it up with a bow.  And we can do the same for your gifts! Come on in!

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